Talks on contentious 774,000 jobs for youths collapse

Talks on contentious 774,000 jobs for youths collapse
Festus Kenyamo

Senate insists NDE presides over programme, gets 2021-3 MTEF/FSP

The talks, between President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly leadership to resolve the contentious engagement of 774,000 young Nigerians nationwide under the current administration’s Special Public Works (SPW), has collapsed.

Accordingly, the Senate has maintained its grounds that the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, lacked the constitutional powers to preside over the programme, which N52 billion had been approved for, and the beneficiaries were to be paid N20,000 each monthly to carry out public works.

The minister had announced that he had received the presidential nod to commence the recruitment.

Following the pronouncement, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and the House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, visited President Buhari to discuss the matter, and arrive at a common position.

But rising from a closed-door session that lasted over an hour yesterday, the Senate adopted a motion, insisting that only the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) had powers to superintend over the project.

It was learnt that the anger of the upper legislative chamber followed the failure of the President to remove Keyamo or take the programme from his control.

The senators, who had earlier ordered the minister to halt the exercise, went into a closed-door session to discuss more on the issue.

The minister had engaged in a shooting match with the lawmakers when summoned to defend the programme.

After a heated argument, he had accused the legislators of trying to seize the scheme by getting undue slots.

On the other hand, they claimed Keyamo was attempting to hijack the undertaking from the NDE.

And adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti State), the Red Chamber recognised the NDE as the only agency with the statutory powers to coordinate employment programmes in the country.

Also yesterday, the Nigerian leader forwarded the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) to the senators for their approval.

The accompanying letter was read during plenary by Lawan.

Buhari equally requested the confirmation of Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu as Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) representing Abia State in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Meanwhile, the Senate President has announced the appointment of Ibrahim El-Ladan as Acting Clerk of the chamber, effective July 17,2020.

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