- Lawmakers Accuse Minister Of Trying To Build Political Structure Across Country With Jobs
- No, I am Not. I am being Blackmailed Over The Recruitment, Minister Fires Back
By Kolawole Ojebisi
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo(SAN) and members of the National Assembly on Tuesday engaged in a shouting match over the proposed recruitment of 774,000 people by the federal government.
In April, Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, had announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had given approval for the employment of 774,000 Nigerians.
Those recruited would be engaged in a special works programme to be statutorily subsumed under the Directorate of Employment (NDE).
On Tuesday, Keyamo appeared before a joint committee of the senate and house of representatives on labour alongside Nasiru Ladan, NDE director-general. The duo were asked to explain modalities adopted in appointing a 20-member committee for the implementation of the programme.
Keyamo said the Director-Geberator of the NDE, Mr Ladan, is a member of the committee but when asked to defend himself, the NDE boss said the minister was in a better position to answer all questions relating to recruitment exercise and the budgeted money.
Trouble started when Mr Ladan could not defend the N52 billion budgeted for the recruitment of N774,000 Nigerians under the NDE.
The DG of the NDE also said he only knew eight members of the committee. The lawmakers then turned to Keyamo and asked a series of questions, suggesting that he had taken over the programme from the NDE.
At this point, the tension in the room escalated and the proceedings became rowdy with Keyamo and some lawmakers shouting on the top of their voices.
The lawmakers then opted for a closed-session, but Keyamo disagreed insisting that journalists must witness the proceeding.
The legislators accused Keyamo of trying to dictate proceedings to them and demanded apology. While shouting, Keyamo fired back, saying: “How can you expose corruption without the cameras? How can, how can you expose it? I must respond to what he said. You cannot say something and I won’t respond. It is wrong.”
Then some of the lawmakers responding altogether in chorus, said: “Go go, get out. Where is the sergeant-at-arms to walk him?”
He was subsequently ordered out of the hearing room. Speaking with journalists outside the hearing room, Keyamo alleged that the lawmakers were trying to take charge of the recruitment exercise which his ministry supervises.
But in a swift reaction, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr Godiya Akwashiki, denied allegations levelled against them by Keyamo.
He accused Keyamo of allegedly trying to build a political structure of 1,000 youth in each of the 774 Local Government Areas across the country with the 774,000 jobs.
Recall that in May, Keyamo said up to 10 percent slots of the beneficiaries of the programme in each state would be allotted to political office holders “like our distinguished senators, honourable members, ministers and governors”.
But on Monday while inaugurating the committee, the minister said some politicians are trying to blackmail him over the recruitment.