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Senate in Rowdy Session, Steps Down Keyamo’s Screening

Senator Darlington Nwokocha of Abia Central Senatorial District has stirred controversy in the Senate by moving a motion to suspend the ministerial screening of Festus Keyamo, a ministerial nominee from Delta State. The motion was seconded by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe from Abia-South Senatorial District.

As the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, subjected the motion to a voice vote, lawmakers were divided on the matter, leading to a heated argument and a rowdy session in the red chamber. In response to the commotion, Akpabio called for the Senate to enter a closed session.

Nwokocha accused Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former Minister of State for Labour and Productivity under the previous administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, of disrespecting the 9th National Assembly and making allegations of corruption against the previous Assembly.

The senator highlighted that during the Buhari administration, Keyamo was invited to explain the Special Public Works program, which was coordinated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) under the ministry Keyamo supervised. However, Keyamo did not honor the invitation, leading to complaints from constituents who claimed they did not benefit from the program.

Following the point of order, the Senate chamber became rowdy for more than 10 minutes while the nominee stood

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, had to stand up to restore normalcy into the chamber.

He quickly called the Senators to order, saying based on the rule of the Senate, whenever the Senate President stands up, any Senator or Committee would have to remain silent.

When the matter was degenerating, Akpabio beckoned on the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele to “lead the House.”

Senator Bamidele however moved two motions, first for the Senate to extend the time for the Senate sitting beyond 2 pm and the second session to dissolve into an executive or closed door session.

The motions were scaled through while the screening of Keyamo was deferred.

Akpabio said the Senate now resolved to go into a closed door session “to iron out an issue of national concerns.”

In 2020, the Federal Government earmarked N52 billion for the Special Public Works program to recruit 1,000 youths from each of the 774 local governments, providing them with three months of employment and paying them N20,000 each.

Subsequently, the Senate Public Account Committee initiated a probe into the matter, but the then minister declined the committee’s invitation, further exacerbating tensions in the ongoing ministerial screening process.

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