Lawan insists on NDE handling recruitment
The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige yesterday apologised over the altercations between Festus Keyamo (SAN) and members of National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour over the 774, 000 Special Public Works recruitment scheme of the Federal Government.
Keyamo is the minister of state for Labour, Employment and Productivity.
Ngige tendered the apology at a meeting with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and members of the joint committee.
“We deeply regret the incident that happened at the last visit, the altercations that followed it between my minister of state and members of the joint committee.
“Therefore, we decided that as a team, we would come in force and give you the necessary information that you will need so that we can speed up this programme.
“My minister of state has put out a position paper, nothing is sacrosanct there. We can still discuss and agree after disagreeing. Therefore, Mr. Senate President, I apologise on behalf of the ministry for what took place the last time and I hope that this apology will be taken by the members of the committee and the entire National Assembly because I know that a committee is a representative of the whole.
“I, therefore, request that we forgive and forget. Let this turn a new page and start off on this programme.”
In his remarks, Lawan said the National Assembly had the mandate and jurisdiction to accept or reject the executive request.
“When Mr. President presented the request for the appropriation of N52 billion for the public works, the National Assembly committees scrutinised it and recommended to the plenary of the two chambers the passage. We did that, feeling convinced that this is one programme that is needed in this country, especially at this time.
“Our people need some kind of support especially the youth. So this is one programme we can even own in the National Assembly. How we wished we have more than N52 billion for this programme. But we are also conscious of one thing, who should implement the programme.”
Lawan said that the ministry should have no role more than supervising the programme.
“And if the ministry goes ahead, that means it will be breaking the law because the budget is a law. We are not going to allow the ministry headquarters to implement this programme at all. This National Assembly can support you very well but it can stand tough if its will is tested.
“We want our committees to work with your ministry to implement this programme. All previous actions are null and void. We don’t recognise them. You and our committee should engage and start afresh,” Lawan said.
The senate president insisted that the programme remained under the purview of National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and that the work of the labour ministry is only to supervise the implementation.
Hours after Ngige, as substantive labour minister tendered the apology, Keyamo who is at the centre of the crisis, kicked against it, vowing to continue driving the implementation of the project as against the National Directorate of Employment’s (NDE) approved by the National Assembly.
The embattled minister, who spoke to reporters after the meeting, insisted that the project could not be implemented without his approval.
He said he would not allow the programme to be hijacked by the lawmakers.
Keyamo had last Tuesday, engaged in a shouting match with members of the joint committees over membership of the 20-man selection panel.
Consequently, the legislature asked the presidency to halt the programme pending when the National Assembly is properly briefed on implementation modalities.
On Monday, Lawan insisted that the programme remained suspended.
The initiative was billed to start October 1 when each beneficiary will be paid N20,000 monthly to carry out public works.