Fraud crisis rocks Special Public Works Programme in FCT
By Cyril Mbah, Abuja
The federal ministry of labour and employment has commenced investigation into allegations that widespread fraud in the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] marred the Extended Special Public Works Programme introduced by the federal government to provide jobs for 774,000 youths.
The investigation was allegedly instituted after series of petitions and complaints from members of the public on the distribution of the forms and the selection of beneficiaries by the committee headed by Alhaji Abdullahi Danladi Galadima, an All Progressives Congress (APC) member and a former chairman of Kuje Area Council.
Some stakeholders, who spoke on the matter, claimed that majority of the beneficiaries were members of the ruling APC and indigenes who were already engaged in other government employment programmes.
In some of the area councils, such as Gwagwalada and Kwali, youths allegedly duplicated the forms for their relations and this raised the number of application forms submitted to the committee beyond 1000 in the affected area council.
Recall that the youths in several communities of the FCT had complained earlier that forms for the scheme were not sufficient and could not go round the teeming unemployed people who had expected to be engaged through the scheme.
The youths accused chieftains of political parties, traditional rulers, religious and other decision makers in the community of hijacking the process and favouring their children or wards thereby reducing the quantity of forms shared out to the poorest and the needy.
Reacting to the allegations in an interview, the chairman, FCT committee on Special Public Works Employment Scheme, Alhaji Abdullahi Danladi Galadima denied the allegations of favouritism in the distribution of the forms.
He insisted that the committee was fair and strict in implementing a sharing formula that covered every segment of the society based on the guideline provided by Festus Keyamo, minister of state, federal ministry of labour and employment.
Galadima reiterated that members of the FCT 20-member committee were selected from different interest groups such as politicians, traditional and religious leaders, market associations and youth council leaders and wondered how anybody could influence such a mixture of diverse people to favour sections of the community.
According to him, “Anybody who accuses the committee of partiality is either deliberately being economical with the truth or the person does not know what to say. I have no right to tamper with the number of forms or to change the allocation formulae. I have successfully submitted the forms for 1000 people in each area council. There was no partiality,” he stressed.
The chairman, however, appealed again to the federal government to increase the employment allocation quota for each local government, from 1000 to 2000 persons, explaining that many unemployed youths needed the jobs.