By Douglas Okoro
Abakaliki, Jan. 11, 2021 The Federal Government on Monday in Abakaliki inaugurated the Extended Special Public Works Programme (ESPWP), in Ebonyi.
Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology during the inauguration in Abakaliki, said that the programme was part of strategies by President Muhammadu Buhari to reduce hardship among the youth.
He said that under the programme, participants would help to maintain public works owned by the Federal, state and local governments.
According to the minister, no fewer than 13, 000 participants selected from across the 13 local government areas of the state will take part in the programme.
Onu said that the programme would run for a period of three months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic which gripped the whole world in 2020 resulted in an enormous economic dislocation in the country.
“This further aggravated the unemployment problem as many factories and businesses were closed in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease.
“Mr President in his determination to reduce hardship and suffering induced by economic lockdown took a decision to offer assistance to as many as 1,000 unemployed youths in every LGA in the country.
“Here in Ebonyi, as many as 13,000 youths will benefit from this programme which is aimed at helping in the maintenance of public facilities at the various levels of governments,’’ Onu said.
He noted that work to be done in each LGA maybe different but on the whole, the end result would be to ensure that public works were properly and adequately maintained.
Onu charged stakeholders and members of the Ebonyi ESPWP committee to ensure that projects identified for execution were efficiently implemented.
“Since all the tools and equipment required to execute these projects have been provided, the Federal Government expects a strong commitment from all stakeholders in ensuring efficient implementation.
“Its expected that both the knowledge and skills acquired in the execution of these projects will be helpful in making participants become self-employed later in the future,’’ he added.
Onu urged the private sector to show interest in employing the participants after they had acquired additional knowledge and skills in the process of implementing this programme.
He assured that the Federal Government would closely monitor the implementation of the programme to determine how efficient the resources, both human and material invested were utilised.
Earlier, Gov. Dave Umahi in a goodwill message said that the works programme would take youths out of the streets and reduce crime.
He commended Buhari for his pro-people economic empowerment programmes and policies, adding that the state government would support the programme to enable it succeed.
Umahi, represented by Chief Kenneth Ugbala, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) described Buhari as a man with good character and content whose vision had taken Nigeria to an enviable height.
“This special programme will really take our youths out of the streets because we know that when our youths are productively engaged, they will think less of crime.
“We want to thank Mr President and his team for this beautiful initiative and urge participants to make good use of the wonderful opportunity,’’ Umahi said.
Meanwhile, Malam Abubakar Nuhu, the Acting Director-General, National Directorate of Employment (NDE) expressed confidence that proper implementation of the programme would contribute significantly to the upliftment of unemployed Nigerians.
Nuhu, represented by Dr Michael Mbata, an official of the Directorate appealed to Nigerians living within the benefitting communities to cooperate with participants and officials as they go about their duties.