The special works programme with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) has kicked off nationwide with the president’s backing.
President Muhammadu Buhari has thrown his weight behind Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, as the special works programme in the 774 local government areas commences nationwide.
On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, Keyamo was walked out of the national assembly after he rejected moves by lawmakers to hijack the programme.
“There was a misunderstanding between us when they questioned why I did not privately submit the program to them for vetting before taking certain steps,” Keyamo said afterwards.
“They suggested that they ought to have an input on how the programme should be implemented. In other words, they sought to control the programme as to who gets what, where and how.
Festus Keyamo says he is not about to abandon his principles for corrupt politicians (Instagram: @Festuskeyamo70)
An apology from Ngige
On July 7, 2020, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, led a delegation to the senate to apologize to Senate President Ahmad Lawan for Keyamo’s conduct during the committee hearing.
During the meeting, the senate president insisted that Keyamo’s ministry cannot afford to proceed with the programme without input from lawmakers.
“This national assembly can support you very well, but it can stand tough if its will is tested. We want our committees to work with your ministry to implement this programme,” Lawan told Ngige.
The senate president also declared all previous actions taken by Keyamo as ‘null and void’ and told Ngige to work with lawmakers to start afresh.
Keyamo wouldn’t back down
However, after Ngige’s meeting with Lawan, Keyamo insisted that he wasn’t going to allow lawmakers control the process because his actions are backed by law.
“By virtue of Section 3 (2)of the NDE Act, as supervising minister, I am the chairman of the Board of NDE that superintends and gives directions to the management of the NDE.
“That by virtue of section 15 of the NDE Act, I am also authorized, as supervising Minister, to give general directives to the Board and Management, with which they must comply.
“By virtue of Section 16 (1) of the NDE Act, the supervising minister has the sole prerogative to constitute committees for the agency.
“In addition to the above, Section 6(2) of the National Directorate of Employment Act states that, ‘The Director-General shall, subject to this Act, be the Chief Executive of the Directorate and shall be responsible to the minister for the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Directorate.
“By a memo Ref: CAO.143/S.1/T11/8 dated October 18, 2019, and forwarded to all government functionaries by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, I was mandated by Mr. President to oversee all the activities of the National Directorate of Employment,” Keyamo said defiantly.
Buhari takes sides with his minister
Pulse learnt that President Buhari leaned toward his minister when Keyamo narrated all that had transpired with the legislators; and asked Keyamo to proceed with project implementation.
The president also wondered why the legislature is meddling in what is strictly an executive affair.
On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, Keyamo flagged off the programme.
Keyamo has inaugurated special committees in all the states of the federation and the FCT for the selection of applicants for the programme.
During a virtual inauguration conference jointly addressed by the Director-General, National Directorate of Employment, Dr Nasir Ladan Argungu in Abuja, the minister disclosed that an inter-ministerial committee drawn from eight ministries and headed by the NDE recommended the setting up of States’ Selection Committees to identify and recruit those to be engaged.
“These committees will also be saddled with the responsibility of identifying the public works to be executed in each of the LGAs in all the states.
“This would be in addition to projects already identified by several federal ministries, agencies and parastatals in different localities across the country.
“Having accepted the recommendations, we also ensured that the composition of the committees is multi-sectoral and local enough to balance all the competing interests in different states.
“Your selection, therefore, was a result of a painstaking process we carried out to ensure that we make the exercise as credible as possible.
“The 1,000 persons you will recruit per LGA would be engaged by the federal government between October and December this year to carry out public works that are peculiar to each local government area.
“They will be paid a total of N60,000 each (that is N20,000 per month). They will be engaged in roads rehabilitation and social housing construction, urban and rural sanitation, health extension and other critical services.”
He further said that the programme could be extended or repeated every year.
“After the selection of those to be engaged, they still have to be captured by some selected banks we are in talks with, their accounts opened, and their BVNs obtained. This is because Mr. President has directed that everyone must be paid through their BVNs to eliminate fraud in the programme.
“As a result, I direct that all the states’ selection committees have just three weeks to complete the selection process and return the names of those selected to us for further processing with the banks.
“My belief is that if the committees adhere strictly to the guidelines given to them, they are bound to achieve the targets set by Mr. President to reach out to 774,000 Nigerians who are largely indigent and itinerant workers,” Keyamo added.