Tuesday, June 30, 2020 11:49 pm
Despite the order for its suspension by the National Assembly Joint Committees on Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment has said Federal Government’s Expanded Special Public Works Programme for the recruitment of 774,000 unskilled workers must go on.
The Minister who said this in a statement on Tuesday evening said the National Assembly has no power to suspend the programme approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He added that that the powers of the National Assembly and its committees under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution was only limited to investigations, and not to give any directive to the executive.
Keyamo therefore, directed the States’ Section Committee on the Expanded Special Public Works Programme for the recruitment of 774,000 unskilled workers to proceed on their work unhindered.
He said, “All my life, I have fought for good governance and constitutional democracy. I will not come into government and be intimidated to abandon those principles.
“I will rather leave this assignment, if Mr. President so directs than compromise the jobs meant for ordinary Nigerians, who have no Godfathers or who are not affiliated to any political party.
“I regret to say that their powers under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution is only limited to investigations, but not to give directive to the Executive,” he said.
He also noted that the allegation on the purported suspension by the Joint Committees on Labour was tantamount to challenging the powers of Mr President.
“The National Assembly Committees do not even have powers to pass binding Resolutions, they can only make recommendations to Plenary.
“In this case, even Plenary cannot give directives to the Executive,” he said.
The minister, however, denied the allegation that he walked out during the meeting with the Joint Committees on Labour of both the Senate and the House.
According to him, today, in obedience to their invitation, I appeared before the Joint Committees on Labour of both the Senate and the House that sought to be briefed on the implementation of the Special Public Works Programme so far.
“However, there was a misunderstanding between us when they questioned why I did not privately submit the programme to them for vetting before taking certain steps.
“They suggested that they ought to have an input on how the programme should be implemented. In other words, they sought to control the programme as to who gets what, where and how.
“However, I insisted that I could not surrender the programme to their control since their powers under the constitution does not extend to that. They insisted on a closed door session.
“At this point, I remarked that it was only fair for me to respond to their position before the press, since their own position was also made public.
“In any case, I remarked that the Nigerian people deserve to know the details of the execution of this all-important programme.
“I was then asked to apologize for insisting on a public interaction and I said there was nothing to apologize about, because their powers to expose corruption provided for in section 88 of the Constitution cannot be exercised in private.
“As such, there was no need to apologize by insisting on a Constitutional provision. Even their Rules that may provide for private hearings on public matters cannot override the provisions of the Constitution. I was then permitted to leave. I took a bow and left,” Keyamo said.
He added that he never walked out on the respected Committees as they may want to bend the narrative.
The minister further directed all the Committees set up nationwide made up of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Market Women,Youth Organisations, traditional rulers, among others to proceed with their work unhindered. (NAN)