FG flags off extended public works programme in Lagos

… As Lagos Gets 20000 slots

The Federal Government today in Lagos launched the Extended Special Public Works (SPW) Programme aimed at providing jobs for unemployed Nigerians

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, speaking through his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, at the official flag-off ceremony, held at the Adeyemi-Bero Auditorium, Alausa-Ikeja, stated that the programme implemented through the National Directorate of Employment, in collaboration with State Governments and other relevant stakeholders, will provide 774,000 jobs for Nigerians across all the local government areas out of which 20,000 will be in Lagos.

Sanwo-Olu noted that the initiative part of government efforts to stem the tide of rising unemployment and also cushion the effect of the COVID-19 on citizens, adding that the gesture will also complement the State’s programmes that provide opportunities for young people to be productively engaged.

While appreciating the initiative of the Federal Government, Mr. Governor appealed for an increase in the allocation to the State due to the huge population as well as the daily influx of people from other parts of the country.

He recalled that the State flagged off its Graduate Internship Placement Programme in collaboration with the private sector organisations a few weeks ago, just as the State Employment Trust Fund has also continued to fulfil its mandate of supporting creative youths support to become micro and small scale business entrepreneurs.

The Governor thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the leadership that has enabled the successful take-off of the programme and appreciated the efforts of the team that made the event a reality in spite of the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.

While congratulating the 20,000 Lagosians selected to participate in the programme, the Governor urged the beneficiaries to be good ambassadors of the State, adding that positive attitude and commitment to the assignment would create more opportunities for other unemployed residents in Lagos State.

Earlier in his address, the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who was represented by the Federal Controller of Works, Lagos State, Engr. Kayode Popoola disclosed that the Extended Special Public Works Programme is an outcome of the Pilot Special Public Works Programmes in the Rural Area as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the programme is been implemented in eight states of the Federation to gauge its impact on the large population of unemployed youths and the rising insecurity in some parts of the country, stressing that the strategy was adopted to fast-track the achievement of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020).

Stating that the programme is targeted at engaging 774,000 selected unemployed Nigerians to execute carefully selected projects across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country, the Minister added that each participating Local Government Area identified its preferred projects and will be responsible for ensuring that the tasks executed as planned.

In his welcome address, the Acting Director-General, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, who was represented by the Director, Human Resources, Mrs. Adeola Awulat Shafar, emphasised that the programme is a very significant step in Nigeria’s quest to win the war against mass unemployment as well as to ameliorate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “the Extended Special Public Works programme has been designed as a veritable tool through which the lives of 774,000 unemployed Nigerians would be positively touched in the next three months. Our communities will receive a facelift through the activities of the participants as they will engage in various community specific public works activities ranging from drainage clearing and maintenance, vegetation control, feeder road maintenance and irrigation among many others”.

Fikpo, therefore, charged all participants from the State to reciprocate the gesture of the Federal Government by diligently executing their assigned tasks through the duration of the programme.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.