Ministerial screening: How Tinubu saved Keyamo from Senate’s axe
The minister-designate from Delta State, Festus Keyamo, would have been totally rejected by the Senate on Monday, but for the swift intervention of President Bola Tinubu when he met with the leadership of the Red Chamber.
This was even as the former Minister of Labour and Employment apologised to senators for disrespecting the 9th National Assembly members over the Special Public Works, SPW programme under the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, during the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
To pave the way for Keyamo’s clearance, the Senate President led some lawmakers, including the Majority Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele to the Aso Villa to see Tinubu over the development.
Keyamo was accused of disrespecting the National Assembly members over the implementation of the SPW in the 774,000 local government areas of the country and of being corrupt when he was summoned to give an explanation on the implementation of the programme.
The Senate had witnessed a rowdy session after the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Darlington Nwokocha (LP Abia Central) raised issues against Keyamo when he appeared for screening as a ministerial nominee
The sum of N52 billion was allocated for the SPW programme, which was coordinated by the NDE under the supervision of the Minister of State for Labour and Employment.
The programme was targeted at employing 1,000 unskilled youths in each of the 774 local government areas for three months across the country.
The beneficiaries were expected to engage in public service works and receive a monthly stipend of N20,000 for three months.
But Senator Nwokocha drew the attention of the Senate to how Keyamo ignored the National Assembly when he asked to give explanation on the implementation of the programme.
He, therefore, moved a motion that the Senate suspend the screening of Keyamo pending his full explanation of how he handled and disbursed the N52 billion.
His motion was seconded by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA Abia South).
Akpabio thereafter subjected the motion to a voice vote, but the legislators were divided on the matter and the floor of the Senate went into an uncontrollable uproar.
The chamber became so rowdy that the Senate President had to stand on his feet to calm the fraying nerves.
He endorsed the point of order from Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, asking the Red Chamber to go into closed session to resolve the matter.
Speaking after the Senate resumed from a closed-door session that lasted for over three hours, Keyamo said: “I apologise and the apology is without reservation.”
He said the entire register of the “beneficiaries of the Special Public Works and their details, including their account number and BVNs are with the NDE.”
Rising, Senator Godiya Akwashiki (SDP Nasarawa South) urged his colleagues to accept Keyamo’s apology.
Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), therefore, moved a motion that the Senate do accept the apology and allow him to take a bow and go, which was seconded by Senator Barinada Mpigi (PDP Rivers West).
The Senate President later asked the nominee to take a bow and go.