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774,000 Public Jobs Workers Protest Unpaid N20,000 Wage, Beneficiaries Tackle Keyamo

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Participants in the Federal Government’s Special Public Works (SPW) programme are protesting the delay in paying their stipend more than three months after kick-off.

The SPW is an Adhoc programme designed by the government to provide stop-gap three months jobs to mainly artisans to earn N20,000 monthly doing public works.

One thousand youths were hired from each of the 774 local government in the country as beneficiaries, bringing the figure to 774,000 councils.

The programme was inaugurated on January 5. The first batch of beneficiaries have completed their assignment without being paid.

President Muhammadu Buhari on March 20 directed the release of funds to pay the stipends.

Minister of Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo (SAN) hours after, directed the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Federal Government agency driving the programme, to start processing the payment plan.

Keyamo, in his official Tweeter handle, (@fkeyamo, assured the participants that they would soon receive alerts of payment.

Twenty-two days after, no payment has been made.

Some of the participants at the weekend took to Keyamo’s Twitter handle to ventilate their frustration.

One of them described the Federal Government as “heartless” for failing to pay them their stipend.

One Dubagari Jnr, tweeted: “What is happening with the SPW? Up till now, we have not been paid and have successfully finished our work. Please Hon. minister we need explanations on why we have not been paid and you have to start the disbursement before fasting (Ramadan).

Another worker, Maikudi Kolo, asked through a tweet: “Una no go pay 774, 000 workers?”

Abdoul Baqee tweeted: “People are hungry regarding the payment of stipends. Please fast track the payment of these people. 774, 000 people waiting anxiously for their payment with hunger and they don’t even have a phone to come to your timeline. When you get hungry just remember those people that work with hunger without their entitlement.”

Yusuf Mohammed Olawuyi asked: “Mr. Honourable minister, what happened to our SPW stipends? You already published that we will start receiving the alert from the beginning of April.”

When contacted, Keyamo directed our correspondent to NDE acting Director-General Abubakar Fikpo.

Fikpo said: “We are still in the process; we have identified some loopholes here and there. We want to verify the BVN of the participants. That is why we are working with the banks.

“We are verifying the BVN of those participants in order to avoid double payments to several people or to three or more accounts.”

About SPW Programme

The Special Public Works Programme is a dry season/off-season transient job for rehabilitation/maintenance of social infrastructure.

The Programme is designed to employ 1,000 persons each from the 774 Local Government Areas.

It is being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

N52billion was voted for the programme, part of it to pay participants at N20,000 monthly for three months.

The programme was expected to commence on October 1, 2020, but suffered a setback because of internal wranglings between Keyamo and a former Director-General of the NDE, Nasir Ladan. President Muhammadu Buhari fired Ladan.

There was also a big row between the National Assembly and Keyamo over the allocation of slots to hire beneficiaries.

N26 billion was released for the procurement of equipment and for logistics before the programme eventually commenced on January 5.

Keyamo, during the inauguration of the programme, said it will address poverty and hunger.

The minister said the programme was conceived following the success of the pilot scheme in eight states to gauge its impact in addressing the ballooning population of the unemployed and rising insecurity.

Keyamo noted that countries like India and Malaysia used similar programmes to fight poverty.

BIG STORY

I’ve Not Declared Interest In 2023 Presidential Race —– Osinbajo

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The Office of the Vice President says permutations around the 2023 presidential race are a distraction as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has not declared interest to contest.

Laolu Akande, the spokesperson to Mr Osinbajo, said in a statement on Monday in Abuja that the Office of the Vice President had no connection with an online attempt to rally support for him (Osinbajo).

“The attention of the Office of the Vice President has been drawn to a website: supportosinbajo.ng that is calling on Nigerians to join a volunteer group mobilizing support for Osinbajo ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

“Details of this website and the solicitation of the group are currently trending on WhatsApp with a suggestion that Osinbajo has “quietly” declared interest in the 2023 election.

“The Office of the Vice President is not in any way connected to this website or the group behind it and considers such an enterprise an unnecessary distraction.

