Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo says the constitution empowers his office to supervise the execution of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government.
Kayamo made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen, after the Senate Committee on Labour called for a new proposal to implement the project.
The Senate Committee on Labour had in a meeting with the President of Senate Ahmad Lawan and Ministers of Labour declared that the earlier proposal on implementation of the project presented by Keyamo was null and void.
Senate at the meeting directed the Director-Generator of NDE, Dr Nasiru Mohammed to present a new proposal for implementation of the program,insisting that NDE must implement the programme and not the Ministry.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige had also at the meeting apologised to Senate on behalf of the ministry, noting that Keyamo’s position on the project was not sacrosanct.
Howevee, Keyamo said: “This distinguished National Assembly, I believe that they are the lawmakers and they desire to comply strictly with the provisions of the law.
“Now it is important that all of you and all Nigerians should go back and read NDE Act.
“You can see that the whole struggle today is how to bypass me in the execution of this programme.
“With the provision of the law I don’t know how they are going to go about that.
“I have to go back to my principal the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who gives directives.
“By provision of section 2 (3) of the NDE act I am the Chairman of the board of the NDE, so when you say NDE should go back and bring their plan.
“It will come back to me because I am still the Chairman of the NDE
“Secondly if you look at section 15 of the NDE Act, the minister may give directive of a general nature to the NDE, in order words you cannot even do a work plan without coming back to the minister.
“The third point is that by virtue of my appointment as minister, the President gave a directive in October 2019 that I should go and supervise generally the activities of the NDE .
“So I have quoted the position of the law and the presidential mandate,
The fourth one is that beyond the general mandate, the president specifically instructed me by memo in May for me to go and supervise the preparation and execution of this project.
“The last and the most important is that, go back and read section 16(1) of the NDE Act, by the instruction of the Presidency an inter ministerial committee has already proposed that local committee must drive this selection process.
“We can not stay here in Abuja and select 1000 persons per each local Government.
” So if you look at section 15(1) it said the minister shall constitute committees for the NDE.
“The director general of NDE has no such powers to constitute committees by law.
“So when you say go back and do your work plan and come, are you telling the director general to break the law, are you telling the director general to disobey his appointee which is the President?
” Are you telling the Director-General to disobey his immediate boss which is the minister?
“That is where we are on this issue. So I will go back to my employer which is the President. The president will give directives.”
He said the directives by the National Assembly as to execution of the project was not binding on him.
“This is a great constitutional issue that will go to the Attorney-General at the end of the day for interpretation.
“Just like I said, if the Presidency says I should step aside and allow them hijack the process because the game as you have seen today is simply that they are conniving with certain functionary of Government to design the program, hijack the programme against the wishes of Nigerians and that is what I have being against .
“And I will continue to stand by that,they are very distinguished members, the law is the law, our constitution is the constitution. ”
The Director-General of NDE Dr Nasiru Ladan also in an interview with newsmen said :“as far as we are concerned, the jobs is sole responsibility of the NDE, from the planning, process, to the execution.
“The N52 bilion appropriated by National Assembly is in NDE, and by powers given to us by National Assembly, I, Dr Nasiru Mohammed Director General of NDE owe a pirority to the programme.”
He said the the 20 man state selection committee earlier constituted to drive the selection of the 774,000 potential beneficiaries of the jobs stands null and void.