In a rare show of courage, outgoing Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, on Wednesday, said the office of Minister of State was an aberration and unconstitutional.
He lamented that most of his colleagues were redundant in the last eight years but many have not had the courage to speak up.
Keyamo read this in his speech at the valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Buhari to mark the end of the administration.
Keyamo, who is a key player in the ruling All Progressive Congress, seized the valedictory session to thank President Buhari for enriching his curriculum vitae through the appointment.
Lamenting the situation further, he revealed that some other Ministers of State, have been grumbling but mum on the issue.
According to Keyamo, it was difficult to assess the individual performances of the ministers of state since their discretion was shackled under the senior ministers.
He decried that original ideas developed by a minister of state are usually subjected to clearance by another colleague in Cabinet before they can sail through for consideration by Council.
The prepared text he read out reads: “Mr. President, you first appointed me as Minister of State in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in August, 2019 and you later redeployed me as Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“I cannot find the words to express the depth of my gratitude to you for finding me worthy, out of over two hundred million Nigerians, to be nominated and subsequently appointed to serve as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. My curriculum vitae has been greatly enhanced – forever.
“From my very humble beginnings in a small dusty town in Delta State where I was born and raised by my struggling parents, all the way to the Council Chambers at the Presidential Villa where I had the honour and privilege to participate weekly in decision-making for my country in the last four years, it has been like a fairy tale. I give God all the glory.
“What I am about to say, therefore, is not and should not be construed as an indication of ingratitude. Far from it. What I am about to say is just my own little contribution to our constitutional development as a relatively young democracy and to aid future governments to optimize the performance of those they appoint as ministers.
“Mr. President, the concept or designation of “Minister of State” is a constitutional aberration and is practically not working for many so appointed. Successive governments have come and gone and many who were appointed as Ministers of State have not spoken out at a forum such as this because of the risk of sounding ungrateful to the presidents who appointed them. However, like I said earlier, this is not ingratitude.
“As a private citizen, I am on record to have gone to court a number of times to challenge unconstitutional acts of governments for the sake of advancing our constitutional democracy, so it will be out of character for me to have gone through government and be carried away by the pomp of public office and forget my role as a member of the Inner Bar and my self-imposed role over the years as a crusader for democracy and constitutionalism”.