OrderPaperToday – An advocacy group, the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has commended the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Mr. Festus Keyamo, for standing up against members of the National Assembly over the implementation of the 774,000 Public Works job scheme.

During an interactive session on Monday, Keyamo traded words with members of the joint committees on Labour and Productivity in both Federal chambers after they requested modalities on the selection of the 20 man Committee for the implementation of the programme.

They equally questioned the Minister for embarking on the programme without the consultation from federal lawmakers while Keyamo alleged they wanted to hijack slots for themselves.

The lawmakers argued that they ought to be carried along being representatives of the people.

Keyamo in another submission further threatened to leave his job rather than succumb and instructed the committee to begin implementation of the programme but the federal parliament directed it’s suspension pending a “proper briefing” from the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige.

Reacting to this, CHRICED in a press statement on Thursday through its Executive Director, Dr. Zikirullahi Ibrahim, commended Keyamo for “standing up for the ordinary citizens of this country.”

The group also called on the Federal Government to adopt a more sustainable approach to achieve the goal of eradicating unemployment.

The statement reads: “For too long, many of the failed politicians in the National Assembly who are unable to effectively represent their constituencies have made it their birth right to hijack the few opportunities created through government run employment programmes.

“Despite the apparent corruption in their discredited methods, many members of the National Assembly insist on getting slots for employment in government agencies or whenever empowerment schemes are being designed. They then distribute these slots to friends, cronies and political hangers on, while short-changing the ordinary people who have no political connections.

“This corruption-prone approach, driven by the urge to compensate godfathers, friends and political cronies, results in the distortion of the objectives of such government employment and empowerment schemes.

“Limiting opportunities to only those who know, pledge political allegiance or have connections to federal lawmakers, is unjust, unfair and creates grievances, which would in turn fuel political violence. It is also disheartening that apart from appropriating a huge chunk of national resources as annual budget for themselves, members of the National Assembly would stop at nothing to grab opportunities meant for ordinary citizens.

“By courageously standing up to members of the National Assembly, who in effect tried to intimidate him to cede control of the programme to them, Keyamo deserves commendation and support of all well-meaning Nigerians. Principled public servants like Festus Keyamo are the kind of people we need in government. Nigeria desperately needs public servants who will not roll over at the slightest pressure, but those who have conviction and are willing to defy the odds to advance the ideals of justice, equity and fairness.

“By insisting that all Nigerians, irrespective of partisan affiliation should be given equal opportunity to apply for the jobs, Keyamo has effectively challenged the rotten status quo built on nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism. And by firing a warning that he is willing to leave the position than engage in shady deals, which would short-change the ordinary Nigerian, the Hon. Minister has blazed a trail, which many other government officials should follow.”

It continued: “CHRICED is of the view that if we have a few more strong and principled officials like the Minister of State, the policies and programmes of government will have a better effect on long suffering citizens at the grassroots.

“In the end, one of the key lessons all Nigerians should learn has to do with electing credible, principled and compassionate leaders, who would care about all citizens irrespective of partisan, sectarian or primordial consideration. It is trite fact that a significant number of the so-called lawmakers in the National Assembly are there to represent their stomachs, their godfathers and friends.

“As such they have no iota of empathy for the ordinary citizen suffocating under the burden of bad governance, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic. Part of their anger against Keyamo stems from the effort made by the Minister to remind these legislators that the country does not belong to them alone. Citizens also have a responsibility to support the likes of Keyamo in this daunting task of speaking the truth to corrupt power.”

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