From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has told the Federal Government to suspend the take-off of the 774,000 special works programme now scheduled to commence in January 2021.
It also asked the Ministry of Finance not to release funds meant for the programme until issues that affect integrity of the programme are sorted out.
Adopting a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Olajide Olatunbosun, yesterday, the House condemned the sack of the Director General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Mohammed Ladan Argungu and advised he be reinstated immediately.
Contributing to the debate, Onofiok Luke, said the decision to sack the NDE boss was ill-advised, adding that he stood for the right thing to be done and ensure the programme succeeds.
He said there was need to suspend the programme because there were silent issues which border on integrity of the legislature and the need to build institutions.
He added that since the programme was initially supposed to take place in 2020, the money meant for it was provided for in the 2020 budget, recommending that since it had been shifted to 2021, there was need to suspend its implementation until there was provision made for it in the 2021 budget.
Also, the House decried incessant attacks on schools, with a charge to the government to immediately rescue 333 students of the Government Science School, Kankara in Kastina, who were abducted last week and other students held hostage by insurgents.
It expressed dismay that about 112 Chibok school girls are still missing, while one of the Dapchi school girls, Leah Sharibu is still in captivity.
Consequently, the parliament charged the government to urgently implement the Safe Schools Declaration to ensure the protection of children and teachers in schools, as well as forward the Declaration to the National Assembly for domestication.
The Green Chamber equally called on the government to review the security architecture in the country to make it more effective.
These followed the adoption of a motion, sponsored by Musa Sarki Adar and 75 others, calling on the federal government to “urgently bring to total control the attacks on educational institutions, insurgency, banditry and kidnapping across the country”.
Adar, in his lead debate, expressed concern over the spate of insecurity across the country. He called on the government to rise to the challenge, as security of lives and priority is the key responsibility of government.
The lawmaker recalled that “in April, 2014, a Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State was attacked and 276 female students were kidnapped;
“In February, 2014, yet another attack was recorded whereby dozens of students were murdered at the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe State and classrooms set on fIre;
“In February, 2018, at about 5:50am, 110 school girls aged between 11-19 years were kidnapped from the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State.
“Other schools that have suffered similar attacks include Babington Junior Secondary School, Ikorodu, Lagos State, Turkish International Secondary School, isheri in Ogun State, Lagos State Senior Model College, Igbonia in Lagos State and Government Girls Secondary School, Moriki in Zamfara State.”
He added that in the most recent attack, hundreds of students in a Government Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State were reportedly kidnapped by bandits, last Friday.
Adar expressed worries that more educational facilities are still being threatened by bandits and Boko Haram, leading to the closure of most schools and depriving hundreds of thousands of children of education.
The lawmaker said attacks on schools is a violation of humanity and basic decency, stating that “the Federal Government must put a stop to the senseless attacks on the hopes and dreams of a generation of children.”
Besides, Adar said Zabarmari, Beni Sheik, Potiskum Market and a host of other places in the North East have at various times been attacked, resulting in the cold blooded murder and abduction of innocent Nigerians.
According to him, there are “numerous reports of kidnappings and bandit attacks in Kaduna State, Niger State, Zamfara State, Sokoto State, Katsina State and a host of other places too numerous to mention.”