The Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, has threatened that unless the Ministry of Labour and Employment hands off the plan for the modalities of employment of 1000 Special Public Workers and leave that aspect for the National Directorate of Employment alone, including the selection of the proposed 20-man Committee per State and the Federal Capital Territory, there will not be a smooth relationship between the Senate and the Ministry. The Senate President said that the Senate approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for ₦52 billion for the programme without any objections because they were in support of the goodwill behind his gesture, and because it was proposed that the NDE which has a vast staff base and branches in all the state of the federation, will undertake the execution of the programme by themselves. He said that “You will do everything possible for your ministry to continue to have a decent and cordial relationship with the committees that oversight the ministry, This National Assembly can support you very very well, but it can stand tough if it’s will is tested.”
The Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who came along with the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, along with representatives of the NDE and the Ministry of Labour and Employment, had apologised for the altercation between the Minister of State and the relevant senate committee, saying that a cordial and peaceful relationship was necessary for the actualisation of the programme and other objectives of the two bodies. Ngige reiterated that the programme was strictly a presidency programme which is entrusted to the Ministry to carry out and by law, the Ministry is on the right direction for implementation. However, he said that it was necessary for the ministry to work with the National Assembly, especially the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment, to succeed. The Minister said that the Senate should relax the suspension of the work of the Committees selected to enable them begin their assignments in earnest.
Ngige and his team had gone to the leadership of the Senate to interface with them on the recent misunderstanding between Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN and the Senate Committee on Employment, today 7th July, 2020.
The Minister however, said that the position of Festus Keyamo is not sacrosanct, but advised that care should be taken to ensure that the programme is not jeopardised.
The Senate President in his speech, said that the Senate by the stipulation of the Constitution, can accept or reject the requests of the president. He said that they are representing Nigerians and their interest is only the success of the programme. He said by virtue of the spread and personnel strength of the NDE, the senate will not accept any other body taking the responsibility of selecting the Committee for the States for the Special Public Work programme.
Switch Nigeria had reported that the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, had alleged that some politicians, including members of the National Assembly, are putting him under pressure to hand over the programme to them. Click here to read our story on Keyamo’s allegations.
The position of the Senate has appeared to have shifted from them controling the employment directly, to them asking for the ministry to give the NDE full control to set up the Committees in the States. Also, the Senate president was not clear as to what specific law binds them to give directives concerning the programme. Especially on the back of the fact that the funds for the project have already been approved by the National Assembly.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Ewarewa Adeniyi Keyamo said, “My involvement in this process so far, is to constitute multi-sectoral committees at State levels to ensure a grassroots selection process. This was done after an inter-Ministerial Committee headed by the DG NDE made such a recommendation, which I accepted. As stated above, I am authorized to do so by virtue of Section 16 (1) of the NDE Act. As a result, all the sponsored allegations and attacks in relation to my role so far are nothing but cheap blackmail. My actions are backed by law. In the circumstances of the above, I regret to say I am not bound by such a patently illegal and unconstitutional resolution by the National Assembly and I am only bound by the provisions of the law and the Constitution that all public officers swore on oath to uphold.”