The Senate on Monday, witnessed a raucous session over the screening of a ministerial nominee, Festus Keyamo.
Keyamo, a former Minister of State for Labour and Employment in former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, appeared before the Senate to be considered for a new position under President Bola Tinubu.
However, things turned ugly when Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central) requested to suspend the nominee’s vetting.
Nwokocha reminded Keyamo of how he disrespected both chambers of parliament during his time as a minister.
He also brought to light the nominee’s corruption charges, as well as how he disobeyed the National Assembly summons in 2020 about the employment scheme of 774,000 Nigerians hired for the special public works programme.
Senator Nwokocha then stated, “I move that we suspend screening of the nomination immediately and wait until this is cleared.”
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA, Abia South) then seconded the resolution.
After being seconded, Senate President GodsWill Akpabio put the move to a voice vote, and the members responded in a riotous fashion, simultaneously shouting “no” and “yes”
This argument prompted some lawmakers to advocate for division, a choice that, if implemented, might limit the Senate President’s power.
The division is a legislative phrase that signifies parliamentarians physically take sides with any of the votes in favour of Yay or Nay.
The Senate President, apparently distressed, then stood up and appealed for order.
When the Senate President stands, every other legislator must sit, according to Senate Standing Orders.
After restoring order in the house, Akpabio asked for a closed-door session, and the MPs have now postponed the plenary till 3:30 p.m.
Recall, the Federal Government approved the recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians on a special public works programme, with a mandate of 1000 people per LGA, in April 2020, as part of the fiscal stimulus measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The idea sparked a fight between Keyamo and the National Assembly, and he was forced to resign from the Senate after refusing to settle the issue behind closed doors when he appeared in the Red Chamber in June of that year.
The legislators said that the programme did not help their constituents.
However, Keyamo responded by accusing the parliamentarians of attempting to blackmail him and hijack the SPW exercise, saying that the “beneficiaries are not from the moon.”
This, along with other alleged breaches committed by Keyamo while serving as Minister of State for Labour and Employment, has been a major source of contention between the nominee and parliamentarians.