Senate suspends Festus Keyamo’s ministerial screening

Senate suspends Festus Keyamo’s ministerial screening. The Senate has been hit by controversy over the screening of Festus Keyamo, a ministerial nominee.

The controversy has led the Chamber to dissolve into executive session after the Senate leader, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi moved the motion

Before the pandemonium, the nominee was asked to address the Chamber to explain his profile and give reasons why he should be a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

After his address, Senator Darlington Nwokocha (Labour Party), representing Abia Central Senatorial District raised a point of Order.

He drew the attention of the Senate to some infractions by the Ministerial nominee against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when he was the Minister of State for Employment, Labour, and Productivity.

The Lawmaker explained how the nominee blocked the Reps Committee from carrying out its oversight function on the sum of N52 billion released to his Ministry.

Having explained this, he moved that the screening of Keyamo be stepped down in line with parliamentary rules.

Nwokocha’s motion was seconded by his colleague from Abia-South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio thereafter subjected the motion to a voice vote but the lawmakers were divided on the matter.

The red chamber immediately erupted into a rowdy session. Amid heated argument between the lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele called for a closed-door session.

A visibly worried Akpabio rose to his feet and announced that the Senate would enter a closed session.

An agitated Nwokocha had accused Keyamo of disrespecting the 9th National Assembly and accusing the last Assembly of being corrupt.

Nwokocha said during the Buhari administration, Keyamo was invited to explain a Special Public Works programme but he didn’t honour the invitation.

The programme was coordinated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) which was under the ministry Keyamo supervised.

The Federal Government had in 2020 earmarked N52 billion for the programme to recruit 1,000 youths from each of the 774 local governments for three months and pay them N20,000 each.

There were complaints over the programme as some constituents said they did not benefit from the programme.

The Senate Public Account Committee subsequently began a probe on the matter but Nwokocha claimed the then minister shunned the invitation by the committee, saying the Senate wanted to hijack the process of recruitment.

Keyamo was the last ministerial nominee of President Bola Tinubu’s 48-man list to appear before the Senate. He appeared after Mariya Mahmoud, a former Commissioner for Higher Education in Kano State.

Initially, Keyamo, 53, did not make President Bola Tinubu’s first and second ministerial lists. However, in a dramatic twist of events, the President removed Maryam Shetty, a ministerial nominee from Kano last Friday and replaced her with Keyamo and Mahmood.

Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was a former Minister of State for Labour and Productivity under the then administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari.

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