- Plans mass protest.
Some of the aggrieved participants of the federal government three months Covid-19 palliative public works scheme in Kogi state have cried to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in their ordeal by directing the minister of state for labour, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN to urgently pay the monthly stipends to ameliorate their suffering.
The participants who decried the nonchalant attitude of the supervisory ministry – Ministry of Labour and Productivity – to their plight, who have kept them guessing of when to receive the stipends, alleged that their ordeal may not have been unconnected with the endemic corruption in the system.
The group, under the aegis of concerned members of the 2020 participants of public works scheme in Kogi state, noted that despite the repeated assurances by Keyamo that the money has been released for disbursement, their stipend has remained a mystery as they have not been paid months after the directive.
The leader of the group, Mr. Abubakar Usman in a chat with newsmen in Lokoja on Friday, stated that most of the members who applied through Zenith Bank, Heritage Bank and FCMB have found it practically impossible to access the stipend, five months after the program winded down.
According to Usman, some of the enrollees who used other banks have so far collected one month stipends, wondering why participants from aforementioned banks have not been able to collect theirs even after every necessary documents have verified and certified to be in order.
He added that his members, who are mostly residing in the rural areas, are made to bear the brunt of coming to the state capital almost on daily basis in attempt to collect the stipend to no avail, stressing that the financial burden is counting heavily on his members.
“The programme was designed for three months as a palliative against the Covid-19 pandemic for the vulnerable, women and young adults to engage in public works in their localities.
“The purpose of the government to put smile on the hapless citizens is being truncated by some unscrupulous elements in the Ministry who would want to convert the programme to their personal benefits.
“Some of our colleagues in some banks such as Access Bank and GT Bank have collected their first tranche, leaving us in the aforementioned banks to keep licking our wounds without solution.
“We have complained to the banks, who told us that they as a warehouse for the scheme have completed what is required of them and have forwarded to the authority concerned and were surprised that two months after some people are yet to get alerts.
“They said they were not the ones paying, theirs is to complete the necessary documentation to ensure that only the eligible participants are captured for payment, which they have done.
“We call on president Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgent importance direct the Minister of State for Labour to effect payment through these banks as we have reliably learnt that some highly placed persons want to use the scheme to siphon the money for their political career,” he alleged.
Meanwhile, he said his members would have no option than to take to the streets to press home their demand if the stipends is not being paid within the week.
It would be recalled that the Federal government had last year rolled out intervention programmes to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on the vulnerable persons in which public works scheme, which is to last for a three month duration, was initiated by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity and a twenty thousand naira per month stipend was approved. The intervention programme which commenced operation in October ended December, 2020.