The face-off between the Presidency and the National Assembly regarding the recruitment of 774,000 persons became messier on Wednesday.
At an executive session, the Senate debated the Tuesday clash between the National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour and Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo (SAN), during which the lawmakers expressed anger about what they described as a display of executive rascality.
Consequently, the Senate announced that the two chambers of the National Assembly had ordered that the implementation of the 774,000 public works programme should be put on hold until the legislature is properly briefed.
Rising from the emergency executive session, the Senate also announced that the two chambers of the National Assembly had reached the conclusion to ensure that there is transparency in the entire recruitment process.
In a joint statement signed by the spokesmen of the Senate and House of Representatives, Ajibola Basiru and Benjamin Kalu, it was pointed out that the National Assembly as part of the conception of the programme.
Rejecting the claim that the powers of President Buhari were being encroached upon, the lawmakers declared: “If the president believes that his powers are being encroached, he can approach the court of law.”
The lawmakers lamented that the impression had been given that the programme was an exclusive preserve of the presidency
“The conception of the programme, its approval and its funding is with the consent of the National Assembly because we believe it is going to be beneficial for the purpose of addressing the challenges of COVID-19.
According to the National Assembly, the totality of the three arms is what constitutes government and it cannot be left to the whims of a person or a branch of a government.
The lawmakers further pointed out that “when the government is doing a programme, it is not President Buhari that is doing the programme, it is the government of the people. We are asking about how these 1000 people per local government area are generated, who set up the selection committee, what are the modalities for recruitment?”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, has waded into the face-off with a view to amicably resolving the contentious issues.
Gbajabiamila, who dropped the hint when he made a surprise appearance at the Public Accounts Committee public hearing at the National Assembly complex Abuja, assured that the differences between the parties would be resolved within the next 24 hours.
The Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Labour had invited Keyamo to give details of the Special Public Works Programme in which 774,000 unemployed youths would be recruited by the Federal Government under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
During the hearing, the committee sought to find out the method of selection of a 20-man panel from each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja for the programme.
However, a heated argument erupted between the lawmakers and the minister over who should lead the programme which was to be domiciled under the NDE.
In the meantime, the Senate has challenged the Nigeria Police and other relevant security agencies to investigate the attacks by herdsmen on Echori and Itakpa communities in Benue State, with a view to arresting the perpetrators.
The Upper Chamber urged the security agencies to urgently review their operational mechanism with a view to being more proactive, just as it mandated the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately mobilize relief materials to those displaced by the recent attacks in Echori and Itakpa communities.