Minister of Labour, Productivity and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige
The Minister of Labour, Productivity and Employment, Chris Ngige has tendered an unreserved apology to the entire Senators and House of Reps members, especially members of the joint committee on Labour, Productivity and Employment on the unruly behaviour of his Minister of State, Festus Keyamo.
Senator Ngige tendered the apology on Tuesday when he led a delegation from the Ministry on a visit to the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, at the National Assembly, Abuja.
Ngige said: “Having visited your domain to the Joint Committee on Labour, Productivity and Employment over some issues of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government, a Programme that was designed by the Executive with the legislature, if the Executive makes a proposal and it is not funded, then that proposal will be dead on the table.
“We deeply regret the incident that happened, the altercation that followed it, between my Minister of State and members of the Joint Committee.
“I, therefore, request that we forgive and forget. Let us turn a new page and start off on this Programme which the National Assembly has indicated that they’ve suspended. We can’t suspend forever programmes that affect our people,” Ngige pleaded.
Ngige further noted that the National Assembly can’t be ignored in the progress of the nation, thereby, asked the lawmakers to forgive and forget what transpired earlier between his colleague and the lawmakers.
The Senate President in his response explained that the decision by the National Assembly to approve the sum of N52 billion as requested by the Executive for the Special Public Works Programme was mainly out of the confidence in the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to implement accordingly.
He stated that the Ministry of Labour, Productivity and Employment only has a supervisory role to play in the implementation of the Programme designed to recruit 774,000 Nigerians.
“When Mr. President presented the request for the appropriation of N52 billion for Public Works, the National Assembly Committees scrutinized and recommended to the plenary of the two chambers the same request without any change, while recommending the passage.
“The National Assembly passed that request feeling convinced that this is one Programme that is needed in this country especially at this time.
“But we were also conscious of one thing, who should implement the programme? That was one of our considerations. Even the Executive requested that the National Directorate for Employment (NDE) should implement the Programme, and we agreed with that for the following reasons.
“NDE has been in existence since 1996, and is established by law, and that was our reason for keeping the money in NDE to implement as an agency.
“NDE has six zonal offices and thirty seven state offices, including the FCT, and close to 700 local government representative officers across the country.
“They have staff strength of over 2,200, and therefore, NDE is primed to undertake such a project because it has the capacity. The Ministry of Labour at the headquarters has no such capacity.”
Meanwhile, the Senate president, Dr Ahmad Lawan ordered that every step taken so far in respect to the 774, 000 Local Government jobs remains null and void thereby, called for a fresh start.