Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Tuesday, kicked off the Extended Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government, saying it is a step in the right direction to address the unemployment challenge and to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The governor maintained that the programme, which is targeted at empowering 1,000 beneficiaries in each of the 774 local governments of the country, for about three months, will complement the efforts of the Oyo State government to tackle unemployment in the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Governor Makinde, who was represented by the deputy governor, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan, kicked off the programme at the premises of Akinyele Local Government Secretariat, Moniya, Ibadan.
He said: “This programme is a step in the right direction. In Oyo State, when we see a good initiative, we are always sure to commend it. This programme is targeted to reach 1,000 beneficiaries in each of our 33 local governments.
“Though it will be for three months, it is an initiative that will complement the efforts of our government to tackle unemployment across the nooks and crannies of Oyo State.
“In Oyo State, we are already putting up efforts to address the unemployment challenge. Soon, the state will issue employment letters to 5,000 teachers and 2,000 non-teaching staff. These people will be in permanent employment for 35 years.
“We are also going to issue letters of employment to medical and paramedical staffers, while state counsels have already been given their employment letters. All these efforts will deplete unemployment in the state. So, you will agree with me that the extended special public works programme is complementing our efforts.”
The governor, who lauded the initiative, admonished its beneficiaries to demonstrate good conduct, stating that it is a great opportunity for them and that the conduct of the pioneer beneficiaries will determine whether or not it would last or be short-lived.
“To the participants of this programme, this is a great opportunity for you. To whom much is given, much is expected; you can use the opportunity of this programme to do well for yourselves and even convince the government to make it continue or to terminate it. If you do well, the Federal Government can even increase the beneficiaries to 2,000 per local government,” he added.
He equally charged the members of the committee of the programme to always carry the state government along in the selection process so as to make it more transparent and generally acceptable to all and sundry in the state.
Earlier, the Acting Director-General, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Mallam Abubakar Nuhu, who was represented by the state coordinator, Mrs. Olayemi Olayinka, said that the programme is a significant step in Nigeria’s quest to win the war against mass unemployment and to ameliorate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
He described the programme as “the single most far-reaching grassroots-based employment creation initiative in the history of our great nation.”
In his remark, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, who was represented by Captain Ajao Olufemi, said the programme was organised to address the ballooning population of the unemployed and rising insecurity in some parts of the country and to cushion the adverse socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the Federal Government will closely monitor the implementation of the programme to ascertain the efficient utilisation of the resources, human/material committed to the programme.
Similarly, the chairman, Oyo State Selection Committee, Mr. Ope Salami, advised the beneficiaries to see the programme as a golden opportunity that can be used to take them out of poverty in the nearest future.
Salami equally commended the Makinde government for demonstrating a non-partisan disposition during the processes leading up to the kick-off, even as he commended the Akinyele Local Government chairman, Mr. Taoreed Adedigba, for his cooperation with the committee.
The event had in attendance the representatives of the Alaafin of Oyo, Olubadan of Ibadan, Soun of Ogbomoso, the Senator representing Oyo Central, Teslim Folarin and a host of others.