The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has no power to order a stop to the selection process of 774000 Special Public Workers by the commissioned State Committees, neither do they have the constitutional rights to influence the outcome of the selection itself. This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment and supervising Minister for National Directorate of Employment, NDE, Mr Festus Egwarewa Adeniyi Keyamo in a press release yesterday, 30th June 2020.
Mr Keyamo made this known following the imbroglio between him and a Senate Committee yesterday, where he had insisted that the members of press and the general public be allowed to cover and witness the deliberations between himself and the Senate Committee, because the programme was for the Nigerian people of all backgrounds and was very important to all well-meaning citizens of the country.
It was disclosed that the Senate Committee gave him his leave from the chambers, they ordered the suspension of the selection process of the programme which had already commenced. This, according to the Minister who is a seasoned human rights lawyer, is a case of gross disobedience of the Executive arm of government and is null and void. He asked the various States Committees to continue their work undettered.
Politicians, especially the members of the National Assembly have been pressuring the Minister to allow them take over the control of the programme and determine who gets what and how. But the Minister has declined their offer, going ahead as he was entrusted by the presidency to do. See the press release below.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2020.
PRESS RELEASE BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF STATE, LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT, MR. FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN, FCIArb (UK)
PURPORTED SUSPENSION OF SELECTION PROCESS OF 774,000 JOBS BY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMMITTEES:
ALL STATES’ SELECTION COMMITTEES SHOULD PROCEEED WITH THEIR WORK UNHINDERED.
Today, in obedience to their invitation, I appeared before the Joint Committees on Labour of both the Senate and the House. The Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members sought to be briefed on the implementation of the Special Public Works Programme so far.
However, there was a misunderstanding between us when they questioned why I did not privately submit the program to them for vetting before taking certain steps. They suggested that they ought to have an input on how the programme should be implemented.
In other words, they sought to control the programme as to who gets what, where and how.
However, I insisted that I could not surrender the programme to their control since their powers under the constitution does not extend to that. They insisted on a closed door session.
At this point, I remarked that it was only fair for me to respond to their position before the press, since their own position was also made public. In any case, I remarked that the Nigerian people deserve to know the details of the execution of this all-important programme.
I was then asked to apologize for insisting on a public interaction and I said there was nothing to apologize about, because their powers to expose corruption provided for in section 88 of the Constitution cannot be exercised in private.
As such, there was no need to apologize by insisting on a Constitutional provision.
Even their Rules that may provide for private hearings on public matters cannot override the provisions of the Constitution. I was then permitted to leave. I took a bow and left.
I NEVER walked out on the respected Committees as they may want to bend the narrative.
After I left, I understand that the Joint Committees purportedly suspended the work of the Selection Committees nationwide until they decide how the programme should be run and who should be in those Committees. My opinion is that it is tantamount to challenging the powers of Mr. President.
I regret to say that their powers under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution is only limited to investigations, but NOT TO GIVE ANY DIRECTIVE TO THE EXECUTIVE.
A Committee or Committees of both Houses do not even have powers to pass binding Resolutions. They can only make recommendations to Plenary. In this case, even Plenary CANNOT give DIRECTIVES to the Executive.
All my life, I have fought for good governance and constitutional democracy. I will not come into government and be intimidated to abandon those principles. I will rather leave this assignment, if Mr. President so directs than compromise the jobs meant for ordinary Nigerians who have no Godfathers or who are not affiliated to any political party.
I therefore, respectfully further direct all the Committees set up nationwide made up of CAN, NSCIA, NURTW, Market Women, CSOS, Youth Organisations, respected traditional rulers, etc to proceed with their work unhindered. Only Mr. President can stop their work.
FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN, FCIArb(UK)
Hon. Minister of State.