Senate Overcomes Controversy to Screen Festus Keyamo as Ministerial Nominee

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Senate Overcomes Controversy to Screen Festus Keyamo as Ministerial Nominee
Senate Clears Festus Keyamo for Ministerial Role

After a tense session marked by disputes and a move to halt the screening of Festus Keyamo, SAN, the immediate past Minister of State, Labour and Employment, and a ministerial nominee from Delta State, the Nigerian Senate eventually proceeded to screen and approve him.

The Senate had initially entered into a closed session lasting around three hours, in response to a motion put forth by Deputy Minority Leader Darlington Nwokocha of the Liberal Party, representing Abia Central, and Enyinnaya Abaribe of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), representing Abia South. The motion sought to defer Keyamo’s screening.

Following this closed-door deliberation, the Senate emerged from a three-hour break and Keyamo was eventually screened. He was granted the privilege of taking a bow and exiting the chamber.

This development came after Keyamo extended his apologies to the Senate and provided clarification regarding the list of beneficiaries of the N52 billion Public Works scheme, assuring its availability for scrutiny.

Keyamo, who had been a prominent legal figure, was subsequently given the opportunity to proceed without further repercussions. Senate President Godswill Akpabio initiated a motion for Keyamo’s exoneration, which was endorsed by Senator Ali Ndume of the All Progressives Congress (APC), representing Borno, and seconded by Barinada Mpigi of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), representing Rivers South East.

The session witnessed a division among senators, leading to a chaotic atmosphere before Keyamo’s eventual screening. The discord began after Keyamo introduced himself and presented his resume. He emphasized his past efforts in advocating for the rights of the Senate and highlighted his successful legal battle that compelled the Upper Chamber to confirm the appointment of service chiefs.

Senator Nwokocha raised a point of order during this discourse, referencing an incident from 2020 involving the public works program, where a sum of N20,000 was allocated to 1,000 individuals in each local government across the nation. Citing section 88(1b) of the 1999 constitution, Nwokocha reminded Keyamo of his previous accusations against the National Assembly, alleging corruption and an attempt to control the disbursement of N52 billion.

Nwokocha stated, “Each house of the National Assembly shall have powers by resolution to publish in its journal or in the official gazette… to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into any matter… to which it has power to make laws.”

Senators Nwokocha and Abaribe voiced their concerns, contending that Keyamo had previously disregarded the summons of both the Senate and the House of Representatives in relation to the public works program. This disagreement led to a rowdy session, prompting Senate President Akpabio to call for a voice vote.

A closed-door session lasting ten minutes ensued, and Akpabio later visited President Bola Tinubu for an undisclosed discussion. It is believed that the conversation pertained to the opposition senators’ demands for Keyamo to provide explanations concerning the handling of the government’s social works initiative during the 9th Senate.

In response to his nomination, Keyamo expressed gratitude to President Bola Tinubu, crediting him for the unexpected opportunity. Keyamo stated, “My appearance here today can only be by the grace of God and by the special benevolence of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.” He recounted his initial disbelief upon learning of his nomination, having already made arrangements for a vacation.

Keyamo’s screening ultimately proceeded amidst the turbulence, signaling a resolution to the Senate’s internal conflicts over his nomination.

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