Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate has resolved to take their case to President Muhammadu Buhari, following the flouting of their order that the planned recruitment by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity of 774,000 be suspended.
At a closed door session, yesterday, which lasted for over an hour, senators expressed anger that despite existing cordial relationship with the executive, they were not keeping their end of the deal.
It was further learnt that lawmakers decided to send an emissary to President Buhari to express their feelings and ask that the programme be put on hold.
They also resolved that the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, will take up the case.
Last week, Lawan said only the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and not the ministry could handle the recruitment.
President Muhammadu Buhari appointed the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo to supervise the exercise. When he appeared before a joint National Assembly Committee on Labour last week, Keyamo refused to respond to questions from lawmakers on how he intends to select beneficiaries of the programmme.
He also told lawmakers that they had no right to question the modalities to be adopted in the execution of the exercise. He had repeatedly claimed that lawmakers had no such constitutional powers to query him.
Following the altercation, the senate issued a statement, announcing the suspension of the exercise. It said until necessary details sought by the lawmakers were provided, the programme will not continue.
On Tuesday, President Buhari reportedly gave Keyamo the nod to go ahead with the recruitment, despite the opposition from the Senate.
In another development, the Senate has called on the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to set up a committee to review the age limit for job seekers in the country to allow competent applicants to be employed by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs).
The call was made in a resolution which followed the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Ibrahim Gobir.
Coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, Gobir noted that recruitment requirements of MDAs and other private bodies which set age barriers “inadvertently excludes and marginalises skillful and competent prospective applicants from participating in such exercises.”
Said Gobir: “Due to the high unemployment rate in the country, many graduates spend up to 10 years seeking employment and this puts them in a disadvantaged position by no fault of theirs. Many individuals resort to falsifying their age all in a bid to fall within the required age limit for them to be gainfully employed.”
He warned that “this development, where a person believes he is unemployable can lead them to embracing criminal activities and further increase the growing crime rate and insecurity in the country.” Bala Ibn Na’Allah, in his contribution drew the attention of the upper chamber to the Federal Government’s embargo on employment over 13 years ago.
According to him, the embargo period must be factored into the review of age limit by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity for prospective job seekers in the country.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan bemoaned the discrimination against job seekers as a result of the barrier imposed by the prescribed age limit.