*I have instructions of my boss, Mr. President to proceed – Keyamo boasts
*Says States Selection Committees have kick started programme
*NASS leadership keeps mum
Despite rows between the Senate and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, over modalities in the employment of 774,000 Nigerian youths by the federal government, President Muhammadu Buhari has given his nod to the Minister to go ahead with the exercise.
Keyamo, who confirmed the development to newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, said he had the instructions of President Buhari to proceed unhindered, thereby ignoring the leadership of the National Assembly which had ordered a halt on the Special Public Works Progamme.
“I have the instructions of my boss, Mr. President, to proceed unhindered,” Keyamo said in a text.
It would be recalled that the federal lawmakers had been at loggerheads with the Minister whom they said did not seek their inputs before putting together members of the 20-man States Selection Committees inaugurated in June this year.
They also accused Keyamo of trying to hijack the scheme from the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, which is constitutionally empowered to implement such project.
But Keyamo, who appeared before members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour on June 30, rather accused the lawmakers of wanting to take charge of the implementation.
After engaging in a shouting match with members of the National Assembly Joint Committee, Senate President Ahmad Lawan called for the suspension of the programme.
However, Keyamo told our reporter on Wednesday that the States Selection Committees are proceeding already with the programme as planned, following the new directive from Buhari.
“I have instructions from Mr. President to proceed. The States Selection Committees are proceeding already with the programme. Nothing stopped them before.
“National Directorate of Employment, NDE, is part of the programme. The state Coordinators of the NDE throughout the country are the Secretaries of those Committees.
“We will work hard to meet the timeline but if there is any need for a change we will inform Mr. President,” he said.
The Special Public Works Programme expected to commence in October is designed to employ 1,000 persons from each of the 774 local government areas of the country and expected to gulp N52 billion meant for the payment of the participants at N20, 000 per month for three months.
It would be recalled that Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo had exchanged words with National Assembly members over the federal government’s 774,000 recruitment exercise.
Government had unveiled a scheme titled, “Special Public Works Programme” to employ 1,000 persons from each of the 774 local government areas.
The initiative is billed to begin on October 1 and each beneficiary will be paid N20, 000 monthly to carry out public works.
The programme is domiciled in the National Directorate of Employment. The National Assembly joint Committees on Labour had invited Keyamo to brief them on the recruitment exercise. Keyamo told the lawmakers that a 20-man selection committee had been constituted in each state of the federation.
Trouble however started when the lawmakers accused the minister of lopsidedness in the composition of the committee’s membership. NDE Director-General Nasiru Ladan said he was only aware of the selection of eight members of the selection committee, adding that he had no knowledge of how the minister arrived at the remaining 12 members.
The lawmakers called for an executive session to resolve the difference, but Keyamo disagreed, insisting that everything must happen on camera
The minister was later walked out of the session; but while addressing reporters outside the venue, Keyamo accused the lawmakers of trying to hijack the programme after reserving 10 – 15 percent slots for them.
Later in a statement, Keyamo directed the state coordinators of the programme to proceed with their work “unhindered”, saying “after I left, I understand that the Joint Committees purportedly suspended the work of the selection committees nationwide until they decide how the programme should be run and who should be in those committee.”
However, as at the time of filing this report, the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan has not reacted to Buhari’s decision.