Keyamo’s ministerial screening splits senators

The Senate on Monday, witnessed a rowdy session over the screening of a ministerial nominee, Festus Keyamo.

Keyamo, a minister of State for Labour and Employment under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, appeared before the Senate to be screened for a new position under President Bola Tinubu.

However, events turned sour when Darlington Nwokocha ( LP, Abia Central), moved the motion requesting the suspension of the nominee’s screening.

Nwokocha reminded Keyamo of how he insulted the lawmakers from both chambers during his tenure as a minister.

He also brought to the fore corruption charges levelled against the nominee and how he ignored the National Assembly summons in 2020 over the employment scheme of 774,000 Nigerians recruited for the special public works programme.

Senator Nwokocha then said, “I move that we suspend forthwith screening of the nomination and wait until when this is cleared.”

The motion was thereafter seconded by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, ( APGA, Abia South).

Having been seconded, the Senate President, GodsWill Akpabio, put the motion to a voice vote after the first, and this time, the lawmakers responded in a disorderly manner, collectively shouting “no” and “yes”.

This argument made some lawmakers call for division, a decision which once taken might water down the power of the Senate President.

The division is a parliamentary term that means that lawmakers physically take sides with any of the votes either in favour of Yay or Nay.

The Senate President who was visibly troubled, then stood up and called for order.

According to the Senate Standing Orders, when the Senate President stands, every other lawmaker must sit.

Having restored order in the house, Akpabio called for a closed-door session and the lawmakers have since adjourned the plenary till 3:30 pm.

In April, 2020, the Federal Government approved the recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians on a special public works programme, with the mandate of 1000 people per LGA, a programme implemented by the National Directorate of Employment as part of the fiscal stimulus measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project led to a brawl between Keyamo and the National Assembly as he was forced to leave the Senate after he refused to settle the issue behind closed doors when he appeared at the Red Chamber in June of the same year.

The lawmakers alleged that their constituents did not benefit from the scheme.

However, Keyamo responded by accusing the lawmakers of trying to blackmail him and hijack the SPW exercise, adding that the “beneficiaries are not from the moon.”

This and other infractions allegedly committed by Keyamo during his time as minister of State for Labour and Employment have been a major cause of friction between the nominee and the lawmakers.


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