Ministerial Screening: 2020 Clash With Senators Over N52bn NDE Scheme Affects Keyamo's Chances 

Ministerial Screening: 2020 Clash With Senators Over N52bn NDE Scheme Affects Keyamo’s Chances 

11 months ago
1 min read

The Nigerian Senate on Monday witnessed a rowdy session during the screening of a ministerial nominee, Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Keyamo, a former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, appeared before the Senate on Monday afternoon to be screened for a ministerial portfolio in Bola Tinubu’s cabinet.

After Keyamo’s introduction and remarks about his roles in the past, the upper chamber went rowdy when the Deputy  Minority Leader, Senator Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia  Central), moved a motion for the suspension of the screening of Keyamo.

Nwokocha raised a point of order over how Keyamo treated the Senate in 2020 in the matter regarding the Special Public Works Scheme set up by the Federal Government for the employment of 1,000 Nigerians in every local government area in the country.

According to the Deputy Minority Leader, Keyamo had accused the National Assembly of corruption and wanting to hijack the process of disbursement of N52 billion for the scheme.

He further said that Keyamo shunned the invitation of the Senate during the last administration to explain the Special Public Works programme, adding that it was the constitutional right of the National Assembly to exercise oversight on any matter.

After citing section 88 of the 1999 constitution which says that each House of the National Assembly has the power to investigate (a) any matter in respect of which it has the power to make laws; and (b) the conduct of any parastatal or official responsible for administering any Act of the National Assembly or in charge of disbursing funds, Nwokocha accused Keyamo of disrespecting the Senate and moved a motion for the screening to be stepped down.

The motion was seconded by his fellow lawmaker from Abia-South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

The development split members of the Senate when the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, called for a voice vote on the matter.

Visibly worried by the turn of events, the Akpabio refused the call by the senators for a division. A division means each Senator voting individually. This in parliamentary terms means lawmakers physically take sides with any of the votes either in favour of Yay or Nay, which has an implication on the powers of the Senate President.

The Senate Majority Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) called for a closed-door session and was seconded by the Minority  Leader, Senator Simon Nwadkwon (PDP, Plateau).

The Special Public Works Programme (SPW) which was coordinated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and directly under the ministry Keyamo supervised, recruited 1,000 youths from each of the 774 local governments making a total of 774,000. They were paid N20,000 each for three months.

The lawmakers were said to be dissatisfied with the composition of a 20-man committee inaugurated by the Ministry of Labour for the Special Public Works Programme and also the disbursement of the N52 billion for the scheme.

 


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