—Says only Buhari can stop him
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — MINISTER of state, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, Monday, vowed not to succumb to alleged blackmails and pressure by some politicians seeking to determine who gets the 774,000 jobs approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The 774.000 approved jobs were part of the effort of the Federal Government to reduce unemployment and comes under the special public works programme of National Directorate of Employment, NDE, specifically targeting unskilled persons in the rural communities.
Speaking at the official inauguration of the states selection committee of the programme in Abuja, the Minister for the umpteenth time insisted that majority of the jobs must be allotted to ordinary Nigerians who were in need of them.
He said that he would not sacrifice his reputation and principles by going beyond the 10 to 15 percent allotted to political officers, Keyamo said only President Buhari could make him do otherwise.
According to him, “In the past, it used to be that certain people entrusted with this kind of programmes hand them over entirely to political leaders.
“There has been attempt at blackmailing in this particular programme too to make us also yield into political leaders and we have said no, not while 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; am answerable only to Mr. President. This programme is for all Nigerians.
“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 and I said no, I will not do that and I am ready at any time for a public debate on this with them.”
He advised the newly committee chairmen not to allow the process be hijacked by politicians, warning that anyone caught under politicians bug would be relieved of the position and replaced immediately.
He said, “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 politicians house to do selections. Hold your meetings in NDE offices.
“NDE is the one driving this programme, they have 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 those 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 and 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.”
While appealing to the chairmen to consider women in the selection process, he said the programme could be extended or repeated annually, depending on the financial stability of government and successes attained in this first phase.
Responding on behalf of the newly inaugurated chairmen, Afolabi Joseph from Kogi State, assured that they would deliver their mandate in line with the federal government’s expectations to impact on the lives of the citizenry at the rural areas
The Federal Government approved the recruitment of 1,000 from each Local Government Area and the beneficiaries would be engaged between October and December in the areas peculiar to each LGA, and paid N20,000 per month.