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774,000 Jobs: FG Gives Updates on Payment of N7.3 Billion Stipends Arrears of Workers


774,000 Jobs: FG Gives Updates on Payment of N7.3 Billion Stipends Arrears of Workers

The federal government has revealed that, some beneficiaries of the 774,000 Special Public Works Programme (SPWP) are being owed N7.3 billion.

Minister of State for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo promised however, that the full payment will be made before end of the year.

Keyamo spoke on the situation during his ministry’s budget defence before the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment.

He appeared along with the National Directorate of Employment, (NDE) Director-General Mr. Abubakar Fikpo.

Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, blamed the delayed payment on what he called “bank issues.”

Some senators complained that beneficiaries of the programme in their constituencies had not been paid.

Committee Vice Chairman Senator Kabiru Barkiya had challenged Keyamo, saying: “In my state, Katsina, some of the beneficiaries were asked to open an account with a bank that has no branch in the state.”

Keyamo said: “We have a balance of about N8 billion to disburse. No, it is actually N7.3 billion.”

The minister said: “Why we insisted on certain banks was because of auditing process. This is so that we have a clear audit instead of us chasing banks all over the place.

“We said the bank should use their local branches to ensure that those 1,000 people selected in that Local Government Area go to those banks within that locality.” Keyamo said his ministry had to open up the process whereby beneficiaries could use any bank in their locality.

“We have made an adjustment in the last few months. We are not attaching a particular bank to a local government again. So, no matter what it is, we will achieve 98 per cent success on the programme.”

NDE DG Fikpo said the N52 billion appropriated for the scheme was domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), adding that funds were sent to the beneficiaries through the selected commercial banks.

The NDE, he said, compiled the details of the beneficiaries, including their bank accounts, and forward to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, which then instructs the CBN to disburse funds for payment.

Fikpo added: “It is the Accountant General that instructs CBN and then they effect the payment which was why sometimes we experience failed payments.

“We only intervene in the process when payment fails. We then communicate with the beneficiaries to sort out the issue with their banks.”

The programme was designed as a safety net for the unemployed.

It was inaugurated last year to last for three months between October and December.

One thousand beneficiaries were picked from each of the 774 local government councils in the country.

They were to do Special Public Works and be paid N20,000 monthly for the three-month duration.

Instead of the October commencement of the programme that was supervised by the NDE, many beneficiaries did not start until December.

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