Opinions

Jobs fiasco: NASS right over hearing mode, Keyamo outburst a necessary evil by Sesugh Akume

I first read Festus Keyamo, the state minister for employment, labour and productivity’s press release on his altercation with the joint National Assembly committee overseeing his ministry. I think its a piece of ignorant trash and he’s playing to the gallery. I also watched his interview after the altercation, and snippets of what had transpired during the meeting.

I also think the quack, overbearing NASS members were put in their place, albeit through sophistry, and can’t win this one in the court of public opinion being smartly played by Keyamo who has survived by these tricks all his life.

There’s a useless programme the Buhari regime plans to waste money on pretending to be employing 774,000 Nigerian youth, 1,000 in each local government area. When Buhari and Osinbajo were running for office in 2015, they promised (lied) to create 3 million jobs EVERY year. That’s at least 12 million jobs in 4 years. Rather than create jobs, people lost the ones they had. Then they came up with a palliative scheme called N-Power that was paying people N30k a month. N-Power isn’t a real job, as it has no career track, no promotion on the job, not even pay increase, no pension scheme, no gratuity, no guarantees, nothing. This new one is the same thing.

I don’t know any local government that employs 1,000 people. I don’t know what local governments do in Nigeria at aĺl. I don’t know how this one is going to be sustainable after the money pumped into it is gone.

The long and short of the face-off is, NASS members have slots to provide names of ‘beneficiaries’, they have a percentage of enrollees gifted to them. They’re not satisfied and want more or all. They want to control every name on the lists from all the 774 local government areas so says Keyamo. He thinks that’s asking for too much. He says he can’t allow the programme to be compromised. Something that is already compromised by sharing slots to NASS members and others? He said so himself in the interview I watched. He said within a certain percentage, of sharing the slots, yes, but beyond that no. And he wasn’t going to discuss that in-camera. It had to be in the open, he said.

Keyamo said section 88 of the Constitution gives NASS the powers to investigate, true but he wouldn’t hold a meeting with them in-camera, it has to be before the media in the full media glare. He claims how can an investigation on corruption be done behind closed doors?

With respect to the learned silk, he has no right to determine this. Were the dummy NASS members not emotional, and given to professionalism, they’d have calmly asked him to show them where the Constitution says committee work has to be before the cameras. To be sure, not only section 88 which he referred to in his press release, but sections 89 and 62 are clear on this. They can choose to engage anyone any where. They’re also bound by their rules. But they didn’t know this or forgot in the heat of the shouting match.

It’s why we need people whose thinking faculties are in place, and who hire aides smarter than them to always be around to guide them. What I’ve said here is what any smart aide would simply jot on a piece of paper slip to their principal. It’d disarm any dramatist. But no.

Clearly, they aren’t interested in reason and logic, they want to intimidate and browbeat everybody. Sorry, it didn’t work this time. They asked Festus to apologise. He asked, ‘apologise for what? For saying they have no right to hold a hearing in camera?’ But truly, apologise for what? Even if his view is wrong, he’s entitled to it. It’s for thrm to correct it and disarm him. He didn’t insult them, so he should apologise for disagreeing with them? What nonsense!

NASS appropriated the money for this useless scheme. Their oversight covers all aspects of it from conception to execution till its winding down. What Keyamo says about NASS not having the authority to oversee the process and calls it ‘directing’ is all part of the drama.

NASS is notorious for these shenanigans, and in this particular instance not on the side of truth and justice. It’s easy to be defeated when in such a position. Especially when already with a bad record. Not as if Festus is any different.

They will all eventually settle. We know how the game is played. What citizens need to agree on is, it wrong and abnormal for NASS or whoever to be allotted job slots or any slots at all. Does it mean we who don’t have godfathers have no stake in this country? We also need to agree that these nonsense schemes for wasting money aren’t helping. We need an economy that’s functional, functioning so that jobs and wealth are created sustainably. Where value is created and exchanged for money. In this setting there can be productivity and competition. This will naturally create needed hands for the work available to be done. Value chains will also come out of this. Not these hand-me-down schemes with no future in them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sesugh Akume is a politician and former Spokesman, #BringBackOurGirls movement. He writes from Abuja.

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