By Levinus Nwabughiogu
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, said the office of the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, was not known to law and, therefore, the Special Public Works Programme to empower 774,000 youths should be removed from his supervision.
The lawmakers, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, to live up to his lawful responsibility of supervising the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, ensuring non-interference and meddlesomeness by any person in running of the agency.
They said Ngige’s office was recognised by the Constitution and NDE, Act.
The House made the resolution after considering and adopting a motion sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, and Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, both from Enugu State, at Tuesday’s plenary.
Adopting the motion, the House advocated that for transparency and scrutiny, the programme should be removed from the supervision of the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, saying his portfolio was not known to law.
Okechukwu submitted that “Section 2 of the NDE Act unambiguously vests in the agency the responsibility to, among other key aims and objectives, design and implement programmes to combat mass unemployment.
“The Appropriation Act 2020, a valid law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is clear that the NDE is the implementing agency for the Special Public Works, SPW, programme and captured it as follows:
“Public Works Programme:1,000 persons per LGA for 36 states and area councils of FCT —774,000 persons, for the sum of N52,000,000,000.”
The lawmaker further said that since the Executive proposed the programme, it could have clearly named the Ministry of Labour and not the NDE, as the implementing authority in the 2020 budget if it so wished.
He said: “The NDE, being a creation of the law, has been in operation for about 23 years and has the professionals and requisite technical staff to implement government policies, including the Special Public Works Programme.
“An initiative on which it has conducted a pilot study in eight states of the Federation. Hence, the programme is domiciled with the agency.”
He said the House was mindful of the high economic consequences for the country to resort to ad hoc arrangements, fearing that such measure may not be accountable in the future.
The House rather preferred the use of NDE as an interventionist agency created by law.
The motion got the overwhelming support of the members when eventually put to voice vote by the Presiding Officer of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Recall that the programme was conceived by the Federal Government to engage 774,000 youths; 1,000 from each of the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in gainful ventures.