Senate president and chairman of the National Assembly, Ahmed Lawan, maintained yesterday that the recruitment process for the 774, 000 Special Public Works programme under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) remains suspended until detailed explanations on modalities for its implementation are obtained from the executive arm of government.
He also insisted that the NDE was the only body empowered by law to supervise the recruitment process.
Lawan spoke while responding to questions raised by journalists during an interactive session at the Senate wing of the National Assembly.
He noted that an approval of N52billion was earmarked for the project in the 2020 budget attached to the NDE programme.
He said, “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 would be the agency to implement the programme and we approved that because we knew NDE had the capacity to implement the programme.
“So that programme is an NDE programme, approved by the National Assembly worth N52billion. Secondly, it is within the purview of our committees to demand an explanation on the process and procedure through which the programme will be implemented. So our joint committee was right. The Committee was right to ask the questions”.
Lawan insisted the National Assembly is empowered by the Constitution to interrogate processes by which programmes of government are being implemented.
He said, “We are meant to interrogate the processes through which such programmes will be implemented. 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.
“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 N52billion 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?”
Apparently reacting to the face-off between the minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo (SAN), Lawan said the personal opinion of a minister would not hinder the heinous relationship existing between the executive and the legislature.
He continued: “Only one person defines the executive arm of government. Any other person there 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”.