The National Assembly has halted President Muhammadu Buhari’s planned employment of Nigerians in the Special Public Works Programme 2020 and asked him to seek redress in a law court if he feels the legislators are being nosy.

The suspension of the scheme followed after the minister of state for labour and productivity, Festus Keyamo engaged in a heated exchange with the legislators over the modalities of the program.

According to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun Central), the implementation of the programme shall be on hold, pending proper briefing of the National Assembly by the Minister of Labour and Productivity.

Senator Basiru said:

“If the President sees that his powers are being encroached, he can approach the court of law. It is as if this programme is an exclusively Presidential project.

“The conception of the programme, its approval and its funding is with the consideration of the National Assembly because we believe it is going to be beneficial for the purpose of addressing the challenges of COVID-19.

“On encroaching on the powers of the President, there is no exclusivity in terms of any programme that is to be implemented except National Assembly is not part of government.

“Government as defined by the 1999 Constitution, has three components — Legislative powers, Section 4, Executive powers, Section 5 and Judicial powers, Section 6. It is the totality of these that constitute government, so when you are saying government is doing a programme, it is not President Muhammadu Buhari that is doing the programme, it is the government of the people, implementation, appropriation and execution all rolled into one.

“There is no dichotomy as such, and there is no encroaching on the powers of the President. Assuming the National Assembly is opposed to the programme, we could have not approved it, you cannot appropriate, but we want to be sure that names don’t just fly.

“When journalists also raised issues about the humanitarian social register and the National Assembly intervened, there is more transparency to it.

“Our people will also ask questions. These 1,000 people, how were they generated? Who set up the selection committee? What are the modalities for recruitment? What are the minimum requirements for recruitment? It cannot be left to the whims of a person or a branch of government, it has to be a totality of the government, which is the executive and the legislative arms.”