The Senate on Monday drilled the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN and the Director General, National Directorate of Employment, NDE, Abubakar Fikpo for several hours over the unpaid N7.3 billion to the remaining beneficiaries of 774, 000 Special Public Works, SPW programme.
The SPW programme, introduced in October 2019, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval, is domiciled in the National Directorate of Employment, NDE.
The programme seeks to address the problem of unemployment across the country, especially in the rural areas, thus making the unemployed youth more useful to themselves and society.
Beneficiaries of the programme are to be paid N20,000 each for three months.
Keyamo, while responding to lawmakers inquiries on the delay in disbursing the allowance when he appeared for the 2022 budget defence of his ministry before the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment, chaired by Senator Godiya Akwashiki at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, said it was due to bank issues.
He, however, promised that the ministry would ensure that the funds are disbursed before the end of December this year.
The minister, while making clarifications on the commercial banks used in disbursing the fund said that the ministry insisted on certain banks because of auditing process.
“This is to enable us 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 a particular local government area go to those banks within that locality,” he stressed.
Keyamo, however, said that the ministry has opened up the process whereby beneficiaries could use any bank in their locality instead of the only previously selected banks.
He said: “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.”
Also making further clarification on the allowance, the Director-General of NDE, Abubakar Fikpo said that the agency “does not have access to the funds for the beneficiaries.”
He stressed that the mode of payment to the participants was such that all monies were domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“Each time we are proposing to pay, once we prepare the details for payment, what we do is that we send it to the Accountant General not even the CBN.
“It is the Accountant General who communicates with the CBN that upholds these things and then pay. That is the process.
“What we normally send to the Accountant General are names of participants, their account numbers, BVN, bank details and the amount.
“It is the Accountant General that instructs the CBN and then they effect the payment which was why sometimes we experience failed payment,” the director general stressed.
After all explanation by the minister and the Director General, chairman of the committee Senator Godiya Akwashiki said the duo would be invited by the committee for update on the programme.
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