By Appolos Christian
With the commencement of the long awaited Federal government’s Special Public Works (SPW) programme that engages 774,000 unemployed Nigerian youths, it is believable to say that President Buhari’s proposed lifting of 100 million Nigerians from extreme poverty has started on a good note in 2021.
Designed to engage mostly the youths, the SPW programme according to the acting Director General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, is “the actualisation of the single most far-reaching grassroots based employment creation initiative in the history of Nigeria.
Interestingly, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo SAN, at the inauguration of the SPW programme on January 5, 2021, stated that the programme aims “at shielding the most vulnerable from the ravaging effects of COVID-19 pandemic which include, but are not limited to, pervasive hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and joblessness.”
Apparently, more sustainable far-reaching grassroots based employment creation programmes that are given require attention and resources, and also structured in short, medium and long term basis is highly needed. This is the way to go if pervasive hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and joblessness which are the fueling factors of insecurity in Nigeria must be tamed and conquered.
The Pople’s Republic of China was once in a worst situation than Nigeria is today. However, targeted and structured short, medium and long term plans saw them through and enthroned the country to the position of the world second supper-power economy. The present government in Nigeria with its plan of ejecting 100 million of its citizens out of abject poverty through job creation can largely invest in NDE as a starting point. Who knows where Nigeria’s breakthrough can actually come from.
Therefore, as the government parastatal saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the SPW and by extension, the President’s efforts towards lifting millions of Nigerians out of extreme poverty succeeds, the NDE must be strengthened to not only initiate grassroots based employment programmes, but to see that progressive and sustainable successes are achieved.
It is on record that NDE has in the recent past initiated, piloted and carried out numerous job creation initiatives such as vocational, agricultural and entrepreneurial skills acquisition as well as activities in the public works sector in different parts of the country, the agency’s inability to monitor and ensure end-to-end success of the executed programmes, means that the agency needs a first hand empowerment and a matching order from the president to ensure that success is not only heard but is seen.