Minister of State For Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has dared the Joint Committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Labour over the lawmakers alleged suspension of the Selection Committee for the Special Public Works aimed to provide 774,000 jobs across the 774 local governments areas in the country.
Kayemo in a statement on Tuesday told the lawmakers that they don’t have power to suspend the Selection process even as urged all states selection committees to proceed with their work unhindered, stressing only the President can stop them.
The Minister, who had accused politicians of trying to hijacked the process and perhaps deny ordinary Nigerians of the job opportunities, was said to have engaged the lawmakers in a ‘war’ of words after he was invited to brief them on Tuesday on the implementation of the programme nationwide so far.
Keyamo, who denied working out on the lawmakers, said there was a misunderstanding between him and the lawmakers when they questioned why he did not privately submit the programme to them for vetting before taking certain steps. He added that the lawmakers 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.
H said:“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.”
The Minister noted that he was asked to apologize for insisting on a public interaction to which he refused adding that there was nothing to apologize about, because the powers of the lawmakers to expose corruption provided for in section 88 of the Constitution cannot be exercised in private.
He said that even the National Assembly Rules that may provide for private hearings on public matters cannot override the provisions of the Constitution.
“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.
“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,” the Minister said.