Friday, April 25, 2014

FCT minister denies lying about jobs, but finds no answer for failed job registration


Olajumoke Akinjide, state minister of FCT

FCT minister reacts to PREMIUM TIMES’ report, but fails to clarify why her promise failed to materialize

The Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, Olajumoke Akinjide, on Friday rejected a PREMIUM TIMES’ report detailing a failed job registration she announced, putting up claims her ministry generated thousands of jobs in the last one year, and plans for more.

The report contradicted the minister’s pledge in November of a “massive” job drive in Abuja before the end of 2012.

The jobs, Ms. Akinjide said, were to be under the federal government administered Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, and targeted 10,000 slots.

But with the year winding to an end from November, the minister advised interested applicants to register for the slots at the FCT Social Development, a directive that proved misleading as the exercise did not hold.

Applicants who responded to the call found no registration going on at the Social Development Secretariat or elsewhere, and repeated inquiries and visits by PREMIUM TIMES reporters confirmed same.

Several officials who responded to our inquiries denied knowledge of the registration and amidst a trail of conflicting reactions. One official, speaking in confidence, said registration had been concluded in March, many months before the minister’s notice arrived November.

The official said more than the required 10,000 names had been obtained, foreclosing the possibility of even more names as the minister suggested.

An official position from the ministry ahead of the publication denied the minister’s remark was misleading. But the office failed to explain why the exercise failed to hold as the minister announced, and why officials at the named secretariat were unaware of the exercise.

Should there have been a change in the venue too, no such details was made available, our findings showed.

Those details and explanation remained unavailable as of Friday, days to end of the year.

A statement from the minister’s office late Friday, did not provide the details and did not refute PREMIUM TIMES’ earlier report that the registrations did not hold at the named venue, and as such the minister’s announcement was misleading.

Spokesperson, Oluyinka Akintunde, said the minister did not lie, but provided no explanation on the scheduled registration.

“The Honourable Minister of State did not lie and had no reason to lie about the engagement of the 10,000 women and youths,” Mr. Akintunde said.

Mr. Akintunde however said the ministry had provided 4,000 jobs within the past one year, and 3,000 more were being “scrutinized” as part of the 10,000 target for each of the 36 states and the FCT.

PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify those figures at the time of this report.

The federal government has said it plans to generate, through SURE-P, 370,000 jobs, with each state and Abuja providing 10,000.

A second component of the programme, tagged the Graduate Internship Scheme, GIS, is to help raise another 100,000.

But the scheme has taken off to a troubled start with serious allegations of misuse of funds and failure to deliver on any of the targeted projects across the states.

At a recent budget meeting, National Assembly members dismissed SURE-P as a drain pipe for public funds.

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