National Assembly suspends Buhari’s 774,000 jobs programme

President of the Senate Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi
Gbajabiamila: National Assembly flexes muscles with Buhari on 774,000 jobs

By Naomi Sharang

Tuesday’s face-off between Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo and the National Assembly joint committee of labour over the 774,000 jobs plan, spilled into plenary of the two chambers today.

In a statement, the National Assembly said it has suspended the Public Works Programme until proper briefing by the Minister of Labour and Productivity.

Spokesman of the Senate, Sen. Ajibola Basiru, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.

In the statement signed by him and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, Basiru said:

“The National Assembly is concerned about the proper and effective implementation of the engagement of 774, 000 public workers and wishes to restate its commitment to its success.”

On Tuesday, the joint committee of the NASS, walked out Festus Keyamo, during an investigative hearing over the 774,000 jobs of the Federal Government. Committee members said they should be part of the planning for the recruitment for the three-month jobs.

But Keyamo, a senior advocate of Nigeria, said the implementation is solely an executive function.

Basiru reminded the public that the legislature was part of the conception of the programme, approved it and appropriated funds for its implementation as part of the COVID-19 response strategy.

“The National Assembly, in line with its constitutional oversight function, had mandated its Committees on Labour and Productivity to immediately invite the Ministry of Labour and Productivity and any other relevant officials of the ministry to appear before the joint committee.

“This is to brief it on the modality for the implementation of the engagement of 774,000 persons for public works.

“In accordance with the constitutional imperative of oversight, the legislature being important stakeholders in the democratic process, and elected representatives of the people, needed to be appraised of modalities for implementation for effective feedback to our constituents.

“And in ensuring that our constituents optimally participate in and benefit from the process.

“The National Assembly will ensure transparency of the process just as done with the National Social Register by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and social Development”, they said in the statement.

“Oversight function is to ensure that the money is used for the purpose for which it is used and in accordance with our oath and the oath of the minister and the President.

“That is to act in the interest of the state without fear or favour, affection or ill will,” the statement qouted them as saying.

They further said that if the president “sees that their power is being encroached, they can approach the court of law.

“The conception of the programme, its approval and its funding is with the consent of the national assembly.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP-Anambra) while briefing news men in Abuja said that the action by Keyamo “was a very bad display of rascality.

“I don’t know what a senator will be doing with a job of N20,000 or N30,000 if not to make sure that it is given to the people in the constituency.”

“If that job is given to us, it will be shared equally or a percentage of it to be given to senators.

“We will take it back to the people we are representing but giving it to people who will go and mortgage it and sell it or hand it to an agency that will market it is totally unacceptable to the Nigerian Senate,” he said.