OrderPaperToday – Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo has insisted on going ahead with the implementation of the Special Works Programme despite apologies made by his senior colleague in the ministry, Chris Ngige at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Keyamo also alleged that federal lawmakers are trying to bypass him on the programme and informed that he will report back to President Muhammadu Buhari who single-handedly told him to supervise the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
NDE was approved by the National Assembly to implement the recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians for the Programme but lawmakers accused Keyamo of hijacking that role for himself.
Keyamo in turn alleged that the lawmakers were trying to takeover the programme.
He was summoned to appear with Ngige at the National Assembly where the latter apologized to federal lawmakers for the altercation between them and Keyamo.
Speaking with journalists however, Keyamo maintained that the NDE act gives him the power to supervise the programme.
He said: “First of all, may I say that this distinguished national assembly, I believe that they are the lawmakers and they desire to comply strictly with the provisions of the law. Now it is important that all of you read the National Directorate of Employment act. You can see that the whole struggle today has been how to bypass me in the execution of this programme and I’m sure that you all saw that.
“Now with the provisions of the law, how they are going to do that, I don’t know, I have to go back to my principal which is the president of the federal republic of Nigeria to give directives. By section 3 of the NDE Act, I am the chairman of the board. The minister is the chairman of the board of the NDE.
“When you say go back and bring a plan, you are still coming back to me. Secondly, if you look at section 15 of the NDE Act, it said the minister may give directives of a general nature to the NDE. In other words, you cannot have a work plan without coming back to the minister.
“The third point is that by virtue of my appointment as a minister, the president gave a directive in October last year saying that I should go and supervise generally the activity of the NDE. I don’t see how you will supervise an agency and they go ahead without approval, the bulk must stop at a table.”
He continued: “The fourth one, beyond the general mandate the president gave, the president also specifically instructed me by memo in May this year for me to go and supervise the execution of this project. How can you supervise a project without your final approval. That approval lies on my table.
“Section 16(1) of the NDE Act, by instruction of the president, an inter-ministerial committee has already been proposed – which we accepted – that the committee must drive the selection process. Section 16(1) said the minister shall constitute committees for the NDE. The director-general of the NDE has no such powers to constitute committees under the law.
“So when you say go back and bring a plan, are you asking the DG to go and break the law? Are you saying the DG should disobey the president? Are you saying the DG should disobey his immediate boss which is his minister?
“I will go back to the president for directives. The directives as to execution of a project is not binding on me. The directives of the national assembly is not binding on me. This is an issue that will go to the attorney-general at the end of the day for interpretation.”