“Osinbajo has not declared any interest whatsoever in the 2023 election; but he is rather focused on working in his capacity as vice president in the current administration to address all the compelling issues in the country and concerns of Nigerians, including finding effective and lasting solutions to the security challenges.

“Therefore, we ask that people desist from such unhelpful permutations while we all deal together with the challenges confronting us as Nigerians, and resolve them for the benefit of our people, peace, and prosperity in the land.’’

Mr Osinbajo was the running mate of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections.

He had served as attorney general and commissioner for justice in the administration of former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, who is reputed to be his political ally.

There are indications that Mr. Tinubu is warming up to run for president in 2023, though he is yet to confirm it.

 

(NAN)

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: EFCC Takes Over Nestoil Boss, Ernest Azudialu’s Ikoyi Residence

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Nestoil and NECONDE Boss, Ernest Azudialu, is caught up in the turbulence of steep and unforgiving commerce and the sad fact is that he lacks the instinct and judgment required to wade through the scary storm.

Yes, the truth dawned on the Anambra State-born flamboyant dude in a moment of profound terror.

According to The Capital, Azudialu’s massive mansion located in the pristine and prosperous Modupe Alakija Crescent formerly known as Ikoyi Crescent has been sealed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

A reporter who was at the house affirmed that the anti-graft agency’s red ink embarrassingly announcing that the property was under investigation is boldly written on the building.

Whether Azudialu and his family can access the home is, however, not certain as at press time. What is sacrosanct, though, is that the property he calls home is now a subject of investigation by the EFCC.

This is coming at a time when the residents of the very serene and exclusive neighbourhood and Lagosians conversant with happenings in high society felt that what happened to Festus Fadeyi, the chairman of Pan Ocean Corporation, an indigenous independent oil and gas company, would not have an encore there. Fadeyi’s mouth-watering mansion, which had served as his family home for several decades in the same street, was confiscated by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, last year. The federal government agency took over Fadeyi’s Pan Ocean Corporation’s assets and its subsidiaries over bank loans totaling about N240billion.

Now, it is the turn of Nestoil’s Azudialu. This has left high-profile residents of Ikoyi shell-shocked because he was perceived to be a decent businessman despite his la Vida loca lifestyle. Although the reasons behind the EFCC’s action are sketchy, there are speculations that he is under investigation for financial crimes.

A while ago, he ran into stormy waters with a foremost commercial bank, which solely financed his Nestoil Towers straddling Akin Adesola and Saka Tinubu Streets in Victoria Island.

The allegation then was that he defaulted in servicing the facility that he obtained to build the towers.

In the past dispensation of former President Goodluck Jonathan, he benefited from juicy contracts and basked in luxury accruable from his position as Nestoil boss and a player in Nigeria’s oil industry. As cool cash flowed into his accounts, Ernest developed a taste for expensive luxury and soon he was known for his obsession with aircraft and his penchant for acquiring private jets and pricey automobiles.

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BIG STORY

Okorocha To FG: Give Me N76billion And I’ll Create One Million Jobs From Cattle Business

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Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state, says he can create one million jobs from cattle rearing if provided with the financial capital.

In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed a spate of farmers-herders crisis in many parts of the country, which has led to the loss of lives and property.

As a result of the crisis, 17 southern governors, last Tuesday, resolved to ban open grazing in their region, after a meeting in Asaba, Delta state.

Speaking on the development in an interview on Sunday Politics, the senator representing Imo west said the country should look into the business of cattle rearing, noting that billions by not handling it well.

“Let me talk to Nigerians for the first time as a businessman. Do you know how many billions of dollars this nation is losing by not handling this business of cattle well in the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.

“This business of cattle can create one million jobs for Nigerians, if well-managed. I wish Nigerians can call me or the government will call me and say Okorocha this seventy-six billion.

“We want to give you, it is your share, take it and fix the cattle business. If I do not create one million jobs within the shortest time, just know I’m not Rochas.

“This is business. See money and people are just joking with it. We used to be exporters of leathers, skins. What about dairy products and milk?

“Assuming we have this business, do you know how many welders and fabricators will build body carriers for the cows, while we import the head from China and fix it.”

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