OrderPaperToday – Ahead of his second appearance at the National Assembly, Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, has insisted that he would make presentations in public before the lawmakers.
In his previous appearance, he had an altercation on the modalities regarding the recruitment of beneficiaries and selection committee resulting to a directive from the National Assembly to suspend the programme. He was walked out of the meeting hwne he strongly resisted a closed door session ordered by the legislators.
In a letter released on Monday addressed to the joint committee of the National Assembly on Labour, Employment and Productivity, the minister said the Special Public Works Programme is also expected to provide stipends for 774,000 workers who will undertake roads rehabilitation and social housing construction, urban and rural sanitation, health extension and other critical services.
On the bases for his nomination to supervise the programme which has been contentious, he cited several official memos indicating that he spearheads the programme.
He said: “By a memo Ref: CAO.143/S.1/T11/8 dated October 18, 2019, and forwarded to all Government functionaries by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, I was mandated by Mr. President to oversee all the activities of the National Directorate of Employment.
(1b).In addition to the above, by a letter, Ref: SH/COS/14/A/1217 dated 6 May, 2020, Mr. President, once again, approved that I supervise the preparation and execution of the Special Public Works Programme domiciled under the N.D.E.
”In addition to the above, Section 6(2) of the National Directorate of Employment Act states that, ‘The Director-General shall, subject to this Act, be the Chief Executive of the Directorate and shall be responsible to the Minister for the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Directorate.”
He further stated that based on an inter-ministerial steering meeting with some Ministers, the following mandates were resolved: “Strategize on the implementation framework, Collate the respective rural programmes for each ministry that can be implemented under the Extended Special Public Works
“Review the implementation of the Pilot Programme and make necessary recommendations, Recommend appropriate implementation structure, Recommend appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and Develop an achievable implementation timeline.”
Also, from this, he inaugurated a Special Inter-ministerial Committee on the Extended Special Public Works on Wednesday, 29th April, 2020 and appointed the Director-General, NDE to Chair the Committee. Members of the Committee included Directors representing the seven Ministries.
Then, this Committee proposed a list of projects 3,000 projects that require the intervention of the Extended Special Public Works Programme, 42,000 Manpower and recommended a 20-member States’ Selection Committee accepted by Keyamo.
On the 20 member states’ selection committee, Keyamo said he laid out the composition of the 20-member States’ Selection Committee pursuant to the powers of the Minister under Section 16(1) of the NDE Act as follows: “A Chairman and Vice-Chairman who shall be indigenes of that State or who are ordinarily resident in that State, the State Co-ordinator of the N.D.E of that State who will be the Secretary, One representative of the Governor of that State, The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria of that State or his representative/nominee, The State Chairman of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs or his representative/nominee.
“The State Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers or his representative/nominee, the market woman leader in that State, three persons (one from each Senatorial District) representing the traditional institutions in that State, two persons (one male and one female) from each of the Senatorial District of the State (that is six persons) representing recognized youth organisations in those States, a representative of a prominent Civil Society Organisation of that State and two persons representing some peculiar interests in those States.”
The Minister also informed that all members of the State Selection Committees are not persons holding any official position in any of the registered political parties.
He debunked a claim made by Hon. Muhammad Wudil that the 20 members of the Committees would be a waste of national resources as there is no provision made for them to be paid any kind of personal allowance.
“The only provision made in the budget is for Five Hundred Thousand Naira per State to cover the logistics of the entire Committee which would be used to move around the States, collate the names, buy stationeries and compile the names in printed form in all the Local Government Areas to forward to us in Abuja.”
For him, the National Assembly cannot question the discretion of the Minister to establish these Committees.
He explained: “Once a person who is given discretionary powers by law exercises that discretion in a particular way, it is impossible to question the exercise of that discretion if it is done within the confines of the law.
“An example is the power of the President to appoint at least one Minister from each State. As long as the President does not go outside a particular State to pick a Minister for that State, nobody can question his discretion in picking a particular person as Minister from that State.
“Therefore, even Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution cannot avail the Joint Committee the power to question the discretion of the Minister to constitute Committees for the NDE under Section 16(1) of the NDE Act.”
On the reasons why the states’ selection committees choose online application, he gave the following reasons: “the categories of those to be engaged (which are largely unskilled workers) will not have the capacity and access to make online applications.
“Online applications would not ensure that the 1,000 persons to be selected would come from each Local Government Areas as, for example 300 persons may apply online from Lagos State, claiming to be applying to work in Sokoto State.
“The selection process would be localized and would absolve us in Abuja the responsibility of selecting persons from different States.
Regarding slots to political office holders, Keyamo stated that they cannot be sidelined from the selection process but will resist “a total takeover of the programme” noting that 15 percent was allowed to them.
He also informed that the programme will start on the 1st of October, 2020 with a total of N52 billion appropriated for it.
The Minister is expected to meet with the federal lawmakers the second time today and requested that the session be done publicly.