…as House of Reps hails Buhari for National school feeding programme
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday assured Nigerians that the leadership of the House had commenced moves to resolve the face-off between the National Assembly and
the Minister for State of Labour and Employment Mr Festus Keyamo.
Both had ooenly taken on each other on the planned recruitment of 774,000 Nigerian youths by the Federal Government in its ambitious public works programme.
Gbajabiamila made a whistlestop appearance at the Public Accounts Committee public hearing where he hinted that the disagreement would be peacefully resolved within the next 24 hours.
The Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Wole Oke hosted the Statistician General of the Federation, Yemi Kale, who was before the committee to shed more light on the data being used in ascertaining the beneficiaries of the federal government National school Feeding programme since its introduction by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Gbajabiamila urged the Committee to carry on without minding his presence, saying that he only stopped by to observe proceedings.
He condemned what transpired between the Natiknal Assembly and the Minister State for Labour, Productivity and Employment Mr Keyamo at the Senate of the Assembly complex on Monday.
According to him, “I’m only here to observe proceedings and nothing more; so, just carry on and forget about my presence.
“As you all know, the Committee on Public Accounts is the only Committee recognized by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; so, you are all welcome.
“But again, we have to make sure that what happened Monday in the Senate does not repeat here
“It is unfortunate that the National Assembly is not allowed to operate as it should. However, I want to assure you that the matter will be resolved within the next 24 hours”
The Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Labour had invited Keyamo to give details of the Special Public Works Programme where 774,000 unemployed Youths would be recruited by the Federal Government under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
During the hearing, the Committee sought to find out the method of selection of a 20-man committee from each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, for the programme.
However, a heated argument had ensued between the law makers and the Minister over who should lead the programme which was to be domiciled in the NDE.
The meeting had become rowdy necessitating the Committee to go into a closed-door session to discuss the matter
On his part, the Minister had insisted that further discussions be held in the presence of journalists.
Enraged, the lawmakers demanded an apology from the minister which he rejected, stood up, took a bow (thrice) and stormed out of the meeting venue.
The Committee, on the same occasion and while meeting minds with Statisyician General of the Federation lauded President Muhamadu Buhari administration for the introduction of the
National School Feeding Programme in the nation’s puplic Primary schools
The Chairman of the Committee, however, said that the programme was being reviewed by the National Assembly to ensure it is not being mismanaged by its operators.
According to him, “the Nayiobal Assembly is commending the President for the introduction of the laudable programme in the schools, but we the law makers are receiving its operations to ensure value for money being budgeted it, we don’t want the programme to be mismanaged”.
Consiquently the Committee directed the National Bureau of Statistics NBS to provide the head count of pupils and other beneficiaries of the National Food Programme, the precursor to the school feeding programme of the federal government
The House Committee also demanded a proper pre-qualification of all the food vendors for the school feeding programme in accordance with the Public Procurement Act to safeguard the lives of the pupil’s and other citizens.
The Committee questioned the Statistician-General of the Federation on the unverifable data used for the feeding of the pupils since inception.
The Committee then demanded that the data from the state offices of the NBS for the school feeding programme be made available to guide members in the course of the ongoing investigation
However, in his response the Statistician-General assured the Committee that the Agency would do the requested headcount and get the list of public and private school pupils who benefited from the feeding programme.