The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has disclosed that the Extended Special Public Works programme (ESPW) was conceived as a strategy to tackle growing unemployment and insecurity in the country.
Aregbesola, who spoke during the flag-off of the Osun State special public works programme at the Local Government Service Commission, Government Secretariat, Abere Osun State.
The Minister who was represented by the former Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security in the State, Mr Kunle Ige, said the programme is aimed at addressing the most vulnerable people in the society from the economic effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The ESPW is an outcome of the Pilot Special Public Works Programme in the Rural Area approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and implemented by the NDE in early 2020.
“The pilot programme was implemented in eight states of the Federation in order to gauge its impact on addressing the ballooning population of the unemployed and rising insecurity in some parts of the country. This strategy was adopted to fast-track the achievement of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020).
“However, with the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, President Buhari directed the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) under the chairmanship of the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to craft economic measures to cushion the adverse socio-economic effects of the pandemic.
“The ESC delivered on its task with despatch and hence the key sectors of the economy underwent vigorous scrutiny and a blueprint termed the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) was developed with the various core Ministries steering the implementation of the approved programmes.
“Under the NESP, the Ministry of labour and Employment decided to adopt 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 which include, but are not limited to, pervasive hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, and joblessness.
“The need to quickly address the above mentioned informed the decision to implement the ESPW. As I address you today, our target is to immediately engage the 774,000 selected unemployed Nigerians for the programme to execute carefully selected projects across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.
“Each participating Local Government identified its preferred projects and will be responsible for ensuring that they are executed as planned. It is instructive to mention that all the tools and equipment required have been provided hence the Federal Government expects strong commitment from all stakeholders in ensuring efficient implementation.
“Although the ESPW is an ephemeral strategy (to last for three months, 5th January-4th April 2021); I am convinced that it will provide the necessary economic palliatives to these 774,000 unemployed youths. Added to this, the youth who diligently participate in the project’s implementation may deploy the knowledge /skills acquired to become self-employed. In addition, the government and the organized private sector may in due course create/provide exit options”, he said.
In his address, the State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his Administration’s commitment and keen interest in youth empowerment, saying the initiative was in line with Osun’s Development Agenda aimed at guaranteeing and securing a better future for the teeming youths in the State.
Oyetola who was represented by his Deputy, Mr. Benedict Alabi, said the Administration has developed workable modalities named “Osun Youth Policy” that articulates the government’s vision, objectives, and plans in driving its focused agenda for the young people.
The governor urged the beneficiaries of the programme to justify the confidence reposed in them by using the opportunity provided by the government to give their best in the service of the nation and the State.
He said “The programme, though a short-term response to the rising spate of unemployment in our country, deserves to be commended for its ambitious coverage and transparent recruitment process.