By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Special Assistant on Public Communication to Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Phrank Shaibu has called on the National Assembly to publish a report of its investigation on the N52bn Special Works Programme implemented by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo.
Shaibu said this in a statement, while reacting to Keyamo’s acquisition of a house in the United States at the cost of over $300,000.
Recall that in 2021, the Federal Government had in a bid to ameliorate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, approved the sum of N52bn for the hiring of 774,000 Nigerians across all the local government areas in the country for three months.
The 774,000 Nigerians were hired to take on menial jobs such as clearing of drainages, sweeping of markets, cutting grass and other community services.
Keyamo had specifically orchestrated the sacking of the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), 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, therefore, questioned Keyamo’s running of the programme and promised to launch an investigation into the matter.
Reacting to Keyamo’s claim that he owns several houses in the US, Shaibu said: “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 US, I hereby call on the National Assembly to publish its report on the failed project. I also call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately probe the finances of Festus Keyamo, who only became a senior advocate two years before becoming a minister.
“It is public record that Keyamo was an activist and a prosecutor for the EFCC, doing mostly pro bono cases before taking public office. However, he now boasts of being a real estate mogul after becoming a minister. This is laughable and an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians.
“In any case, Keyamo’s time as minister of state for labour and employment witnessed the highest level of unemployment, which KPMG says is about to hit 40%. Under Keyamo, universities also witnessed prolonged strikes, as ASUU proceeded on 10 months strike in 2020 and eight months industrial action in 2021. Keyamo clearly failed as a minister but grew wealthier in the process through his so-called real estate business. He thus needs to be investigated with immediate effect.”
Keyamo had said that by letters dated March 6, 2019, before he was appointed a Minister, 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 further stated, “My assets declaration is there for all to see. Some of us don’t need government funds or patronage to get by. Whatever we do and whoever we support is out of our deep convictions.”
Reacting, however, Shaibu dared Keyamo to publish his asset declaration form as submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau in 2019.
He said since Keyamo had boasted many times about being an EFCC prosecutor and an anti-corruption champion, he ought to be bold enough to make his asset declaration forms public to prove that he was telling the truth.
Shaibu said, “Keyamo has one month left on his tenure as minister, which means he will need to declare his assets before the CCB next month. Let him make public his asset declaration forms, before and after office, to prove to Nigerians that he did not steal.
“The truth about Keyamo is that he is a hypocrite, a rabble-rouser who pretends to be on the side of the masses but is only after his stomach. He started as a disciple of the great Gani Fawehinmi but has since strayed from Gani’s ideals by serving as Spokesman for a man who was an anathema to Gani and who Gani had accused of forgery and fraud – Bola Tinubu.”