The Federal Government has so far paid N24.8 billion as stipends to 413,630 beneficiaries of its Special Public Works Programme, SPWP.
Minister of State for Labour Festus Keyamo made this known on Thursday in Abuja during the weekly briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team.
The Special Public Works Programme, domiciled in the National Directorate of Employment, a parastatal of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, was introduced in Oct. 2019, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval.
The scheme seeks to address the problem of unemployment as well as to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians, particularly rural dwellers across the country.
Mr Keyamo said: “As at this morning people have started receiving their payment of N40,000 each; that is for those who have received N20,000 before but for those who had not received before and have finished their work, we are paying them N60,000 each.
“So, you will hear jubilation across the country because of that and this N60,000 will save so many lives across the country.
“This is surely going to reflate the economy because we have designed it in a way that all the Local Government Areas will benefit.
“It is going to boost the economy from the very bottom because the beneficiaries are going to add this money to their businesses.
“So, as at this morning, we have so far paid 413,630 persons out of the 774,000 so we have achieved about 60 per cent.
“All of these people received N60,000 each and the total we have paid is N24,817,800, actual money given to Nigerians for them to cushion the effects of COVID-19 from the grassroots.”
The Minister, however, said the entire targeted 774,000 beneficiaries may not be achieved because of the peculiarities of the screening process.
“In a large programme like this, we may not achieve the 774,000 to the last number but for me, if we are able to achieve and pay up to 600,000 persons, we would have achieved a lot.
“The remaining balance we would return to government’s coffers if we cannot have real people who will come and be entitled to that.
“I mean real people with real identity and correct Bank Verification Number (BVN) so that we will not resort to paying ghosts, we will return the balance,” he said.
Keyamo also expressed optimism that the programme would not go down the drain at the expiration of the tenure of the Buhari administration in 2023.
According to him, the scheme is one of the various programmes that government will be implementing every year and people will be enrolled into it.
“It is a very good programme and we will keep improving because it is a huge programme that will take a lot of logistics especially when you want to execute it to perfection.
“I may not be here tomorrow as a Minister but we have set a template that subsequent managers of the programme will follow in future to ensure that it is watertight in terms of the selection.
“As part of the larger package of government’s poverty reduction programme that FEC approved, the president is very serious about lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years and we are looking at different strategies to adopt in achieving that.
“I assure you that it will not go down the drain because there is a FEC approval already for the Special Public Works Programme to be an annual event,” he added.