BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – A high wired drama played out on Tuesday as the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Labor took on the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo SAN, and ordered him out of a meeting.
This is taking place barely 24 hours after the Minister of State for Labour inaugurated a 20-man committee in the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) through virtual communication.
Keyamo had said that he is under attack by politicians over the 774,000 jobs as they want to take control of the programme to enable them place only their people in the programme to the detriment of poor Nigerians.
The Joint Committee had invited Keyamo to brief it on the details of the Special Public Works Programme in which about 774,000 people are expected to be employed by the Federal Government under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
The meeting which took place at the National Assembly witnessed members of the Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Labour made attempts to get details of the method that is to be adopted in the selection of the 20-man committee from each state of the federation for the programme.
As the meeting was progressing, there was however a turn of event as a heated argument suddenly erupted between the legislators and the Minister of State over who should wheel the programme expected to be domiciled with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) being one of the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
Tempers accordingly flared out of control thus turned into a rowdy session, a development that forced the National Assembly Joint Committee to go into a closed door session to find a way out of the impasse but the minister refused to bulge insisting that the matter should be discussed in the presence of journalists.
The insistence of Keyamo infuriated the Committee members, who then ordered the Minister of State for Labour to tender an apology for his behaviour but he chose to ignore members of the Committee.
Following Keyamo’s refusal to apologise, the National Assembly Joint Committee ordered him to leave the meeting.
The Committee members insisted that the Minister has no right whatsoever to direct them on how to conduct legislative proceedings.
The Minister of State for Labour had said that 1,000 persons would be selected from each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country for appointment by the Federal Government in its Special Public Works Programme.