Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has said N24,000, 817,800 had been disbursed to beneficiaries of the 774,000 Special Public Works scheme as at June 24, 2021.
The minister, who reeled out the statistics yesterday at a media briefing coordinated by the Presidential Media Team in Abuja, pointed out that 413,630 Nigerians, drawn from rural communities and mostly itinerant workers, had been paid.
He argued that contrary to insinuations that the project had failed following initial delays in effecting payment, the programme has, instead, achieved a 60per cent success rate.
Keyamo attributed the teething problems to observed lapses during the registration phase, especially Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs).
Government’s attempts at ensuring due diligence in the implementation of the programme notwithstanding, he said the current administration discovered that some fraudulent Nigerians opened multiple bank accounts under a single BVN.
The minister stated that efforts to separate genuine applicants from those trying to defraud the scheme were the origin of delays witnessed at the commencement of the programme.
Further, Keyamo said the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily stalled the implementation process, but led the government to expand the initiative to capture those in the lowest rung of economic strata.
He acknowledged that a multi-sectoral approach was adopted to make the project all-inclusive.
The minister said: “When we wanted to introduce the special social works scheme here in Nigeria, the President first approved the pilot scheme because he thought, perhaps, we needed to test-run it to see what we can apply here. So, the first thing the President approved was that we should do eight states at that time. And not all the local governments, but just five, in selected states originally. That was in late 2019, and then I just became minister.
“So, we started implementation in January 2020 in eight states. We just started one month into the implementation when COVID-19 struck. So, we could not actually complete the exercise at that time. The Federal Government released one month stipends at that time to pay the beneficiaries in those eight states.”