OrderPaperToday – Despite the directive from the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo for the implementation of the 774,000 Public Works, the National Assembly has insisted on the suspension of the programme.
This is as the Committee on Labour and Productivity of both chambers resolved to invite the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige for a “proper briefing.”
Recall that Keyamo traded words with members of the joint committees on Labour and Productivity on Tuesday over their involvement with the programme particularly the selection of the 20-man committee without consultation with federal lawmakers.
The Minister further threatened to leave his job rather than succumb to pressure after alleging that the lawmakers approached him for slots, a claim that was swiftly denied by the Chairman Senate Committee on labour and productivity, Godiya Akwashiki.
In a joint statement signed by the Spokesmen of the two chambers, Senator (Dr.) Ajibola Basiru and Hon. Benjamin O. Kalu on Wednesday, they resolved to be intimated on the modalities of the programme particularly as they approved the appropriated funds.
The statement reads: “The National Assembly is concerned about the proper and effective implementation of the engagement of 774,000 Public Works Workers and wishes to restate its commitment to its success.
“Accordingly, the National Assembly reminds members of the public that the Legislature was part of the conception of the programme, approved it and appropriated funds for its implementation as part of the COVID 19 response strategy.
“The National Assembly, in line with its constitutional oversight function, has mandated its Committees on Labour and Productivity to immediately invite the Hon. Minister for Labour and Productivity and any other relevant officials of the Ministry to appear before the joint committee to brief it on the modality for the implementation of the engagement of 774,000 persons for public works.
“In accordance with the constitutional imperative of oversight, the Legislature being important stakeholders in the democratic process, and elected representatives of the people, needed to be appraised of modalities for implementation for effective feedback to our constituents and in ensuring that our constituents optimally participate in and benefit from the process.
“In view of the foregoing, the implementation of the programme shall be on hold pending proper briefing of the National Assembly by the Minister of Labour and Productivity.
“The National Assembly will ensure transparency of the process just as done with the National Social Register by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and social Development.”
Similarly, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan while reacting to a motion moved by Senators Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra) celebrating International Day of Parliamentarism, noted that expenditures of the Executive are means to be tracked by the Legislature.
“We should continue to do that, and in the process of oversight, we must be mindful of the fact that this one fundamental function of the legislature that we cannot afford to take very lightly. This is to ensure that if we approve any funds, especially the annual budget and indeed any supplementary budget, we must follow through.
“We must track how expenditures are made, and the efficiency and prudence with which the projects are achieved.
“We have a challenge, we need to continue to educate and enlighten our citizens to know exactly what our functions are. The legislature is, without any argument, the most misunderstood arm of government that people vote for.
“It is our responsibility as a parliament to continue to enlighten the people that we represent on what is expected of us”, Lawan said.
The President of the red chamber also described the federal parliament as the most misunderstood arm of government.
“Here in Nigeria, like indeed anywhere else, democracy is largely defined by the presence of parliament, and parliamentarians are expected to undertake those three fundamental pillars of their mandate, that is representation, oversight and ensuring that we always legislate on good governance”, he added.