There was drama on Tuesday following a shouting match between members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour and the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN.
Keyamo had appeared before the joint committee to brief the lawmakers on the Federal Government’s Special Public Works Programme designed to employ 1,000 persons from each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the federation.
The programme is expected to gulp N52billion, which is already appropriated in the revised 2020 budget.
The public works 20-man selection Committee is being chaired by the Director General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nasir Ladan Argungu and supervised by Keyamo.
Trouble started when Argungu could not explain the modality for choosing the 20-man national selection Committee for the programme.
He said he could only account for eight statutory members of the selection Committee and that it is only the Minister of State that can account for the remaining 12 persons.
The lawmakers insisted Keyamo should tell them how the remaining 12 members of the Committee were chosen.
Some members of the committee complained that the representatives of their states in the selection Committee for the Programme were not known to them.
They also wanted the Minister to explain how a programme he included representatives of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), youth groups and market women on the selection Committee meant to select the public workers.
The lawmakers frowned at a situation where a Federal Government programme expected to gulp N52billion is being shrouded in secrecy.
At this point, a co-chairman of the Committee, Senator Godiya Akwashiki said the session would resolve into closed door to thrash out salient issues about the programms.
However, the Minister insisted since the questions were asked and allegations were made in the full glare of television cameras, closed door was not necessary as he wants his Defence to be captured by the press as well.
His insistence the session should continue in the open to enable him respond to queries angered the lawmakers who insisted that Keyamo cannot direct how a session by a National Assembly Committee should be conducted.
The members of the committee asked Keyamo to apologise for attempting to disobey directives on how the sitting should be conducted.
Keyamo insisted that he would not apologise, saying he had done nothing wrong.
The Minister threatened that he would walk out on the committee if they will not allow him to speak in the presence of the press.
The committee said he can go if he was not ready to abide by the Committee’s decision to go into closed door.
This disagreement by the lawmakers and the insistence by the Minister led to raised voices, flared tempers, banging on tables and eventual storming out of the session by Keyamo.
The uproar brought the session to an abrupt end.
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