Let them shout!
On June 30, there was a heated argument between the Minister of State for Employment, Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo and the National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour and Employment. Keyamo had honoured the invitation of the Joint Committee to explain the selection modalities for the employment of 774,000 youths for the Special Public Works programme under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
Their deliberations turned into what many have termed a shouting match when the Joint Committee asked Keyamo why he did not privately submit the programme to them for vetting before making certain moves.
Keyamo had said: “They suggested that they ought to have an input on how the programme should be implemented. In other words, they sought to control the programme as to who gets what, where and how. However, I insisted that I could not surrender the programme to their control since their powers under the constitution do not extend to that.”
It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on April 6 approved the employment of 1,000 youths from the 774 Local Government Areas across the country, making the number 774,000. The programme which has an allocation of N52 billion in the 2020 budget was slated to run from October to December 2020. The selected youths would be engaged in public works to earn a N20,000 monthly salary throughout the duration of the programme.
But responding on July 1, the spokesman of Senate, Ajibola Basiru, announced the suspension of the programme. He said: “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.”
Basiru also advised Buhari to approach the courts if not satisfied with their decision. He said: “If the President sees that his power is being encroached, he can approach the court of law.”
He further argued that the programme was not an exclusive presidential programme. “It cannot be left to the whims of a person or a branch of a government, it has to be a totality of the government which is the Executive and the Legislature,” he insisted.
The Lawan-led 9th Assembly had, overtime, being reportedly branded a rubber stamp legislature with minimal or no checks on the programmes and policies of the Buhari administration. Though Keyamo’s spat with the lawmakers was unexpected, it demonstrates the desired existence of checks and balances between the executive and legislative arms of our government.
However, it is important for both parties to quickly resolve their differences for the benefit of unemployed Nigerians seeking a means of survival.
While the public ‘fight’ is good for the health of our fledgling democracy, it is also important to remind the Buhari-led administration that a sustainable response to the unemployment challenge must be sought.
There should be no bragging right over a job scheme that would see most of the 774,000 beneficiaries back to the job queues after only three-months.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“It is very unfortunate when people say we don’t want to fight corruption. Does fighting corruption start and end with an individual? It doesn’t?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
And, Lawan denies N-Power moves
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, last week, expressly distanced himself from media reports alleging that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management had allocated N-Power recruitment slots to him and other lawmakers.
He prayed members of the public to ignore the fake and deliberately harmful reports, describing them as baseless and frivolous. In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, Lawan said:
“We wish to stress that neither the Senate President nor this office has anything to do with the purported slots mischievously credited by the publication to the Senate President.
“We firmly restate that the story in reference is malicious and should be disregarded.”
Lawan’s denial is understandable. It does his image no good to be associated with clannish or nepotistic tendencies.
Whatever the facts may be, Lawan and other public officials must learn to be selfless always and ensure that a level playing ground is guaranteed all Nigerians who are seeking access to opportunities.
The Senate President must, therefore, go beyond his denial to encourage fellow Senators to help build a culture of healthy competition within the public space.
Beyond that motion on cancer
The House of Representatives, on July 2, made a move to tackle the scourge of cancer which sees to the death of hundreds of Nigerians every year.
To accomplish this, the House encouraged the Nigerian Government to facilitate the establishment of stand-alone comprehensive cancer centres in each of the six geo-political zones of the country.
It made this move sequel to the adoption of the motion: “Need to address the incidence of mortality from cancer in Nigeria,” sponsored by Hon. Samuel Adejare who urged the Federal Ministry of Health to partner with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and other relevant stakeholders and development partners to harness a multi-sectoral effort to improve cancer care in Nigeria.
Adejare noted thus: “The House is concerned that going by the current trend, cancer is fast becoming a national epidemic and a serious health emergency with dire consequences if no urgent and effective intervention is instituted.”
On February 4, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, had while speaking at a briefing held in Abuja to commemorate the 2020 World Cancer Day, disclosed that: “According to the Nigeria National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (2018-2022), cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in Nigeria every year with an estimated 102,000 new cases of cancer annually.”
The cancer scourge is real and can’t be overemphasized. Will Adejare’s motion go beyond a mere wish to become an Act of Parliament?
The existence of only eight functional radiotherapy machines for cancer treatment and palliation in Nigeria is no match for the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards of having at least 180 machines for the over 180 million people. The gap becomes even more manifest in the face of the low number of required specialized personnel such as gynaecologists, radiotherapists and pathologists for cancer care in the country.
These facts are scary. And, they emphasise the need for the Nigerian Government to wake up to its responsibilities and address the identified loopholes.
Answer: Bukola Saraki
The statement was made by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki. He made the statement in 2017 while featuring on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja. And, that was after he led the screening that saw the rejection of the now suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
By John Chukwu…
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