Senate in rowdy session over screening of Festus Keyamo

Temidayo Taiwo-SidiqAugust 7, 20236 min

The Special Public Works in the Rural Areas is an employment- intensive technique acquired and adapted by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) from one of the capacity-building collaborations with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 

 

 

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Keyamo

 

The Senate is currently in a rowdy session over a motion to step down the screening of Ministerial nominee, Festus Keyamo; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Following its screening of Dr. Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure, a Ministerial nominee from Kano; Keyamo was admitted into the Red Chamber where he made a presentation of his profile with high praise for the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio.

The atmosphere in the Chamber however soon changed when the Senate Minority Whip, Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central), moved a motion for the screening of Keyamo; the last person in the second batch of ministerial nominees to a later time as may be agreed by the lawmakers.

 

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The Abia lawmaker recalled events from year 2020 where Keyamo; then Minister of State, Labour and Employment, allegedly ignored summons by the Ninth National Assembly to provide explanations on the fifty-two billion naira (N52bn) Special Public Works Programme under his purview as a junior Minister.

The National Assembly had in the 2020 budget appropriated the sum of N52 billion for the Special Public Works Programme for the employment of 774,000 citizens, a thousand from each of the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.

According to Senator Nwokocha, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria further insulted Members of the National Assembly in defence of his actions at the time, explaining that Keyamo created an impression that the lawmakers were out for their own benefits. The Senate Minority Whip thus asked that the Senate steps down the screening to a time he was ready to explain how the sum appropriated to create seven hundred and seventy -four (774) jobs across the country.

 

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Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA, Abia South) in seconding the motion drew the attention of his colleagues to Section 88 of the Constitution which mandates the parliament to look into the affairs of MDAs.

The development soon led to a rowdy session just as lawmakers from both the Majority and Minority caucuses left their seats to approach the Presiding Officer with a bid to influence his decision on the matter. Senator Akpabio would later rise from his seat to convey the need for decorum among his colleagues.

The Senate thereafter proceeded into an executive session (closed session) to address the issue; follwoing a motion by the Senate Majority Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central).

 

 

 

WHAT TO NOTE:

 It was a theatre of the Absurd at the National Assembly Tuesday as the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, exchanged hot words with Senators and members of House of Representatives over the National Directorate of Employment recruitment exercise.

In June 2020 during an interactive session between the Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Labour and the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, the meeting ended dramatically following a shouting bout between Keyamo; then Minister and the lawmakers.

Members of the Committee had requested that Nasiru Ladan; the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), speaks on the composition of a 20-Member Committee inaugurated by the Ministry for the implementation of the planned employment of Nigerians in the Special Public Works Programme 2020

Trouble however started when the NDE DG could not defend the N52bn appropriated for the employement of 774,000 Nigerians under his Directorate. Midway into his explanation which was largely unsatisfactory to the lawmakers, Ladan stated that he was aware of only 8 members of the committee, asking the lawmakers to seek clarification from the Minister.

 

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The lawmakers who perceived that he was not in control of the programme, raised issues of acute lopsidedness in the recruitments and accused the Minister of hijacking the programme from the NDE. . With the lawmakers noting their disagreement with Keyamo’s stance that his ministry was asked to supervise the recruitments by then President Muhammadu Buhari, a shouting march ensued where the Minister was seen to have hit the table almost immediately the lawmakers threw the question,

The Minister at a later meeting further vowed not to bow to pressure which he described as blackmails by certain politicians interested in determining who gets the 774,000 jobs approved by President Buhari.

According to Keyamo, majority of the jobs must be for ordinary Nigerians in need of them, stressing that he would not sacrifice his principles by going over and beyond the 10 to 15 percent allotted to political officers. For him, only President Buhari could make him do otherwise.

“In the past, it used to be that certain people entrusted with this kind of programmes hand them over entirely to political leaders.There has been attempt at blackmailing in this particular programme too to make us also yield into political leaders and we have said no, not while am here.

Except Mr. President who appointed and gave me the opportunity and rare privilege to drive this programme stops me, no other political leader or person can stop me; am answerable only to Mr. President. This programme is for all Nigerians.

Before coming here today there has been an attempt by certain political leaders to say I must come and see them behind the scenes first to determine who gets what and how and I said no, I will not do that and I am ready at any time for a public debate on this with them.”

Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq

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