Also, senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday asked the president to deliver on his election campaign promise of paying N5,000 monthly stipend to unemployed Nigerians.
This was sequel to the consideration of a motion raised on the floor of the Senate by Hon Bassey Albert Akpan, who noted that unemployment rates had not dropped in the country despite numerous funds put into government-run poverty alleviation programmes.
The Senate strongly condemned the high rate of unemployment in the country, considering the huge intervention funds expended by the federal government in various sectors of the economy over the years to boost domestic production capacity.
Though the decision to probe SURE-P was not contained in the initial recommendations of Sen Akpan’s motion, Sen Babajide Omoworare amended it by adding an additional recommendation asking the president to probe the agency.
Omoworare’s recommendation was sequel to an earlier amendment by Senator Philip Aduda (PDP, FCT), who, through an additional prayer, urged the federal government to fulfill one of its numerous campaign promises – pay stipends to unemployed Nigerians.
Senator Aduda said: “The federal government should immediately commence the payment of the N5,000 monthly stipend it promised during the pre-election campaign,” Aduda moved, but Sen Omoworare raised a point of Order 53(6) to oppose the additional prayer.
This led to bickering between senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
After normalcy was restored by the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, the Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, seconded Aduda’s prayer, which was put to vote and rejected after the Senate president ruled that the APC senators’ “nay” was more than the PDP senators’ “aye”.
Senator Omoworare then raised an amendment of his own to the resolutions of the motion, seeking that SURE-P be investigated to find out how funds meant for poverty alleviation were expended.
“I want to move that the immediate past government be made to account for every penny spent on SURE-P and other poverty alleviation programmes,” the senator from Osun State said.
When Saraki put the question to a voice vote, the ‘ayes’ response came from the APC senators, but the PDP senators kept mute to the nay call.
While leading the motion earlier, Sen Akpan had called on the federal government to take steps to boost entrepreneurial development and employment capabilities of the economy.
He proposed the integration of entrepreneurship, savings and investment culture and education into the educational curriculum at appropriate levels; and for both government and sub-national governments to intensify their efforts on employment generation activities in line with their various campaign promises.
He observed that the latest figures of Nigeria’s soaring unemployment situation by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) had increased to 8.2 percent in the second quarter of 2015 from 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and 6.4 percent in the last quarter of 2014.
“The latest statistics as released by the Bureau reveals that the economically active population, or working age comprising Nigerians within the age range of 15 to 64, is now 103.5 million, increasing from 102.8 million in the last quarter of 2015, while the unemployed labour force now stands at 74 million Nigerian youths. This is truly a calamity,” he noted.
He expressed concern that huge funds had been expended on intervention funds by the federal government to boost the productivity of various sectors of the economy in the last five years without any commensurate impact on employment generation.
“With a projected population growth of 200 million by 2020, we project an unemployed population of about 100 million Nigerians or more. Where lies the economic future of this country?
“If the unemployed youths of this country are effectively engaged in gainful employment, terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and other socio-economic and cultural vices will be drastically reduced. As the saying goes, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop,’” he said.