The Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr. Festus Keyamo, traded words with members of the National Assembly (NASS) over the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) recruitment exercise.
Trouble started when the Director-General of the NDE, Mr. Nasiru Ladan, could not defend the N52 billion budgeted for the recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians under the NDE.
The minister said his ministry was asked to supervise the recruitments by the President Muhammadu Buhari. But the federal lawmakers disagreed with Keyamo.
Keyamo insisted the NASS joint committee on labor lacked the power it arrogated to itself and asked members of the selection committees nationwide to ignore the stop-work directive.
Keyamo who was reportedly ordered out of the meeting of the NASS joint committee on Labour gave a different narrative of what truly transpired.
He said contrary to another variant of the report, he did not walk out on members of the committee.
Read Keyamo’s full statement issued 30 June:
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 input on how the program should be implemented. In other words, they sought to control the program as to who gets what, where, and how.
However, I insisted that I could not surrender the program to their control since their powers under the constitution do 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 program.
I was then asked to apologize for insisting on 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 program 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 are 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. Punch.