National Assembly, yesterday asked the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, to hands off from the planned recruitment of 774, 000 youths for unskilled jobs by the federal government across the country.
This is even as the federal legislature maintained that the N52billion appropriated for the Special Public Works, SPW programme for 1,000 youth in each of the 774 local government councils of the country must be implemented by the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, as contained in the N10.8trillion revised 2020 budget.
Reacting to last week’s face off between Keyamo and members of the National Assembly joint Committee on Labour over modalities for implementation of the project, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan said that the minister is not capable of causing rift between the legislature and President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that the legislature and executive are on the same page on various development-driven national projects.
Lawan, who spoke during an interactive session with the Senate correspondents in Abuja, however, insisted that the programme remained suspended until detailed explanations on modalities for its implementation are gotten from the executive.
He said: “Only one person defines the executive arm of government. Any other person there aside the Vice President, is either recruited or appointed to support that one person.
“That one person is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So if somebody, an employee or an appointee, out of several others, does something that does not show harmony, it will be unfair and uncharitable to say that the executive arm of government is not on the same page with us.
“But let me tell you also here that the National Assembly consciously and patriotically passed the request of the executive for N52billion to undertake the programme on Public Works across the country, where 1,000 youths particularly will be employed in every single local government and that will give you 774,000 people to be employed.
“That was the approval by the National Assembly in the approved budget request of Mr. President. When the National Assembly was to pass the request, the National Assembly was conscious through scrutiny that NDE (National Directorate of Employment) will be the agency to implement the programme and we approved that because we know NDE has the capacity to implement the programme.
“So, that programme is an NDE programme approved by the National Assembly worth N52billion. Secondly, it is within the purview of our committees to demand an explanation on the process and procedure through which this programme will be implemented. So, our joint committee was right. The committee was right to ask the questions.
“We are meant to interrogate the processes through which such programmes will be implemented. Thirdly, the committee’s resolve that the programme should be suspended until such explanations are provided on how this programme will be implemented. We stand by that.
“Our purpose is not just to approve money…We insist that only NDE will implement this programme and even the NDE led by the Minister of Employment and Productivity will have to come and explain to the National Assembly committees how they will implement the programme.
“For us, we have passed the budget, we have approved it, we are going to support the programme because our constituents will be the beneficiaries and if we didn’t like the programme we would not have passed it.
“So, it would be unfair to say that the executive and us in the legislature are not on the same page because of an action by someone out there or among the executive.
“I want the press to understand that what the National Assembly is insisting on is in the national and public interest. It is in the national interest that we know what is going on because we passed the N52billion and somebody should explain to us how the processes of selecting the States Selection Committee is, who are the stakeholders, how are they identified and nominated.
“How are the 1,000 beneficiaries from each local government going to be selected, how do we measure the success of the programme, how do we key in to support the executive arm of government to succeed in that respect.
“So, there is nothing that this is an indication that the executive and the legislature are not on the same page. But this is a programme that Nigerians must benefit and we are representatives of Nigerians, we want complete understanding of how this programme is going to be implemented.”
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