Phrank Shaibu, has called on the National Assembly to immediately publish a report of its investigation on the N52bn Special Works Programme executed by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo.
This call came against the backdrop of the revelation that the minister bought a house in the United States of America at a cost of over $300,000. In 2021, the Federal Government approved the sum of N52bn for the hiring of 774,000 Nigerians across the 774 Local Government Areas for a period of three months as a way of ameliorating the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 774,000 Nigerians were hired to take on menial jobs including clearing of drainages, sweeping of markets, cutting grass, and other community services.
According to Shaibu, Keyamo had orchestrated the sacking of the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment, Nasiru Argungu, insisting that he was in charge of the N52bn project which the National Assembly noted was a flop. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had stated that many of the beneficiaries of the funds did not get anything, while others who got did not do any job. They questioned Keyamo’s running of the programme and promised to launch an investigation into the matter.
Shaibu also noted that the National Assembly had described the special works programme as a sham and also questioned how the funds were spent. Keyamo had, for the last two years, defended the shambolic implementation of the programme.
With his open confession that he has acquired houses in the United States of America, Shaibu called on the National Assembly to publish its report on the failed project. He also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to immediately probe the finances of Festus Keyamo.
Shaibu accused Keyamo of failing as a minister but growing wealthier in the process through his so-called real estate business. Keyamo had boasted of being a real estate mogul after becoming a minister, which Shaibu described as laughable and an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians.
Under Keyamo, universities also witnessed prolonged strikes, as the Academic Staff Union of Universities proceeded on 10 months strike in 2020 and eight months of industrial action in 2021. KPMG, a global audit firm, also reported that the level of unemployment in the country was about to hit 40 per cent under Keyamo’s watch.
In his defense, the minister had said that before his appointment, he wrote to the relevant government agencies, informing them of the closure of his foreign accounts and the repatriation of his funds to the country since Nigerian law does not allow public officials to operate foreign bank accounts. He also said that his assets declaration is there for all to see and that he does not need government funds or patronage to get by.