President Buhari in a statement, which dismissed the N5,000 as largesse, has drawn the ire of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which described the declaration by the President as an abandonment by the APC of the promise it made to Nigerians.
The President’s Saudi pronouncement contrasts sharply with those of some APC government officials who had, at different times and on various occasions, assured Nigerians that the fund to implement the promised allowance had been provided for in the 2016 Budget, which is currently before the National Assembly.
President Buhari, who is on a one-week official visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, said during an interactive session in Saudi Arabia that he could not pay those not employed.
He said he had a “slightly different priority” from the position of his party on the payment of N5, 000 to unemployed youths, which he described as “largesse.”
President Buhari said rather than paying unemployed youths, his administration would build infrastructure and empower able-bodied men to work.
“This largesse, N5,000 for the unemployed, I have got a slightly different priority. I would rather do the infrastructure, the school and correct them and empower agriculture, mining so that every able-bodied person can go and get work instead of giving N5, 000 to those who don’t work,” Buhari declared.
The APC, which defeated the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party at the March 28 presidential election, had promised during its campaign that if elected to the central government, it would pay N5,000 monthly to 25 million jobless youths. It also promised to introduce a free school-feeding programme.
A motion to compel President Buhari -led Federal Government to fulfil the campaign promise of paying the unemployed youths was recently rejected in the Senate.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, had at different times this year, stated that the funds meant to fulfil the electoral promise had been built into the 2016 Budget.
Akande had said the Presidency’s social protection plan had been segmented into six plans, namely Teach Nigeria; youth empowerment programme; conditional cash transfer; homegrown school feeding programme; free education for science, technology, engineering and mathematics students in tertiary institutions; and micro-credit scheme.
Under the conditional cash transfer which, according to him, is for extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians, Akande said N5, 000 would be paid monthly to one million Nigerians.
He had also said work was ongoing on the identification of beneficiaries, stressing that it was the desire of the government to ensure the commencement of the programme in 2016.