The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, and supervising Minister for National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Barrister Festus Keyamo has made known his battles with politicians, including members of the National Assembly, N’Ass, who are trying to hijack the Special Public Works (SPW) Programme of the presidency. He said, “It used to be that certain people entrusted with this kind of programmes handed them over entirely to political leaders. There has been an attempt at blackmailing too to make us also yield to political leaders. But we have said no. 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. I am answerable only to Mr. President. This programme is for all Nigerians.”
News has been rife with moves by politicians to corner slots in the targeted 400000 NPower recruitment process, something that the president of the Senate has exonerated himself from, declaring that he is not involved in such corrupt practice. This latest outburst from the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) will cast a big shadow on the integrity of the National Assembly.
Speaking at the Commissioning of the State Committees yesterday, Keyamo said “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 am ready at any time for a public debate on this with them.
“Ordinary Nigerians must have access to this programme. Those who are thinking I must come and see them behind the scene to determine who gets what and how they get it, I am saying no; I will not do that.
“I think the chairmen can stand on their own; don’t go and hold meetings in the house of politicians to select; hold your meetings in NDE offices. Don’t go and meet in any government house to hold any meeting, don’t go to any politicians’ house to do selections.”
The Minister said the programme will be supervised by the Ministry through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). Each participant would be paid ₦20000 and a total of ₦60000 for the three months that the programme will run. The programme is expected to last from October to December, 2020.
He said, “Nobody should be given more than we allotted to the person. We are going to be strict in allotting to different sectors: civil society, market women wait for those directives; so, nobody should intimidate the chairmen. I know the chairmen will stand their ground; I am also here to back them up. We are going to remove anybody who is dancing to the tune of anybody and undermining the drive of this programme.
“All my life, I have fought for good governance; I have gone to court to ensure that things are done right when out of government. That is what gave me my name and pedigree before I came into government and I have a practice to go back to. I want to reach the zenith of my profession.
“So, nobody will come and dictate to me the work that Mr. President told me to do. So, I cannot come into government and then abandon all the principles I fought for while I was out of government. I will not do that. Any attempt to intimidate or blackmail us here we will not give in except Mr. President tells me to stop then I will stop.”
“There have been attempts at blackmailing me in this particular programme too to make us also yield to political leaders and we have said no – not while I am here. I have a pedigree; I have a background; I have where I am coming from. Before I came into public office, I have a pedigree and what I stand for.” Concluded the Minister.
The Minister was seen in a video arguing with some leaders of the National Assembly as he insisted that the meeting he was to hold with them must be on camera. “How can you expose corruption without the cameras?” Keyamo told some leaders of the legislative arm of Government during a meeting that appeared to have been botched by the refusal of the lawmakers to deliberate on camera. See the video below.