By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The rift between the National Assembly and the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, is yet to settle as the former insists that the Special Works Programme of the Federal Government remains suspended till further notice.
The National Assembly also stated, that the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity had no constitutional powers to hijack the Special Works Programme of the Federal Government from the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, made these declarations yesterday, during an interactive session with the Senate Press Corps, at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
Lawan, who spoke while fielding questions from journalists, stressed that, the implementation of the Programme, which aims at recruiting 774,000 Nigerians with menial jobs, must be put on hold until the National Assembly was properly briefed on how it intended to execute the Programme.
He also explained that it was the National Directorate of Employment that has the constitutional jurisdiction to implement the Programme, noting however, that the Ministry has to supervise it and ensure judicious implementation.
Joint National Assembly Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, had invited Keyamo last week Tuesday, to furnish them with details of how the Programme would be implemented.
During the meeting which held at the Senate wing of the National Assembly complex, members of the Joint Committee demanded to know the method of selection of a 20-man committee from each state for the implementation of the programme.
The inquest of the lawmakers however, infuriated the Minister, leading to a heated argument between him and the Committee members, as the parliamentarians insinuated that he was handling the Programme without transparency.
When the altercation between Keyamo and the lawmakers escalated, the Minister of State opted to leave the meeting and go, accusing the legislators of trying to hijack and control to Programme.
Reacting to the matter yesterday, Lawan said: “National Assembly is saying that the programme remains suspended until the Executive arm of government comes to explain how they will implement that programme across the state.
“The Joint Committee resolved that the programme should be suspended until pcertain explanations are provided on how this Programme will be implemented.
“The Committee was trying to ask some questions and we are meant to interrogate the processes through which such Programme will be implemented.
“We insist that we passed the budget for National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to go and implement because it has the capacity.
“The Ministry doesn’t have the capacity to implement the Programme; the NDE has the capacity, and we insist only NDE will implement this Programme and even the NDE and led by the Minister of Labour and Productivity will have to explain to National Assembly on how they implement this Programme.
“On our side as National Assembly, we have passed the budget; we will support the Programme because our constituents will be the beneficiaries.
“What the National Assembly is insisting on is in the national and public interest, for us to know what is going on because we passed the N52 billion and somebody should explain to us how the process of selecting the steering selection committee was done; who were the stakeholders, how were they identified and nominated. This is a program that Nigerians must benefit, and we are representing Nigerians.
“NDE was what National Assembly approved. NDE has undertaken such Programme before successfully and there is no need for any one to take away this responsibility because that is a law and we have passed it; it is NDE and not the Ministry’s headquarters”.