The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has described the controversy surrounding the planned employment of 774,000 Nigerians as an attempt by the National Assembly to bypass him in the implementation of the project.
He said this shortly after the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, apologised to the National Assembly joint committee on Labour following a clash between lawmakers and Keyamo over the planned recruitment.
Fifty-two billion naira has been allocated for the Special Public Works Programme in the 2020 budget. It is aimed at employing 774,000 citizens, a thousand from each of the 774 local government areas in the country.
Keyamo accused the lawmakers of wanting to sabotage the recruitment process despite receiving 15 per cent jobs slots.
The National Directorate of Employment (NDE), according to the lawmakers, is meant to implement the recruitment under a special works programme.
They had accused Keyamo of hijacking the programme from the NDE. The minister hit back, saying they were the ones trying to take over the project.
The committee later demanded that the programme be suspended until the modalities for the exercise have been explained to the lawmakers.
It also mandated its Committees on Labour and Employment to invite Ngige and other relevant officials of the ministry to brief the joint committee on the modalities for the implementation of the programme.
Ngige appeared before members of the committee and the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, at the National Assembly on Tuesday and tendered an apology.
However, addressing journalists after the meeting, Keyamo said the programme cannot be implemented without his approval according to the NDE Act.
“First of all, may I say that this distinguished National Assembly, I believe that they are the lawmakers and they desire to comply strictly with the provisions of the law. Now it is important that all of you read the National Directorate of Employment Act. You can see that the whole struggle today has been how to bypass me in the execution of this programme and I’m sure that you all saw that,” he said.