The federal government has ruled out the possibility of lifting embargo on recruitment into the public service, saying it will not make any significant difference to the unemployment problem in the country.
It also disclosed that it had paid N28.8 billion as stipends to 413,630 beneficiaries across the 774 local government areas under its public work scheme introduced last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, who made this disclosure Thursday at the State House, Abuja while featuring at the ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team, said government was more concerned about improving the skills of Nigerians, and empower them to be self employed.
When asked to reconcile the fact that while government was battling to reduce unemployment, it continued to place embargo on recruitment and replacement in the civil service, the minister said: "I think your question assumes that the kind of employment we want to create is in civil service, that's not the idea of employment."
According to him, public service employment globally account for less than 1% of employment in the country.
He added that it will be very short sighted of government to think it can lift people out of poverty and create employment by opening up gaps in the civil service to employ people.
"How many are we going to employ for the 33% (unemployment rate) that we have now? So high.
"The unemployment figures are indefensible. The 33% was compounded more by the COVID scourge, the whole world is reeling from the COVID scourge. So, we need to react more innovatively to create employment.
"And for us, we are working very hard to ensure that we skill up Nigerians. The way to approach on employment is to skill up the populace. That's the way out, to encourage the small, the macro small and medium scale entrepreneurs, support their businesses, ensure that people are self employed, skill them up," he said.
Keyamo stated that about N24,817,800,000.00 has been paid out to beneficiaries under the 774,000 special public works scheme as at June 24th, 2021.
According to him, a total of 413,630 Nigerians drawn from rural communities and mostly itinerant workers were beneficiaries in the scheme that has achieved 60% success.
He explained that the initial delay experienced in the implementation of the programme was caused by incomplete registration, especially with bank verification numbers.
The minister maintained that despite his attempts to ensure due diligence in the implementation of the programme, some people tried to cheat the process by opening multiple bank accounts under a single BVN.
Keyamo further said: "So far, those we have paid have received their N60,000 for the three months. We saved so many lives across the country by this payment. Some used their own to buy grinding machine. I just discovered a grinding machine costs about N45,000.
"We have paid 413,630 persons out of the 774,000. So, we've achieved about 60 per cent of the success rate and these are those who have received N60,000 each. And the total amount we have paid out is N24 billion, actual monies given to Nigerians to put in their pockets. For them to cushion the effects of post COVID-19."