The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, declared on Monday that the National Directorate of Employment must be in charge of the recruitment of 774, 000 youths across Nigeria, which is part of the Federal Government COVID-19 palliative measures.
He, however, said that the NDE and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, must first explain the modalities for the recruitment process.
Lawan stated this during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja.
He clarified that since the N52bn meant for the implementation of the programme was approved for the NDE, the agency must be in total control.
He said, “The National Assembly consciously and patriotically passed the request of the executive for N52bn to undertake the programme of the public works across the country, where 1,000 youths will be employed in every local government area in the country, totalling 774,000 people.
“That was the approval given by the National Assembly to the budget request of Mr President.
“When the National Assembly was to pass the request, we were conscious that the NDE will be the agency to implement the programme and we approved that because we know the NDE has the capacity to implement the programme.
“So, that programme is an NDE programme approved by the National Assembly worth N52bn.
“So, our joint committee was right to ask questions. We are meant to interrogate the processes through which such programmes will be implemented.”
Dismissing insinuation that the lawmakers were opposed to the recruitment, Lawan added, “If we didn’t like the programme, we would not have passed it. So, it would be unfair to say that the executive and we in the legislature are not on the same page because of an action by someone in the executive.
“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 approved N52bn for it and somebody should explain to us, the processes of selecting the States Selection Committee.”
The National Assembly had last week asked the President to suspend the programme, following a face-off between the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, and the joint panel of the two chambers of the federal parliament.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Non-Governmental Organisations Forum on Monday advised Keyamo not to allow the legislators to hijack the recruitment.
BANGOF said his face-off with the legislators had exposed the lawmakers’ desperation to take control of the recruitment.
“It is a trite fact that a significant number of the so-called lawmakers in the National Assembly are there to represent their stomachs, their godfathers and friends.
“As such, they have no iota of empathy for the ordinary citizen suffocating under the burden of bad governance, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic,” the group said in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr Keme Opia.