The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said that the ministry is ready to fine-tune the Special Public Works Programme to make it more decent as the government is working to create more opportunities for Nigerians.
Ngige who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Peter Yerima Tarfa made the admission on Tuesday during the National Conference on Employment Promotion held at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
The event titled:’ Addressing the Challenges of Employment and Reintegration at the National and Sub-National Levels in the Post Covid-19 Era: Impact and Policy Response,’ was organised by the Ministry of Labour in collaboration with Employment German Corporation, GIZ and the International Labour Organisation.
The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic had worse Nigeria’s unemployment rate to 33.33 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Many Nigerian businesses have gone bankrupt, particularly MSMEs in the country.
Part of the intervention programmes to reduce the impact of the pandemic on Nigerians was the SPW designed to create 774,000 jobs at a pay of N20,000.
The programme was overhauled by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the National Directorate of Employment .
The minister said, “I note the comment by the representative of the TUC on the sustainability and also the impact of that programme. I want to throw a challenge to this meeting to discuss how we can work the sustainability of such a programme and to fine tune it for better delivery and better impact.”
This was after the Trade Union Congress President, Quadri Olaleye called the N20,000 wage pegged for the programme as ‘indecent.’
Olaleye said, “The Federal government has implemented her Special Public Works (SPW) programme meant to create 774,000 jobs for unemployed youths.
“While this might seem laudable, we need to pay attention to the quality of those jobs and how they contribute to our national development.
“Are the jobs such that would be regarded as decent and sustainable? These are questions that need to be asked. The fact that we have graduates of tertiary institutions earning N20,000 monthly is a problem in itself that must be addressed immediately.”
For the International Labour Organisation, the Nigerian government needs to create decent jobs to overcome some of its economic challenges.
The ILO Country Office Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Liaison for ECOWAS, Ms Vanessa Lerato Phala, said the government has stepped up effort to create employment, but advocated for a more decent job creation.
Phala said, “How do we begin to talk about decent work? And for us at the ILO, the issues about decent employment is very important, we are not talking about any jobs, we are talking about jobs that are decent and I think for us the articulation of that decent work agenda and the core of it is the fundamental principles.”
Phela said both public and private actors need to collaborate to reduce the rate of the informal sector so that their needs can be adequately captured.