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Ministerial screening: Uproar as Senators oppose Keyamo’s screening over his disrespect on Parliament

…Senators sharply disagree, as Opeyemi Bamidele called for close door

Keyamo's Ministerial screening
Keyamo's Ministerial screening

There was uproar and division in the Senate on Monday, over the nomination of former Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo.

The Senators were sharply divided over his appearance as some moved that his screening should be stepped down pending when he clarified his past role in government, when he refused to abide by resolutions of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Keyamo, a nominee from Delta State, who appeared in the Senate at around 1:30pm, after introducing himself, a point of order came from the Senate Deputy minority whip, Darlington Nwokocha on the need to defer the nominee’s screening.

Keyamo, who had praised the Senators, said that he had already given up on being a minister but at the last minutes on Friday, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu submitted his name to the apex Assembly for confirmation.

“I have already given up, packed my bags to travel for a vacation with my family before my name was announced on Friday,” Keyamo said while acknowledging the fact that he had issues with Senator Godiya Akwashiki (Nasarawa) in the last Assembly but that they are now good friends.

Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central) raised a point of order under Order 88 of the Constitution, pointing out that Keyamo’s nomination should be stepped down because he refused to honour the National Assembly’s invitations in the 9th Assembly on the ground that he was not answerable to them.

He said: “Sometime in 2020, the issue of the public works programme came up with 20,000 to be given to 1000 people in the 777 local government.

“At a point, we wanted to carry out our responsibility, because we make laws to help the people and we also have the power of oversight.

“The nominee was invited over the N52 billion we appropriated. He publicly told all the people that the lawmakers want to hijack the process.

“Since he has been running away from here, he is here, it is our responsibility to find out,” Darlington said while moving that Keyamo’s nomination should be put on hold.

Supporting the motion, raised by Sen by Nwokocha, Sen Eyinnaya Abaribe (APGA Abia South), stated that by virtue of Section 88 (b) of the Constitution, they should suspend his screening.

Abaribe said that anyone who deliberately rejected the summons of both chambers of the National Assembly, should know that there are implications for it.

“I support that the screening of this nominee should be stepped down pending when he decides that the national assembly has the power to inquire from a minister.

When the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, put the matter to a vote, there were conflicting voices, even though the yes had more reverberating impact.

This resulted in the chamber turning rancorous for minutes before Akpabio rose and addressed his colleagues, stating that Keyamo was not a nominee of the Senate but that of the President.

He asked the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, to speak on the matter but the leader instead called for an executive session, to enable members find amicable resolution to the contentious nomination.

Also, Opeyemi moved for the extension of their sitting time from 2pm, to enable the Chamber capture and exhaust all that were in the Order Paper.

It was seconded by the minority leader and the Senate Leader also moved for a closed session that to determine Keyamo’s fate and it was seconded by the minority leader.

As at the time of filing this report, the Senate is now is closed session to thoroughly deliberate the issue of Keyamo.

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