TUC President’s Falsehood On Special Public Works Programme
In what seems an attempt by Trade Union Congress, TUC’s President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, to confuse the Nigerian public on the patriotic efforts of the Buhari’s administration in its empowerment drive through the Federal Government’s Special Public Works programme, the office of the Minister of State, Labour and Employment has offered insights to put the record straight.
In a press release, signed by the Minister’s media and Communications aide, Tunde Moshood, the Ministry stated that the programme, contrary to Olaleye’s statement, has benefitted lots of Nigerians.
The Ministry added that it remains committed to President Buhari’s vision to ensure that Nigerian youths, who are the leaders of tomorrow, are adequately prepared with the required skills and supports.
According to the statement, made available to OpenLife, the Ministry emphasized that there is proof that participants are receiving their stipends as promised by the government.
The statement reads in full:
Our attention has been drawn to the statement of the TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye over the Federal Government’s Special Public Works programme. The Special Public Works programme is designed to cushion the effect of the COVID 19 pandemic on the workforce.
The Trade Union President, Quadri Olaleye is said to have addressed a news conference where he was quoted to have labeled the federal government’s programme as a “scam to manipulate Nigerians”.
In his statement, Comrade Olaleye had averred that, no one has been recruited and no one has been paid in the ongoing federal government’s Special Public Works programme.
For the information of the Trade Union leader, as of the moment, over 620,000 of the 774,000 participants including those from the TUC President’s Local Government have received their N60,000 stipends. If Olaleye requests proof, we will oblige him. The payments are ongoing as we continue to verify the rest for payments.
Facts don’t lie. The Trade Union President, Quadri Olaleye and the general public would be opportune to see and measure the extent of work done by participants of the Special Public Works programme across the nation in a 15-minute documentary series that’s already showing on all NTA stations every Wednesday at 8.30pm.
The programme can also be viewed on DSTV Channel 251 and GoTV Channel 91 on Wednesdays.
For the avoidance of doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari, in April 2020, through the Minister of Finance, announced the Special Public works programme as an intervention programme to cushion the effect of the COVID 19 pandemic.
He further directed the National Directorate of Employment-NDE, under the supervision of the Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo SAN, to implement the programme.
For the record and to educate the TUC President who, being a Labour Union leader, should know, that the Special Public Works in the Rural Areas is an employment-intensive technique acquired and adapted by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) from one of the capacity-building collaborations with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the late 1980’s to mid 1990’s.
The Project was tagged ILO/NDE Labour Based/ Light Equipment Methods of Construction, Rehabilitation and maintenance of Public Infrastructure.
The ILO itself derived this idea of Special Public Works programme from several historical templates.
According to the Development and Technical Labour Department of the ILO, these types of programmes were used during the Great Depression by industrialised nations to immediately respond to grinding poverty at the lowest level of society that normally bore the brunt of such economic upheavals.
It was also effectively used during colonial Africa to quickly respond to situations such as drought and famine by mobilising the unskilled populace to engage in other labour intensive infrastructural projects as a means of immediately alleviating their situation.
The concept was later adopted and developed by most Asian countries like India, China and Bangladesh to lift their countries out of the league of poor nations.
This programme was one of the main reasons India quickly dropped in the poverty index and Nigeria overtook India at a point. Let us also educate the TUC President on the implementation technique adopted by the NDE on the programme in order to make it all inclusive, choose the right participants and forestall fraud in the process.
A committee was set up in every state comprising representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria-CAN, it’s the counterpart, Islamic Association, the Traditional institutions, Market women, youth groups, Civil Society and the NURTW.
The committee chose all the 774,000 participants of the programme. The participants were registered by the banks and put to work all over the nation, while strictly observing the Covid-19 protocol. Payments were made using the BVN as the identifier.
Meanwhile, we understand that the Labour Unions are always suspicious of government and its programmes.
However, had the TUC President endeavoured to put a call through to one of it’s affiliates, the NURTW to get an understanding of the process adopted, he would have indeed seen that not only has he spoken against the welfare of the people he is supposed to be leading, but that, it is perhaps one of the most transparent social intervention programmes of this magnitude in a short period in the country.