Festus Keyamo, minister of state for labour and employment, says members of the national assembly are trying to bypass him in the recruitment of 774,000 citizens.
The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is meant to recruit 774,000 people under a special works programme.
The junior minister had engaged in a shouting match with some federal lawmakers when he appeared before them over the recruitment process last week.
Subsequently, the lawmakers put the recruitment process on hold but Keyamo said they do not have such powers.
At a meeting, on Tuesday, Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, apologised to Senate President Ahmad Lawan over the outburst of Keyamo, who was also in attendance.
Responding, Lawan said the labour ministry would enjoy legislative support as long as it is involved in the process.
The joint committee of the national assembly chaired by Godiya Akwashiki, senator representing Nasarawa north, then directed the NDE to submit a work plan on the implementation of the programme.
The panel asked the directorate to submit the plan on Monday.
But speaking with journalists after leaving the meeting, the junior minister said he would go back to President Muhammadu Buhari for further directives.
He said the directives of the national assembly were not binding on him.
“You can see that the whole struggle today has been how to bypass me in the execution of this programme and I’m sure that you all saw that,” the lawyer said.
“Now with the provisions of the law, how they are going to do that, I don’t know, I have to go back to my principal which is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to give directives.
“By section 3 of the NDE act, I am the chairman of the board. The minister is the chairman of the board of the NDE. When you say go back and bring a plan, you are still coming back to me. Secondly, if you look at section 15 of the NDE act, it said the minister may give directives of a general nature to the NDE. In other words, you cannot have a work plan without coming back to the minister.
“The third point is that by virtue of my appointment as a minister, the president gave a directive in October last year saying that I should go and supervise generally the activity of the NDE. I don’t see how you will supervise an agency and they go ahead without approval, the bulk must stop at a table.
“The fourth one, beyond the general mandate the president gave, the president also specifically instructed me by memo in May this year for me to go and supervise the execution of this project. How can you supervise a project without your final approval. That approval lies on my table.
“Section 16(1) of the NDE act, by instruction of the president, an inter-ministerial committee has already been proposed – which we accepted – that the committee must drive the selection process. Section 16(1) said the minister shall constitute committees for the NDE. The director-general of the NDE has no such powers to constitute committees under the law.
“So when you say go back and bring a plan, are you asking the DG to go and break the law? Are you saying the DG should disobey the president? Are you saying the DG should disobey his immediate boss which is his minister?
“I will go back to the president for directives. The directives as to execution of a project is not binding on me. The directives of the national assembly are not binding on me.”
The minister said at the end of the day, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of federation (AGF), would have to interpret the relevant laws under contention.
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