Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, has begged for time to pay protesting participants in the Federal Government’s Special Public Works (SPW) programme.
The workers are protesting the delay in paying their stipend more than three months after the programme’s kick-off.
The SPW is an Adhoc programme designed by the government to provide stop-gap three months jobs to mainly artisans to earn N20,000 monthly doing public works.
One thousand youths were hired from each of the 774 local government in the country as beneficiaries, bringing the figure to 774,000 councils.
The first batch of beneficiaries of the programme inaugurated on January 5 have completed their assignments without being paid.
President Muhammadu Buhari on March 20 directed the release of funds to pay the stipends.
Minister of Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo (SAN) hours after, directed the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Federal Government agency driving the programme, to start processing the payment plan.
Keyamo, in a tweet he shared on his official Tweeter handle, @fkeyamo, had assured the participants that they would soon receive alerts of payment.
Twenty-two days after, no payment has been made.
Some of the participants at the weekend took to Keyamo’s Twitter handle to ventilate their frustration.
One of them described the Federal Government as “heartless” for failing to pay them their stipend.
One Dubagari Jnr, tweeted: “What is happening with the SPW? Up till now, we have not been paid and have successfully finished our work. Please Hon. minister we need explanations on why we have not been paid and you have to start the disbursement before fasting (Ramadan).
Another worker, Maikudi Kolo, asked through a tweet: “Una no go pay 774,000 workers?”
Abdoul Baqee tweeted: “People are hungry regarding the payment of stipends. Please fast track the payment of these people. 774, 000 people waiting anxiously for their payment with hunger and they don’t even have phone to come to your timeline. When you get hungry just remember those people that work with hunger without their entitlement.”
Yusuf Mohammed Olawuyi asked: “Mr. Honourable minister, what happened to our SPW stipends? You already published that we will start receiving alert from the beginning of April.”
Reacting to the development, NDE acting Director-General Abubakar Fikpo said: “We are still in the process; we have identified some loopholes here and there. We want to verify the BVN of the participants. That is why we are working with the banks.
“We are verifying the BVN of those participants in order to avoid double payments to several people or to three or more accounts.”