* Says public works project remains suspended
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, on Monday declared that no appointee of government can cause crisis between the executive and legislative arms of government.
He also insisted that the suspension of the recruitment of 774,000 personnel for the federal government public works programme remains in force until the modus operandi of the scheme are clearly spelt out by the executive.
Apparently referring to last week’s face-off between members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour and the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, resulting in the latter being walked out of the interactive session for the modalities for the implementation of the social works scheme, the Senate President said President Muhammadu Buhari represents the executive arm of government that the National Assembly is on the same page with, on various development – driven national projects.
Lawan, who stated this while responding to a question during an interactive session with newsmen, added that the N52 billion appropriated project must be implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), as contained in the N10.8 trillion revised 2020 budget.
He said: “Only one person defines the executive arm of government. Any other person, aside the vice-president, is either recruited or appointed to support that one person.
“That one person is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So if somebody, an employee or an appointee, out of several others, does something that does not show harmony, it will be unfair and uncharitable to say that the executive arm of government is not on the same page with us.”
He also explained that the National Assembly approved the N52 billion voted for the public works project bearing in mind that the NDE has the capacity to execute the project.
“Let me tell you also here that the National Assembly consciously and patriotically passed the request of the executive for N52 billion to undertake the programme on Public Works across the country, where 1,000 youths particularly will be employed in every single local government – and that will give you 774,000 people to be employed.
“That was the approval by the National Assembly in the approved budget request of Mr. President. When the National Assembly was to pass the request, the National Assembly was conscious through scrutiny that NDE (National Directorate of Employment) will be the agency to implement the programme and we approved that because we know NDE has the capacity to implement the programme.
“So, that programme is an NDE programme approved by the National Assembly worth N52 billion. Secondly, it is within the purview of our committees to demand an explanation on the process and procedure through which this programme will be implemented. So our joint committee was right. The committee was right to ask the questions.
“We are meant to interrogate the processes through which such programmes will be implemented. Thirdly, the committee’s resolve that the programme should be suspended until such explanations are provided on how this programme will be implemented. We stand by that.
“Our purpose is not just to approve money. We insist that only NDE will implement this programme and even the NDE led by the Minister of Employment and Productivity will have to come and explain to the National Assembly committees how they will implement the programme.
“For us, we have passed the budget, we have approved it. We are going to support the programme because our constituents will be the beneficiaries and if we didn’t like the programme we would not have passed it. So, it would be unfair to say that the executive and us in the legislature are not on the same page because of an action by someone out there or among the executive.
“I want the press to understand that what the National Assembly is insisting on is in the national and public interest. It is in the national interest that we know what is going on because we passed the N52 billion and somebody should explain to us how the processes of selecting the states’ Selection Committee is? Who are the stakeholders? How are they identified and nominated?
“How are the 1,000 beneficiaries from each local government going to be selected? How do we measure the success of the programme? How do we key in to support the executive arm of government to succeed in that respect? So there is nothing that this is an indication that the executive and the legislature are not on the same page. But this is a programme that Nigerians must benefit and we are representatives of Nigerians we want complete understanding of how this programme is going to be implemented,” he said.
Lawan emphasised that the social programme will remain suspended until the executive arm furnishes the Assembly with required details about the scheme.
According to him, “The National Assembly is saying that programme remains suspended until the executive arm of government comes to explain how they will implement that programme across the states and will insist.
“The joint committee resolved that the programme should be suspended until certain explanations are provided on how this programme will be implemented. The committee was trying to ask some questions and we are meant to interrogate the processes through which such programme will be implemented.”