From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
No fewer than 20,000 youths in Ogun State have benefitted from the Federal Government’s extended Special Public Works (SPW) programme, aimed at addressing the high rate of unemployment and rising insecurity in some part of the country.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, made this known, on Monday, during the flag-off exercise of the programme at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta.
According to Adegbite, the programme was designed to employ 1,000 persons in each Local Government Area across the federation.
He added that the initiative was an outcome of the pilot SPW programme in the rural areas, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in early 2020, saying the pilot scheme was initially implemented in eight states of the federation to evaluate its impact on addressing high rate of unemployment.
‘Under the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), Ministry of Labour and Employment adopted a proactive approach, by engaging the nation’s youths in some important sectors of the economy. This strategy is intended to facilitate the creation of productive and inclusive societies in our nation. It is also aimed at shielding the most vulnerable from the ravaging effects of COVID-19 pandemic which includes, pervasive hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and joblessness,’ the minister said.
The minister noted that the programme would provide the necessary economic palliatives to the 774,000 unemployed youths in the country.
In his remark, Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun appreciated the Federal Government for initiating the Extended Special Public Works programme, saying it would go a long way in alleviating poverty and provide meaningful livelihood for beneficiaries.
Represented by his deputy, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Governor Abiodun noted that his administration had put in place various provisions for job creation in its public works sector, by partnering with individuals and organisations such as the Industrial Training fund (ITF) to train youths in the state to be gainfully employed.
He added that the Ogun State Government would continue to augment all efforts of government at the central, at ensuring improved standard of living for the citizenry as envisioned in its administration.
The Acting Director-General, National Director of Employment (NDE), Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, represented by the South West Zonal Director, Mr Duke Edem, said the programme was a very significant step in Nigeria’s quest to win the war against mass unemployment, as well as to ameliorate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, ‘communities across the country would receive facelift, through the activities of participants, as they would engage in specific community/environment public works activities, ranging from drainage clearing and maintenance, vegetation control, feeder roads maintenance, irrigation, great green wall and orchard maintenance among others.’
In his goodwill message, the Akarigbo and Paramount Ruler of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, said the exercise would affect the lives of the participants positively, urging them to be good ambassadors of the state.
The chairman of SPW in Ogun, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, represented by his deputy, Babatunde Ipaye, implored the selected participants to be cmmitted, efficient and dutiful throughout the duration of the exercise.