The Senate, on Wednesday, considered a bill seeking to provide for the position of a substantive Chairman on the board of the Nigerian Directorate of Employment (NDE).
The Bill which scaled second reading, according to its sponsor, Senator Kabir Abdullahi Barkiyya (APC, Katsina Central), 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.”
Leading debate on the Nigerian Directorate of Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Barkiyya said since its establishment in 1986, the Nigerian Directorate of Employment has provided a platform for young entrepreneurs and even the elderly population to learn a vocation and become financially independent.
“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 nationwide institution whose impact is felt by every sector,” he said.
According to the lawmaker, 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 clearing house 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 added categorically 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 direct impact on the unemployed.
He said: “For an agency with direct impact on the unemployed Labor force, check and balances require 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 own 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 and 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.”
The bill after scaling second reading was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Employment, Labour, and Productivity to report back wishing four (4) weeks.