By Emem Idio
THE Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, has stated that the aim of the Federal Government Extended Special Public Works Programme,ESPW, was to shield the most vulnerable from the ravaging effects of Covid-19 pandemic which include but not limited to, pervasive hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and joblessness.
Sylva, who stated this while flagging off the programme in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital yesterday, disclosed that 8,000 Bayelsa State unemployed indigenes across the eight local government areas of the state have been engaged in the programme which will last from January to April.
The Minister who was represented by his Technically Adviser on Niger Delta, Barr(Mrs) Ayambo Owei, pointed out that the need to address the challenges face by the people occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic informed the decision to implement the ESPW as a strategy to facilitate the creation of productive and inclusive societies in the nation.
“As I address you today, our target is to immediately engage the 8,000 selected unemployed in Bayelsa State for the programme to execute carefully selected projects across the eight local government areas in the state.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, I am convinced that it will provide the necessary economic palliatives to these 8,000 unemployed youths.”
In his remarks, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Labour and Employment, Mr. Otikito Federal, who represented the state governor, commended the federal government for the initiative and expressed the conviction that the aim of the programme would be achieved.
He said that the state government was ready to partner the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, to provide more opportunities for the people of the state, and advised the beneficiaries to put the opportunity to good use and be good ambassadors of the state by being diligent in carrying our their assigned duties.