The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan on Monday insisted that the cordial relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and the 9th National Assembly remains intact despite the recent altercation between the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo SAN, and the National Assembly Joint Committee supervising the Ministry.
He also insisted that the planned recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians for the Special Public Works programme of the Federal Government remains suspended until the National Assembly is availed of the necessary explanation regarding the process of selecting the beneficiaries.
AllNews had reported that some members of the National Assembly last Tuesday walked Keyamo out of the committee session they were having after a heated argument ensued between committee members and Keyamo over who should head the programme which was to be domiciled under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
But speaking during an interactive session with the Senate Press Corps in Abuja on Monday, the President of the Senate asserted that this row would not in any way strain the cordial relationship between the executive arm of government and the legislature.
Lawan who was asked if the recent disagreement between Keyamo and a National Assembly Joint Committee is not an indication that members of the executive arm of government are not on the same page with the legislature, said that it is only Buhari that defines the executive and not any of his employees.
His words, “Let me go to the first question that it appears we are not on the same page with the executive arm of government. Only one person defines the executive arm of government. Any other person there is 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 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.”
He explained that the National Assembly approved and appropriated N52billion for the Special Public Works (SPW) programme under the supervision of the NDE and that it also has the right to demand to know the processes and procedures through which the programme will be implemented.
The Senate President continued: “So our joint committee was right. The Committee was right to ask the questions. We are meant to interrogate the processes through which such programmes will be implemented.
“The Committee resolved that the programme should be suspended until such explanations are provided on how this programme will be implemented. We stand by that.
“The National Assembly is saying that programme remains suspended until the executive arm of government comes to explain how they will implement that programme across the states and we insist that we passed the budget for NDE to go and implement because it has the capacity. 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.”
He said that the National Assembly would not have approved and appropriated funds for the SPW if it did not like the programme, adding that, “for us, we have passed the budget, we have approved it, we are going to support the programme because our constituents will be the beneficiaries and if we didn’t like the programme we would not have passed it.
“So it would be unfair to say that the executive and us in the legislature are not on the same page because of an action by someone out or among the executive,” he said.
The President of the Senate added: “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.
“How are the 1,000 beneficiaries from each Local Government going to be selected, how do we measure the success of the programme, how do we key in to support the executive arm of government to succeed in that respect.
“So there is nothing that this is an indication that the executive and the legislature are not on the same page.
“But this is a programme that Nigerians must benefit and we are representatives of Nigerians we want complete understanding of how this programme is going to be implemented.”