The Senate on Monday adopt a closed session when a Senator representing Abia Central Senatorial District, Darlington Nwokocha, moved a motion for the suspension of the ministerial screening of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Festus Keyamo.
Nwokocha’s motion was seconded by his colleague from Abia-South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, thereafter subjected the motion to a voice vote but the lawmakers were divided on the matter.
The red chamber immediately erupted into a rowdy session. Amid heated argument between the lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, called for a closed-door session.
A visibly worried Akpabio rose to his feet and announced that the Senate would enter a closed session.
Nwokocha had accused Keyamo of disrespecting the 9th National Assembly and accusing the last Assembly of being corrupt.
Keyamo was a former Minister of State for Labour and Productivity under the then administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nwokocha said during the Buhari administration, Keyamo was invited to explain a Special Public Works programme but he didn’t honour the invitation.
The Special Public Works programme was coordinated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) which was directly under the ministry Keyamo supervised.
The Federal Government had in 2020 earmarked N52 billion for the programme to recruit 1,000 youths from each of the 774 local governments for three months and pay them N20,000 each.
There were, however, complaints over the programme as some constituents said they did not benefit from it.
The Senate Public Account Committee subsequently began a probe on the matter but Nwokocha claimed the then minister shunned the invitation by the committee, saying the Senate wanted to hijack the process.
Keyamo, from Delta State, was the last nominee out of President Bola Tinubu’s 48-man ministerial list to appear before the Senate. He appeared before the red chamber on Monday afternoon after another nominee, Mariya Mahmoud, a former Commissioner for Higher Education in Kano State.
Initially, Keyamo, 53, did not make the President’s first and second ministerial lists. However, in a dramatic twist of events, Tinubu removed Maryam Shetty, a ministerial nominee from Kano last Friday and replaced her with Keyamo and Mahmood.
Keyamo was a spokesperson for the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council during the February 25, 2023, electioneering process that produced the new administration.
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