As Reps C’mtte queries Statistician-General over recruitment data
Demands details of all food vendors for school feeding programme nationwide
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured that the face-off between the federal government and the National Assembly (NASS) over the recruitment of 774,000 youths for public works will be resolved within 24 hours.
This came as the Committee on Public Account chaired by Hon. Wole Oke has demanded from the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, the data being used to ascertain the beneficiaries of the programme since its inception by the present administration.
It will be recalled that the Minister for State of Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo had a shouting match with some senators investigating the process during a committee meeting on Monday.
A joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Labour had invited Keyamo to give details of the Special Public Works Programme where 774,000 unemployed youths would be recruited by the Federal Government under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
The Committee had sought to know the method of selection of a 20-man committee from each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja for the programme.
But verbal fisticuffs ensued between the lawmakers and the Minister over who should lead the programme domiciled under the NDE.
The meeting later became rowdy, necessitating a closed-door session to discuss the matter but Keyamo wouldn’t subscribe to that.
He rather preferred an open session with Journalists involved.
The insistence annoyed lawmakers who told Keyamo to apologise to the committee, but again, the Minister wouldn’t.
He was thereafter asked to leave the meeting since he refused to apologise to Parliament for his action.
However making an unscheduled appearance before the Public Accounts Committee during its session with Dr Yale, Gbajabiamila said the matter will be amicably resolved.
He said: “I’m only here to observe proceedings and nothing more so just carry on and forget about my presence. As you all know, the Committee on Public Accounts is the only committee recognised by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, so you are all welcome. But again, we have to make sure that what happened yesterday (Monday) in the Senate does not repeat here.
“It is unfortunate that the National Assembly is not allowed to operate as it should. However, I want to assure you that the matter will be resolved within the next 24 hours.”
Continuing with its proceedings, the Committee commended the government for introducing the National School Feeding Programme in the nation’s public Primary schools
The Committee Chairman, however, said that the programme was being reviewed by the Parliament to prevent mismanagement by the operators.
“The Parliament is commending the President for the introduction of the laudable programme in the schools, but we the lawmakers are receiving its operations to ensure value for money being budgeted it, we don’t want the programme to be mismanaged.”
Consequently, the Committee directed the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, to provide the headcount of pupils and other beneficiaries of the National Food Programme the precursor to the school feeding programme of the federal government
The House Committee also demanded proper pre-qualification details of all the food vendors for the school feeding programme in accordance with the Public Procurement Act to safeguard the lives of the pupils and other citizens.
It queried the Statistician-General of the Federation Dr Yemi Kale on the unverifiable data used for the feeding of the pupils since inception.
The Committee also demanded that the data from the state offices of the NBS for the school feeding programme be made available to guide members in the course of the ongoing investigation
Responding, the Statistician-General assured the Committee that the Agency would do the headcount and furnish the lawmakers with the list of public and private school pupils who had benefited from the feeding programme nationwide.