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NASS: Rowdy session as Lawmakers, Keyamo trade words over 774,000 NDE employment slots

There was rowdy session in the National Assembly on Tuesday when the Minister of state for Labour, Employment and Productivity,  Festus Keyamo, and lawmakers openly traded words over 774,000 employment slots by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE)’s recruitment exercise.
Disagreement erupted when the Director General of the NDE, Nasiru Ladan Argungu, could not defend the N52bn  budgeted for the recruitments of 774,000 Nigerians under the agency.
Keyamo had appeared before the National Assembly joint committee on labour and employment.
The lawmakers – members of the joint committee, said they could not understand how the Minister arrived at selection of 20 persons per state to coordinate the public work committee on the NDE employment.
But the minister who failed to proffer adequate explanations however, boasted that the lawmakers lack powers to question the constitution of the committee.
Trouble started when the Director-General of the NDE, Argungu said he only have knowledge of the constitution of eight, out of the twenty member committee.
According to him, the remaining twelve members of the committee was solely enhanced by the minister, Keyamo.
This confused the lawmakers who threw decorum in the wind, and accused the minister of shady deal.
But Keyamo insisted that his ministry was asked to supervise the recruitments by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
However, the lawmakers disagreed with Keyamo and asked him to expatiate on  the modalities he employed to carry out the recruitment process, especially the constitution of the 20 member committee per state.
Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Godiya Akwashiki further ruled that the meeting be moved into a closed session,without journalists.
But Keyamo vehemently resisted, and insisted that journalists must cover the session.
This is where the lawmakers got angry and unanimously alleged that Kayamo was attempting to bend their rules, in order to dictate the proceedings.
The lawmakers asked Keyamo to apologize for the action but he openly refused.
Keyamo’s refusal to apologise led to another round of hot exchange of words. The rowdiness lasted for about an hour.
Angrily, Keyamo walked out of the joint committee. In an interview, he told journalists that the lawmakers were intimidating him because he refused to allow them hijack the employment process.
His words: “The background  to this  was that  a couple of days ago, they  (lawmakers)started  mounting  pressure  on me that  I must  bring  the list  of those  to select  the 1,000 persons from all the local  government  for  them to direct  me on what  to do.
“The Chairman  insisted  that  I must  come  to them  privately  for them to hand over to me certain  instructions  as to how  this  programme  will be done  across  the country, I said  no, that  will be sharing  the powers  of the President.
“I can only  be answerable  for what  I have done  by virtue  of the constitution. I am not  questioning  their  powers to investigate.
“I fully  agree  to the powers  of the National  Assembly  to investigate  for  the purpose  of exposing  corruption and that  is the point  I made  that  they  said  I should  apologize  for  saying  we should  not  allow  the cameras to go out.
Keyamo continued: “I am answerable  to the Nigerian people and  they  are  also  answerable  to Nigerian people, I did  not  see the need for  an executive  session. In a matter  like  this involving 774,000 Nigerians,  the press must  know  what  is going  on, you  can  not   accuse  me  publicly  of a lopsided  issue  and close  the door.
“This  is the point  I made, that  I want  to say  what I want  to say  in the cameras. I did  not insult  them, I did  not  use  any derogatory words,  I only  insisted that  we should  do this  publicly for  Nigerians to see the root  of the matter.
“And  the root of the matter,  Nigerians, is that  they  want  me to bring  the entire  programme  to the committees, for  them  to direct  as to how  it will be executed. And that  is not  their  powers,they  don’t have such  powers to direct me,  they  can  only  investigate  what  we have done,” he stated.
In a swift reaction,  the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Godiya Akwashiki, while addressing newsmen denied the allegations levelled against them by Keyamo.
“We invited  them to brief  us  on special  works  under  NDE, and the 8 pilot  states selected by Mr President. They  said  they  have  done  six  states  and it was remaining  two  states.
“N52 billion  approved  under  NDE, on how  far they  have  gone because  we read  in the newspapers  that a committee  of 20 persons  had  been constituted  across  the state to execute  the social  workers programme  under  NDE and we disagreed   with  him on how he selected  the 20 persons.
“The NDE Director was only  privy  to the selection  of 8 persons  in the committee, so the Director  General  of NDE is not  aware  of the other  12 persons  selected and this is best  known  to the minister., so there  is no justice on the selection. Our main aim is to check  the executive.”
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