At last, Senate screens Keyamo after apologising - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Monday, August 7, 2023

At last, Senate screens Keyamo after apologising

The Senate has finally screened the immediate  past Minister  of State, Labour  and  Employment and a Ministerial  nominee  from Delta State, Festus Keyamo, SAN, after hours of grandstanding and moves to stop his screening.

The Senate had dissolved to closed session which lasted about three hours following a motion by the Deputy Minority Leader, Darlington Nwokocha, LP, Abia  Central and Enyinnaya Abaribe,  APGA, Abia South  to step down Kayamo's screening.

The Senate  that was earlier thrown into a rowdy session with the lawmakers sharply divided over whether to suspend  the screening of Keyamo or not, returned after break that lasted for three hours, was at the end of the screened and asked to take a bow and go.

He apologised to the Senate and explained that the list of the beneficiaries of the N52bn Public Works scheme was available for scrutiny.

Before he was asked to take a leave  of the Senate and Go, Keyamo apologised to the Senate and was then asked to go and sin no more.

The Senate  at the commencement  of yesterday 's screening, first attended to the former Commissioner  for Higher  Educationm Kano State during Governor  Umar Ganduje,  Dr. Mariya Mahmoud  Bunkure, with Keyamo  as the second and last nominee  for the screening  exercise. 

After  the three hours break, Keyamo apologised to the Senators, thereafter, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, SDP, North  said that since the nominee  apologised, the Senate should forgive him and ask him to sin no more,

The President  of the Senate,  Senator  Godswill  Akpabio  then asked that a proper motion be moved to that effect and the Senate  Chief  Whip,  Senator  Ali  Ndume,  APC, Borno  moved the motion that Keyamo be forgiven and seconded by Barinada Mpigi, PDP, Rivers  South  East.

Senator  Jarigbe  Agom Jarigbe,  PDP,  Cross River North moved that Keyamo be  allowed to take a leave of the Senate  and he was then asked to take a bow and go.

Earlier,  there was sharp  division among the Senators and q rowdy session on Monday during  the screening  of former  Minister  of  state,  Labour  and the Ministerial  Nominee from  Delta State,  Festus  Keyamo,  SAN.

Trouble started soon after the nominee  introduced  himself  and read his resume, just as he told the Senate that he fought for the right of the senate and  that he went to court and won a case to have the Upper  Chamber confirm the appointment of service chiefs, when the Deputy  Minority  Leader, Senator  Darlington  Nwokocha,  LP,  Abia  Central  rose at 1.37pm to raise a point of Order.

Nwokocha's point of order was with regard to a matter in 2020 about the public works programme where the sum of 20 thousand Naira was appropriated to one thousand Nigerians in every local government area in the country.

Nwokacha who cited section 88( 1b) of the 1999  constitution  as amended, just as he reminded  Keyamo of accusing the  National Assembly of being corrupt and wanted to hijack the process of disbursement of N 52 billion, said, "Subject to the provisions of this constitution each House of the National Aseembly shall have power by resolution publish in its journal or in the official gazette of the Governme t of the Federaltion to direct or cause to be directed investigation into any matter or thing to which it has power to make laws

b) the conduct of the affairs of any person authority, ministry or government depatment charged or intended to be charged with the duty of or responsibility for Executive administering laws enacted by the National Assembly and disbursing or administering money said to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

"I am aware that this National Aseembly and this arm, the Senate, has three main mandate, One, lawmaking, oversight and representation. I know that what we are doing today is a continuation of what we did yesterday and I am happy to have the nominee here present and here it is a wonderful thing that he used the instrumentality of law which he is part and parcel of to advance the course of Justice and I know as well that this House or Senate usually used the instrumentality of legislature to advance the course of fairness.

" I  want to bring to the notice because I have been a two term member of the House of Assembly, two time Representatives member and today I am a senator

I was in the 8th Assembly in the House of Representatives and the 9th Assembly and today I am here and I know that our role book does not in any way exclude the continuation of free.

"I want to bring to the notice of this house an issue that came up 2020 and that issue was the public works program which we all welcomed with opened hands because it is something that will help our people. Today we are talking about paying N8000 to people to alleviate poverty. Then It was the amount of N20000 to 1000 persons across the 774 Local Government which my local government is part of and I am sure your own local Government also. 1000 persons for each Local Government, N20000 each have a great multiplier effect that would have led our people out of poverty. What really happened? 

"At a point we thought it was our responsibility because if some people can use the instrumentality of law which they found themselves within their confines to advance for all their Justices cannot we use the instrumentality of the legislature to support our people and the populace which we represent. At that point being a subject of controversy and public debate which we wanted to know and possibly give him fare hearing about what happened to our constituents so we invited him to come and tell us, what is the structure? What are the indices for carrying out this because our people are on our necks.

" When he was invited, what we are talking about is a N52b appropriated by the National Assembly and the right of appropriation resides on the legislature. That is our right, the right of oversighting resides with us, whatever thing we are appropriating it is our right and when he was invited he expressly told the public that we want to highjack his role, he blackmailed us that we are corrupt that we wanted to highjack his role.

" I know that he midwife the process nobody is against that and it fell within his own area of operation junior minister for Lqbour and Employment. Not only that when he was asked which indices, he went to the public to say that 'they are not from the moon' because we were talking about what will help our people anything outside that I will walk our from the chamber.

" The interest of everybody is our people and we are here not whatever anyperson is saying and today, we need to find out. Nobody is stopping him from being cleared. The Preseident has sent in so many people, great people here who passed through the screening, wonderful people that are ready to work in the system not on the grounds of putting something under the table, not granting people fair hearing. He has been running away from it. This thing has been subject of debate, what happened to the N52b. He is here and it was our responsibility to find out.

"I am of the opinion so strongly that he has to tell us what happened but not here, we have to step it down a little bit then we can reconvene, because we would not like what happened at the last administration when some people thought that the President was in charge and so many things were happening down there, we would not take it this time around, we want a situation we tackle it from the onset since the President should not follow that line."

According to Nwokocha, Keyamo was invited to explain what happened in terms of the criteria for selecting the beneficiaries and the disbursement of the 52 billion, he told the Senate then that  the National Assembly is corrupt and wanted to hijack the process.

 The  furious Senator Nwokocha insisted  that the Senate will not tolerate a situation where government  appointees are not held accountable and he  moves a motion saying the screening of Keyamo should be stepped down.

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe,  APGA, Abia South seconded the motion, saying  that the nominee rejected the summons of the Senate and House of  Representatives on the public works programme, just  as he supported that the screening of Keyamo be stepped down pending when he decides that the National Assembly has the rights to inquire about the working of a minister.

At 1.50 pm, the Senate is thrown into a rowdy session.

At this point,  the  President  of  the  Senate, Senator  Godswill  Akpabio then  put the question to voice vote, he did not rule and the session became  rowdy as some lawmakers called  for a division.

 Senator Akpabio was reluctant to agree for a division( a division means each Senator voting individually).

The Senate at the moment entered  into a closed door session that lasted ten minutes and thereafter rushed to the villa to meet with President  Bola  Tinubu  who was said to have saved Keyamo  from being dropped.

The Majority Leader Senator  Opeyemi Bamidelem APC, Ekiti  Central called for a closed door session and seconded  by the Minority  Leader,  Senator  Simon  Davou  Mwadkwon, PDP, Plateau North. 

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