The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has said some politicians are blackmailing and pressurising him to enable them determine those to be allotted the 774,000 jobs President Muhammadu Buhari approved recently.
The 774,000 jobs are within a special public works programme (SPWP) targeted at recruiting 1,000 persons in each of the 774 local government areas to be implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
The programme, which is targeted at creating jobs for unskilled persons in rural areas, will last three months (October to December).
The workers are expected to clear and protect public infrastructure in rural areas while they earn N20,000 each within the three months.
Keyamo, who spoke during the inauguration of the states’ selection committee of the project, stressed that majority of the jobs must be allotted to ordinary Nigerians who need them.
The minister said he would not sacrifice his reputation and principles by going beyond the 10 to 15 per cent allocated to political officers, adding that only President Buhari could make him do otherwise.
“In the past, it used to be that certain people entrusted with this kind of programmes handed them over entirely to political leaders.
“There has been an attempt at blackmailing in this particular programme too to make us also yield to political leaders. But we have said no, not while I am here.
“Except Mr. President, who appointed and gave me the opportunity and rare privilege to drive this programme stops me, no other political leader or person can stop me. I am answerable only to Mr. President. This programme is for all Nigerians,” he said.
“Before coming here today, there has been an attempt by certain political leaders to say I must come and see them behind the scenes first to determine who gets what and how. I said no, I will not do that. I am ready at any time for a public debate on this with them,” he said.
Advising the committee chairmen not to allow the process from being hijacked by politicians, Keyamo warned that anyone caught under politicians’ bug would be relieved of the position and replaced immediately.
He added: “I think the chairmen can stand on their own. Don’t go and meet in any Government House to hold any meeting; don’t go to any politician’s house to do selections. Hold your meetings in NDE offices.
“The NDE is the one driving this programme; it has coordinators. Keep firm, stand firm. Nobody should be given more than what we allotted to the person.
“We are going to be strict in allotting to different sectors: civil society, market women. Wait for directives. So, nobody should intimidate the chairmen. I know the chairmen will stand their ground. I am also here to back them up. We are going to remove anybody who is dancing to the tune of anybody and undermining the drive of this programme.
“All my life, I have fought for good governance. I have gone to court to ensure that things are done right when out of government. That is what gave me my name and pedigree before I came into government. I have a practice to go back to. I want to reach the zenith of my profession.
“Nobody will come and dictate to me the work that Mr. President told me to do. I cannot come into government and then abandon all the principles I fought for while I was out of government. I will not do that. Any attempt to intimidate or blackmail us here, we will not give in, except Mr. President tells me to stop; then, I will stop.”