Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo has made it clear to members of the National Assembly that he would not allow them to intimidate him.
“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.”
Keyamo, who was stating his own side of the altercation he had with members of the Joint Committees on Labour of both the Senate and the House of Representatives today, June 30, asked state coordinators of jobs for less privileged Nigerians in the 774 local governments of the country not to listen to the suspension of the programme.
He submitted that during the meeting, the Senators and members of the House of Representatives in the committee sought to be briefed on the implementation of the Special Public Works Programme so far.
He said that along the line, there was a misunderstanding between the two of them when they questioned why he did not privately submit the program 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. I NEVER walked out on the respected Committees as they may want to bend the narrative.
“After I left, I understand that the Joint Committees purportedly suspended the work of the Selection Committees nationwide until they decide how the programme should be run and who should be in those Committees. My opinion is that it is tantamount to challenging the powers of Mr. President.
“I regret to say that their powers under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution is only limited to investigations, but NOT TO GIVE ANY DIRECTIVE TO THE EXECUTIVE.
“A Committee or Committees of both Houses 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.”
The minister insisted and directed all the Committees set up nationwide made up of CAN, NSCIA, NURTW, Market Women, CSOS, Youth Organisations, respected traditional rulers, etc to proceed with their work unhindered, adding that it is only the President that can stop their work.