The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress has alleged that there are attempts by agents of the Rivers State Government to blackmail the All Progressives Congress and drag the party into a needless confrontation over the implementation of the ongoing employment scheme driven by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The APC in a statement by its spokesman, Ogbonna Nwuke said, “We have intended to maintain a dignified silence over what we consider a misguided reaction on the part of the representative of the Rivers State Governor. We are however compelled by circumstances to react in order to clear the air and keep the record straight.”
It reads: “We state emphatically that while some special interest groups, including CAN, NURTW as well the Rivers State Government, to mention a few, have been drafted under the programme to ensure Rivers people benefit from the Federal Government's scheme, the APC has maintained a safe distance from its implementation.
“The reason is that the APC respects the template painstakingly drawn up by the supervising Ministry which is being followed religiously across the country by all who wish to ensure that the unemployed in their midst, notably able bodied youths, widows and physically impaired persons, are given a unique opportunity to earn a little in these horrific and difficult times.
“We are aware that as part of the guidelines put in place, all major groups as well as high ranking officials serving in the National Assembly or as heads of State Governments have been duly assigned slots as prescribed. What is left after the slots meant for the high and mighty who equally represent certain constituents are deducted, are reserved for the masses.
“We recognize that the aim of the ongoing programme is to create a minimum of 1000 jobs in each of the 23 LGAs in Rivers State. It is not something any one, or reasonable institution should politicize. Rivers people and other Nigerians who reside in the various LGAs ought to benefit from a humane policy enunciated by the Federal Government. This is perhaps the point of departure between the APC and the PDP led Government in Rivers State.
“Given our concern for the masses, we have refrained from involving ourself in the affairs of the Dr Bariko led Committee which is saddled with the responsibility of creating these much needed jobs in line with properly laid down guidelines. Although we do not intend to hold brief for the Committee, we still do not see how it strayed from its core mission.
“The argument that more people are being allowed to collect forms instead of pinning down the number of beneficiaries to a specific number of slots, defeats the wild allegation made by the Rivers State Government. The truth is that the approach adopted by the Committee gives more persons who could have been excluded from the process, the opportunity to vie for the limited slots.
Those who ordinarily have no godfathers; no access to strong men; would certainly have a rare chance of placing food on their breakfast tables, where a straight jacketed arrangement proposed by the Rivers State Government as reason for its withdrawal from the scheme is not allowed to operate.
“From our point of view, It is obvious that the government has a predetermined number of persons who should earn places under the scheme. Even though such a posture would be anthetical to the observance of fair play and justice, we would not oppose the idea of a parellel scheme by the Rivers State Government that is funded by taxpayers money which would give Rivers people access to jobs. The Rivers State Government should at least set a, good example for once!
“In conclusion, it is our view that the State Government's position on this matter is as unrealistic as it is unscientific. It cannot control a project that it did not initiate under whatever guise. Rivers people are no slaves. They are free borns who have a right to shape their own destiny. No one born of a woman has the right to negatively tamper with their right to survive on account of preconceived political considerations.
“While we commend the Federal Government for embarking on the scheme, we urge the good people of Rivers State to ignore the attempt of the Rivers State Government to politicize a process which gives them an equal to benefit from the actions and policies of a dependable administration that they voted to power at the centre.
“The APC in Rivers State would remain neutral and impartial on matters like this which affect the well being of a great majority of our people. And we thank the Bariko led Committee for ensuring that the scheme which is being hailed by the needy is not hijacked by anyone for selfish and political reasons.”