774,000 Jobs: Ifeanyi Ubah says Keyamo displayed rascality as NASS puts exercise on hold

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah says minister of state for labour and employment, Festus Keyamo, displayed “rascality” when he appeared before a joint committee of the national assembly on Tuesday.

Keyamo had engaged in a shouting match with some senators and house of representatives members while responding to some questions about the recruitment of 774,000 citizens.

The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is implementing the recruitment exercise under a special works programme.

While the lawmakers had accused Keyamo of hijacking the programme from NDE, the minister hit back, saying they were the ones trying to take over the project.

Speaking with reporters at the national assembly on Wednesday, Ubah said the lawmakers have a right to interrogate the way the beneficiaries would be engaged.

“I can speak as a member of the senate committee on media that it is not a good thing for an appointee of the executive [to behave that way]. The duty of the legislature is to checkmate and at the same time to have an oversight of the executive,” Ubah said.

“As a representative of my constituents, it is something worthwhile for us to request how the distribution of employment to Nigerians is handled by an appointee of the executive who is not even the substantive minister.

“I felt it is a very bad display of rascality. I don’t know what a senator will be doing with a job of N20,000 and N30,000, if not to make sure that it is given to people in the constituency. If those jobs are given to us it will be shared equally or percentage of it should be given to senators, we will take it back to the people we are representing.

“But giving it to people who will go and mortgage it and sell it or hand it to an agency that will market it is totally unacceptable to the Nigerian senate.

“I felt so bad that I was not there yesterday and I’m speaking as a senator representing Anambra south. Such rascality should be highly condemned by Nigerians.”

After Keyamo left the national assembly, the lawmakers directed a suspension of the programme.

But Keyamo responded saying they lacked the powers to take such action. He, therefore, directed the committees he inaugurated on Monday to carry on with the recruitment exercise.

Then on wednesday the national assembly said the recruitment exercise will be on hold until explanations are given on how the beneficiaries will be engaged.

In a statement, Ajibola Basiru and Benjamin Kalu, spokesmen of the senate and house, said the lawmakers are concerned “about the proper and effective implementation of the engagement of 774,000 Public works workers.”

“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,” the statement read.

“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 spokesman said the national assembly would ensure that there is transparency in the process.

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