The show of shame this week, between some lawmakers and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, wherein they engaged themselves in a shouting bout at the joint committee of the two chambers of the National Assembly, regarding the recruitment of 774,000 workers by the Federal Government, has compelled a search, for the proper understanding of the difference between Apology and Kidology.
It would be recalled that, pursuant to an invitation by the lawmakers, Minister Keyamo appeared before a joint committee of the National Assembly, to shed light on the planned recruitment of citizens into the public works programme by the Federal Government. The result was an uproar, where Nigerians were openly entertained, through a classical show of shame, between the lawmakers and the Minister.
The project in question is an arrangement for the recruitment of 1,000 Nigerians from the 774 local government areas of the country, who would earn N20,000 each on a monthly basis for three months. The program is expected to take off in October this year, under a sharing formula that has given 15% slot to the Lawmakers, according to the Minister.
The drama started when members of the committee asked the DG of the NDE, to give an explanation on the composition of a 20-member committee per state, inaugurated on Monday by the ministry for the implementation of the planned recruitment. The DG disclosed that he was aware of only eight out of the 20-member committee, but referred them to the minister for further clarification.
At that juncture, the lawmakers publicly accused the minister of abusing due process in the appointment of additional 12 members of the states selection committee, against the eight persons said to be duly chosen earlier. They also want the minister to give the performance indicators of the project, and how it would succeed, but with a proviso. The proviso is that the minister must respond in private.
True to character, the Minister said he would not, an action that irked the lawmakers, to demand an apology from him. They insisted on the minister to tender an apology to them for the way he spoke, or else they would walk him out. Minister Keyamo refused and remained unruffled, alleging that the lawmakers, or some politicians, were trying to blackmail him over the recruitment exercise. He said he had done nothing against the procedures of the legislature, as such, he had no reason to apologize.
From then till now, the social media is trending with accolades on the Minister, for acting in tandem with public expectations, particularly his show of courage, in confronting the lawmakers.
However, the drama took a new twist yesterday, as the National Assembly asked the Executive to immediately put the exercise on hold.
Again Minister Keyamo said they have no such powers, “From what I have read, they are merely advising the President. They know they cannot challenge the powers of the President in terms of execution of policies, program and projects. They cannot order the stoppage, continuation and suspension of any policy and program properly appropriated for. The NASS, as distinguished as the members are, I’m sorry to say, there are clear limitations to their powers. They can only investigate the execution of those policies, program or projects for the purpose of exposing corruption. That is where their power ends. If they find any corruption, they can now pass the report of their investigation to the appropriate body, either the Police in case of a crime or the Presidency in case of breach of administrative procedure in respect of any appointee of the President for further action”
Knowingly or unknowingly, the lawmakers have put themselves at a disadvantaged and ridiculous position, as far as the public judgement of what transpired is concerned.
The minister is insisting that he was accused before the cameras, it would be absurd to demand that his response should be behind the cameras, more so, as the issue has to do with performance on something that is of public interest.
The Minister’s insistence came at a time the Minister of Information, Mr.Lai Mohammed, was conveying the directives of the President, that all MDAs, that is, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, should disregard any purported request from government officials seeking to confer undue advantage on anyone seeking such favours.
The lawmakers goofed, by calling for a closed-door meeting with someone like Festus Keyamo, a firebrand lawyer and Human Rights activist, that has made a name in public crusades, particularly on campaigns against any public evil. It would be hard for the public to believe the closed-door meeting was not meant to strike deals. Their action, even if innocently intended, is capable of attracting a question mark.
The Longman dictionary defines Kidology as, a way of making someone believe something that is not true, which you do as a joke or to achieve something.
Me thinks what the lawmakers did conforms with that dictionary definition of the word Kidology. In which case, the expected apology should come in the reverse, please.
Bala Ibrahim, a Media Advisor writes from Kano