Senate panel requests names and account details of beneficiaries
The Senate Public Accounts Committee has opened an investigation into the special public works program coordinated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in 2020.
The panel demanded a list of the 774,000 Nigerian beneficiaries the program aimed to recruit.
The committee decided to request the list on Tuesday after some of its members revealed that none of their constituents had benefited from the program launched in 2020.
In 2020, the Nigerian government has earmarked 52 billion naira for the special public works program – to recruit 1,000 young Nigerians in each of 774 local governments for three months and pay them 20,000 naira each.
The planned implementation became controversial when lawmakers clashed with Festus Keyamo, the minister of state for labor and employment, who was coordinating the scheme.
While the minister said lawmakers wanted to circumvent him despite receiving 15% of positions in the program, lawmakers said the minister should not be in charge of the program.
They passed a resolution making NDE the executing agency and accusing Mr. Keyamo of wanting to sabotage it from the agency.
The lawmakers also urged the Ministry of Finance to release the funds for the implementation of the special public works program directly to the NDE. The ministry has been warned against releasing the funds if it breaches due process, the Appropriation Act 2020 (as amended) as well as the NDE Act.
A few weeks later, the federal government announced the launch of the program and a few times Mr. Keyamo tweeted about the progress made so far.
In defending the NDE budget on Tuesday, committee members present said none of the constituent members had benefited from the scheme.
Rivers Sen. George Sekibo told the panel that no one was selected from voters he nominated for a job.
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He complained that all names submitted by federal lawmakers, who are the true representatives of the people, were not considered.
In the same vein, Michael Nnachi (PDP, Ebonyi South) said he could not identify a single person from his constituency who benefited from his senatorial constituency.
He therefore proposed that the NDE produce the list of beneficiaries for his senatorial constituency.
After the deliberation, committee chairman Mathew Urhoghide gave the NDE two weeks to submit a full report of plan beneficiaries in all 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Committee members also unanimously agreed that the NDE submit the names, phone numbers and account details of 1,000 beneficiaries in each of the 774 local government areas within two weeks.
Although NDE representative Isah Abdul, director of the agency, asked for three weeks to give the agency enough time to compile a comprehensive list, the panel refused.
The NDE is expected to appear before the committee in two weeks with a full list of beneficiaries.
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