President Buhari has approved the engagement of 774,000 Nigerians to serve as volunteers in a special public works programme aimed at cushioning the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
This was announced by Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning at a press conference on fiscal stimulus measures being carried out by the government in the face of the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Minister, 1,000 Nigerians are expected to be recruited for the programme from each of the 774 local governments in the country.
She revealed further that President Buhari also approved the sum of N60 billion for allowances and operational cost of the programme.
The Minister told the press that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the President had already approved a pilot special public works programme to kick-start in 8 states under the supervision of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
With the present reality however, Buhari directed that the programme be extended to all 36 States of the federation including the FCT between October and November, 2020.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is also evaluating how best to extend the Special Public Works Programme, to provide modest stipends for itinerant workers to undertake Roads Rehabilitation and Social Housing Construction.
And also Urban and Rural Sanitation, Health Extension and other critical services. This intervention will be undertaken in conjunction with the key federal ministries responsible for Agriculture, Environment, Health and Infrastructure, as well as the states, to financially empower individuals who lose their jobs due to the economic crisis.
“Mr. President has approved the establishment of a-N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund. The establishment of the Fund will involve drawing much-needed cash resources from various Special Funds and Accounts, in consultation with and with the approval of the National Assembly.
“The N500 billion is proposed to be utilized to upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and approved by Mr. President.
“This will help to finance the Federal Government’s Interventions to support states in improving healthcare facilities, finance the creation of a Special Public Works programme and Fund any additional interventions that may be approved by Mr. President”.
The Minister noted further that although Nigeria experienced a similar economic situation in 2008/09, there were fewer fiscal buffers in 2020.
According to the Minister, a blown up COVID-19 pandemic in the country will make effects the low price of oil on the international market severe.
This is why the government is working hard to curtail the spread of the virus in the country.
She said the fiscal stimulus package approved by President Buhari is part of a much larger Integrated policy Framework that covers the healthcare system, fiscal and economic conditions in Nigeria to help cope with economic challenges.