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Keyamo, senators exchange words over engagement of 774,000 social workers

It was another rowdy session yesterday at the National Assembly premises, as members engaged in a shouting match with the Minister of State, Labour and productivity, Festus Keyamo, over the ongoing recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians under the current administration’s Special Public Works Programme (SPWP) across the nation’s 774 council areas.

The lawmakers threatened to suspend the exercise.

The Joint Committee on Labour and Productivity had invited Keyamo to explain the modalities for the engagement.

The atmosphere in the Room 231 venue of the committee meeting suddenly became charged over the mode the deliberation should take.

While the panel opted for a closed session, the minister, on the other hand, insisted that it should be made open with full compliment of reporters.

The legislators had claimed that members of the SPWP’s state selection committee were lopsidedly appointed, accusing Keyamo of abusing due process in the appointment of additional 12 members after an earlier picking of eight persons said to be duly chosen.

The minister, who was already set to respond to the allegations, became enraged when chairman of the committee, Godiya Akwashiki, suddenly declared that the meeting should continue behind closed doors.

The senators, who saw Keyamo’s insistence on open session as an embarrassment, maintained that they had the right to dictate the proceedings.

They, therefore, demanded an apology, which the minister equally refused, insisting on responding to the accusations in the open.

Matter came to the head when the invitee threatened a walkout should the lawmakers persist with their closed-door session proposal.

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Amid obstinacy from both parties, the parley ended abruptly, with the minister walking out on the parliamentarians.

But fielding questions from newsmen later, Keyamo accused the lawmakers of attempting to hijack the employment.

The minister explained that though the National Assembly had the right to investigate the exercise, he added that such privilege did not give them the powers “to seek to control the exercise.”

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