THE Senate has begun moves to remove the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige as the Chairman, Board of the National Directorate of Employment, NDE. Against this backdrop, moves by the Senate to get a substantive Chairman for the board of NDE, got a boost yesterday as a bill seeking to provide for such a position, scaled second reading.
The bill after scaling second reading was referred by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Employment, Labour, and Productivity to report back wishing four (4) weeks.
According to the sponsor of a Bill for an Act to amend the National Directorate of Employment Act Cap N28 LafN 2004 and for other related matters therein, 2021( SB.605), Senator Kabir Abdullahi Barkiyya, All Progressives Congress, APC, Katsina Central, it intends to provide for the appointment of the substantive Chairman by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “who will take over the functions of presiding over the Board as presently carried out by the Minister of Labor as stipulated in the existing act.”
In his lead debate, Senator Barkiyya said that since its establishment in 1986, the NDE has provided a platform for young entrepreneurs and even the elderly population to learn a vocation and become financially independent.
He said, “The objective of the directorate as contained in the 1987 presidential budget speech was to concentrate its efforts on the re-activation of public works, promotion of seIf-employment, organization of artisans into co-operatives, and encouragement of a culture of maintenance and repairs. “It is on this premise that the programs of the directorate are based (NDE 2000; 2001). The directorate has since 1986 grown into a nationwide institution whose impact is felt by every sector.”
According to him, the NDE amendment bill seeks to, among other things, design and implement programmes to combat unemployment; articulate policies aimed at developing work programmes with labour-intensive potential; and collect and maintain a data bank on employment and vacancies in the country with a view to acting as a clearinghouse to link job seekers with existing vacancies in collaboration with other government agencies. Other functions of the Agency include: implementing policies as may be laid down from time to time by the board established under Section 3 of its enabling act; sustain economic development in Nigeria through job creation; and be a vehicle for economic development through combating unemployment in Nigeria.
According to Barkkiya, the Directorate consists of a National Advisory Council and Management Board which gives Guidelines for the management of the affairs of the Directorate. He said that “the Bill intends to provide for the position of a Chairman of the board to be appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who will take over the functions of presiding over the Board as presently carried out by the Minister of Labor as stipulated in the existing act.”
Advancing reasons for amendment in this direction, he emphasized that “Sections relating to the Minister as Chairman of the Board will be amended to provide for a substantive Chairman” so as to ensure the direct impact on the unemployed. “For an Agency with direct impact on the unemployed Labor force, check and balances requires that a Minister who supervises the board of an Agency under him cannot be the Chairman of the same Board. He can’t be supervising himself.
“The Agency is a creation of an Act, hence it has its own legal identity. The Minister as the head of the whole ministry can provide policy guidelines without being a member of the Board. The Chairman provides leadership to the Board and acts as a direct liaison between the Minister the Agency. “In our jurisdiction, Agencies have their own board and chairman, different and distinct from the Minister who is the head of the whole ministry. For example, FERMA, SMEDAN, NEXIM, CAC, FAAN, NPC etc.”