The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, on Tuesday apologised to the National Assembly over the altercations between his Junior Minister, Festus Keyamo, and members of the National Assembly joint Committees on Labour over the 774,000 Special Public Works of the Federal Government.
Ngige tendered the apology at a meeting with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and members of the National Assembly joint Committees on Labour.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that members of the National Assembly had on June 30 walked out Keyamo during an investigative hearing over the 774,000 jobs offer of the Federal Government.
Ngige said: “We deeply regret the incident that happened at the last visit, the altercations that followed it between my Minister of State and members of the joint committees.
“Therefore, we decided that as a team, we will come in force and give you the necessary information that you will need so that we can fast track this programme.
“My minister of State has put out a position paper.
“That position paper, nothing is sacrosanct there.
“We can still discuss and agree after disagreeing.
“Therefore, Mr. Senate President, I apologise on behalf of the Ministry for what took place the last time.
“And I hope that this apology will be taken by the members of the committee and the entire National Assembly because I’m aware and I know that a committee is a representative of the whole.
“I therefore request that we forgive and forget.
“Let this turn a new page and start off on this programme.”
In his remarks, Lawan said the National Assembly had the mandate and jurisdiction to accept or reject executive request.
He said: “When Mr. President presented the request for the appropriation of N52 billion for the public works, the National Assembly committees scrutinised and recommended to the plenary of the two chambers.
“The same request, without any change, recommending the passage of N52 billion for Public Works.
“The National Assembly passed that request feeling convinced that this one programme that is needed in this country, especially at this time.
“Our people need some kind of support, especially the youth.
“So this is one programme we can even own in the National Assembly.
“How we wish we have more than N52 billion for this programme.
“But we are also conscious of one thing: who should implement the programme.”
Lawan further said the Ministry should have no role more than supervision of this programme.
He added: “And if the Ministry goes ahead, that means that the Ministry will be breaking the law because the budget is a law.
“We are not going to allow the Ministry headquarters to implement this programme at all.
“This National Assembly can support you very well, but it can stand tough if its will is tested.
“We want our committees to work with your Ministry to implement this programme.
“All previous actions are null and void.
“We don’t recognise them.
“You and your committee engage and start afresh.”