The Minister of State for Labour, Employment, and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, was involved in a war of words with a joint committee of the National Assembly on Labour, Employment, and Productivity on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

The minister had appeared before the committee to discuss the Special Public Works Programme which seeks to recruit a total of 774,000 Nigerians across the country.

The programme, which seeks to employ 1,000 Nigerians in each 774 local government area, is implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).

When the Director-General of the NDE, Nasiru Ladan, was asked by the committee to answer questions relating to the N52 billion budgeted for the recruitment exercise, he said Keyamo was in a better position to answer.

Ladan also said he had no knowledge of how recruitment committees for each state were selected.

The committee then called for a private session, without the presence of the media, to probe Keyamo to explain his involvement in the recruitment process.

However, the minister rejected the move, saying the investigative hearing must continue with the media present as monitors.

This angered the committee who accused him of grandstanding and dictating the process of the hearing.

Senator Godiya Akwashiki chaired the committee that questioned Keyamo (Guardian)
Senator Godiya Akwashiki chaired the committee that questioned Keyamo (Guardian)

Keyamo refused to back down, asking at the top of his voice, "How can you expose corruption without the cameras?"

The minister was then asked to leave the hearing after he refused to apologise for his position.

Keyamo accuses politicians of hijack plot

When he inaugurated the state selection committees on Monday, Keyamo had alleged that politicians were trying to hijack the recruitment process.

"There have been attempts at blackmailing me in this particular programme too to make us also yield to political leaders and we have said no, not while I am here," he said.

However, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour, Employment, and Productivity, Godiya Akwashiki, accused the minister after Tuesday's rowdy hearing of trying to use the programme to build a political structure across the country.

774,000 to be engaged for three months

The States' Selection Committees are responsible for identifying the public works to be executed in each LGA, and will also identify and recruit those to be engaged under the programme.

Keyamo told them on Monday to complete the selection processes within three weeks.

Beneficiaries of the programme, which will run for three months between October and December, will be paid N20,000 per month.

They will be expected to perform tasks in roads rehabilitation, social housing construction, urban and rural sanitation, and other critical services.