By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – It was a theatre of the Absurd at the National Assembly Tuesday as the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, exchanged hot words with Senators and members of House of Representatives over the National Directorate of Employment recruitment exercise.
It was first an interactive session between the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo and the Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Labour.
However, the meeting ended dramatically as the Minister engaged lawmakers in a shouting bout.
Trouble started when the National Assembly Committee requested that the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nasiru Ladan speak on the composition of a 20 man Committee inaugurated on Monday by the Ministry for the implementation of the planned employment of Nigerians in the Special Public Works Programme 2020
There was also quagmire when Ladan could not defend the N52bn budgeted for the recruitments of 774,000 Nigerians under the NDE.
The lawmakers were however not satisfied with Ladan’s explanation which to them showed that he was not in control of the programme.
Meanwhile, halfway into his explanation and after disclosing that he was aware of only 8 members of the committee, Ladan then referred the lawmakers to seek further clarification from the Minister.
The National Assembly had in the 2020 budget appropriated the sum of N52 billion for the Special Public Works Programme for the employment of 774,000 citizens, a thousand from each of the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.
At this point, Keyamo said that his ministry was asked to supervise the recruitments by President Muhammadu Buhari.
When the federal lawmaker disagreed with Keyamo, the shouting spree ensued.
At this point, Keyamo snapped; violently hitting at the table almost immediately the lawmakers threw the question, accusing him of hi-jacking the programme from the NDE and alleging acute lopsidedness in the entire programme.
The drama then intensified when the lawmakers asked that the cameras should excuse them for an executive session with the Minister.
Keyamo rejected the cover; insisting that having been openly accused and disgraced, the cameras should remain in the room, just as his outburst infuriated the lawmakers who asked that he should apologise for his behaviour.
At this point, Keyamo felt he was being armed twisted by the lawmakers against the backdrop that he was denied the opportunity to respond to their allegations.
Keyamo who vehemently refused to apologize to the lawmakers stressed that he had done nothing wrong; threatening to walk out of the meeting.
The Minister’s statement further ignited trouble with the lawmakers shouting back at him to go if he wanted.
When he refused to apologize, the lawmakers reached a resolution asking Keyamo to leave.
Speaking with Journalists, Keyamo who accused the lawmakers of trying to take control of the recruitment Exercise under his ministry, said that while he was not adverse to them investigating the programme; they cannot direct him on what to do, adding that doing so will mean sharing in the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Keyamo, despite granting the lawmakers 15% of the job placement; they still want to hijack the entire programme; taking over the power of the President in the process.