The National Assembly on Wednesday announced the suspension of the Special Public Works programme which was scheduled to take off in Ocober.
The suspension follows the clash between the National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour, Employee and Productivity and the Minister of State for Employment, Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, on Tuesday.
The new pogramme which is under the National Directorate of Employment is tailored for the “illiterates and unskilled workers” according to the minister during its inauguration.
As approved by President, Muhammadu Buhari, 1,000 persons will be employed from each of the 774 LGA in Nigeria, for temporary employment during the dry season. This would amount to a total of 774,000 persons.
The employment period is 3 months and was expected to begin on 1 October this year.
Participants were to be paid an allowance of N20,000 monthly and were to be recruited largely from the pool of unskilled persons ordinarily resident in those rural areas.
Total payment of the allowance would amount to N46.44 billion, for all the participants for the 3 months period.
The National Assembly had in the 2020 budget, appropriated the sum of N52 billion for the Special Public Works Programme.
But the nation’s parliament on Wednesday said the programme has been suspended following the disagreement between it and Keyamo.
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The suspension was announced by the spokesperson for the Senate, Ajibola Basiru, at a press conference in Abuja.
He said the National Assembly has summoned the Minister in charge of the Ministry to appear before the federal legislature, to explain the recruitment modalities. It also said the suspension of the programme is within it’s constitutional powers.
Senator Basiru had read a statement he jointly signed with the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, titled, “FG Public Works Programme must benefit Nigerians.” The joint statement read:
“Implementation of the 774,000 Public Works to be put on hold until implementation modalities are explained to NASS. The National Assembly is concerned about the proper and effective implementation of the engagement of 774,000 Public Works Workers and wishes to restate its commitment to its success.
“The National Assembly, in line with its constitutional oversight function, has mandated its Committees on Labour and Productivity to immediately invite the Minister of Labour and Productivity and any other relevant officials of the Ministry to appear before the joint committee to brief it on the modality for the implementation of the engagement of 774,000 persons for public works.
“In view of the foregoing, the implementation of the programme shall be on hold, pending proper briefing of the National Assembly by the Minister of Labour and Productivity.”
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Keyamo while reacting to the Senate’s action yesterday said: “From what I have read, they are merely advising the President. They know they cannot challenge the powers of the President in terms of execution of policies, programmes and projects. “They cannot order the stoppage, continuation and suspension of any policy and programme properly appropriated for.
“The NASS, as distinguished as the members are, I’m sorry to say, there are clear limitations to their powers. “They can only investigate the execution of those policies, programmes or projects for the purpose of exposing corruption. That is where their power ends.
“If they find any corruption, they can now pass the report of their investigation to the appropriate body, either the Police in case of a crime or the Presidency in case of breach of administrative procedure in respect of any appointee of the President for further action.”