Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed resolutions insisting that the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) will implement the Special Public Works program.
The lawmakers also urged the Ministry of Finance not to release any funds for the implementation of the Special Public Works program if it would breach the due process, Appropriation Act 2020 (As Amended) as well as the NDE Act.
The resolutions were passed after deliberations on similar motions in both Chambers on Tuesday.
There have been misunderstandings between the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the National Assembly regarding the implementing body. While the minister of state for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has said the ministry has to implement the program, the lawmakers have said otherwise.
Mr. Keyamo and the joint committee on labor were involved in a war of words two weeks ago over the planned employment of 774,000 Nigerians by the government. This was at a meeting aimed at discussing the progress of the planned employment.
N52 billion has been allocated for the Special Public Works Programme in the 2020 budget.
Mr. Keyamo accused the lawmakers of wanting to sabotage the recruitment process despite receiving 15 percent job slots.
The NDE, according to the lawmakers, is meant to implement the recruitment under a special works program.
They had accused Mr. Keyamo of hijacking the program from the NDE. The minister hit back, saying they were the ones trying to take over the project. And the minister made the same counter-accusation.
The committee later demanded that the program be suspended until the modalities for the implementation of the exercise have been explained to the lawmakers.
Unsatisfied with the resolution, Mr. Keyamo insisted that the program cannot be implemented without his approval according to the NDE Act.
He said the controversy surrounding the program is an attempt by the National Assembly to bypass him in the implementation of the project.
But the federal government had on July 7, announced the commencement of the program. Mr. Keyamo confirmed to Punch newspapers that the president gave him the go-ahead to implement the process.
Raising a Point of Order, Opeyemi Bamidele said there is the need to go ahead and cooperate with the executive to ensure the smooth and full implementation of the program as provided for in the revised appropriation law passed by the national assembly.
He, however, said while recognizing the supervisory role of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Senate needs “to hold the NDE responsible both for the implementation of the program and surrendering of accounts for monies appropriated by the program by the National Assembly.”
The lawmakers thereafter, resolved that the “appropriation of the sum of N52 billion for the 774,000 public works program is invested in the National Directorate of Employment and therefore must be implemented accordingly and;
“The Senate will exercise its oversight function on implementation of the program.”
In a similar motion at the House sponsored by Toby Okechukwu and Nnolim Nnaji, they noted that the Ministry of Labour and Employment was not named as the implementing agency when the program was proposed by the executive.
“By our laws as presently constituted, the NDE is an implementing agency with the Minister of Labour, not Minister of State, an aberration and indeed an entity unknown to the law is the supervising Minister.”
They also condemned Mr. Keyamo’s “attitude” towards the lawmakers and the National Assembly.
“This attitude may jeopardize the capacity of the National Assembly to oversight and ensure prudence as enshrined in sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution,” part of the motion read.
They thereafter urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Labour recognized by the Constitution and NDE Act, to live up to his lawful responsibility of supervising the NDE, ensuring non-interference and meddlesomeness by any persons in the running of the agency.