The ongoing battle between the Minister of Labour (State), Festus Keyamo and the National Assembly on the proposed recruitment of beneficiaries for the implementation of the 774,000 Public Works Programme is an interesting development.
For the avoidance of doubts, the Public Works programme, an interventionist scheme of the Federal Government; intends to recruit 774,000 Nigerians across all the local governments.
Keyamo is accusing the leadership of the National Assembly of attempting to hijack the recruitment process. The minister, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had a stormy meeting with the joint committee of the National Assembly on Labour on Tuesday.
Furthermore, he had accused the lawmakers of already getting an allocation of 15%, but still wanting more. To be fair to the members of the National Assembly; the committee is concerned about the composition of the selection committee set up by Keyamo to implement the N52 billion empowerment scheme.
However, in a press statement issued by the SAN; he described the demand by the Joint Committee to vet the recruitment process as challenging the powers of the President.
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Once again, this friction is the continuation of the constant struggle on separation of powers. Keyamo claimed that “I regret to say that their powers under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution; is only limited to investigations. But NOT TO GIVE ANY DIRECTIVE TO THE EXECUTIVE.”
This is purely an interpretation matter. Appropriation is a law and each chamber of the National Assembly has oversight powers on this; basically in view of their status as the representatives of the people.
However, the antecedent of the National Assembly in attempting to hijack recruitment processes is not encouraging. This is not the first time that lawmakers are making demands to control recruitment.
The argument is always the same: ‘We are closer to the people. Therefore, we should be involved in recruitment.’
Well, this argument makes logical sense based on emotion. However, it lacks substance under intense scrutiny. Recruitment is not and should not be a reward system for politicians. It should be for everyone irrespective of party affiliation. Nigerians, irrespective of their party leanings, should be able to apply for jobs based on criteria unconnected to political bias.
Most recruitments today are shared among the politicians and senior civil servants. Indeed, the National Assembly has been in a long-running battle with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs; specifically, over the social intervention programmes of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Also, the National Assembly had a similar disagreement with Hajia Farouq, the Minister supervising Social Welfare on the COVID-19 palliatives. The lawmakers had demanded to be involved in the distribution of the palliatives.
Even the constituency project scheme they are in charge of has been shameful, to say the very least. The executive arm has the duty of implementing laws made by the National Assembly while the lawmakers have oversight functions to ensure that funds allocated is used for what it’s meant for.
Nevertheless, this latest face-off is coming in the wake of allegations that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; as well as some senators got some N-Power recruitment slots for their constituents. Although, this new fight could be of benefit to the people; it however, speaks badly of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as a party. They could have handled this better.
Already, the National Assembly has suspended the 774, 000 Public Works programme. Further, it disclosed that this would subsist until proper briefing of the members of the National Assembly by the Minister of Labour and Productivity.
Once again, it is the struggling Nigerians who are in dire need of this intervention that would bear the brunt of the tussle.