….Gives Two Weeks Ultimatum on Policy Guidelines
By Daniel Idonor
ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday inaugurated a 38-man cabinet with a vote of confidence on the new team, even as he issued a two-week ultimatum to come up with a blur print on quick-win project policies.
Speaking at the ceremony whyich was attended by a capacity crowd at the Aso Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Jonathan told the new cabinet members that he continually monitor them to ensure that they are made accountable for all their actions.
â€œAt the outset let me say clearly that I have confidence in this team, which I believe reflects the ambition of the Federal Government to take bold steps in all sectors. Our people demand the best because mediocre performance will not be enough to meet the high expectations of the momentâ€.
â€œI will, therefore, continually monitor and evaluate your performance. Each of you has a portfolio but our responsibility will also be collective. This means that we must support one another, because together each achieves moreâ€.
â€œTo meâ€, he said, â€œthe best instrument for the measurement of development is the yardstick of a steady improvement in the quality of life of our people in all areas.Â In the next two weeks my office will work with you to determine and agree on ministerial goals and targets including milestonesâ€.
This, he added, will form the basis for performance agreements that each of you will sign, saying that once the ministerial objectives are agreed it will be your responsibility to inform the public and you will also publicly report progress.
He warned that â€œI will hate to disappoint you but I will hate even more to disappoint the nation. So let it be clear that the collective interest of the nation will always override any narrow interestsâ€.
Therefore, he stressed, â€œthe mission of this executive council is to deliver on the promise of good governance by showing competence, honesty of purpose, patriotism and selflessness in the privileged business of governanceâ€.
Calls for Prayers for Yarâ€™Adua
According to him, â€œthe executive council we are inaugurating today will continue to work for a rigorous implementation of the policy framework of this administration, which came into office on the 29th of May 2007â€.
â€œWhile we continue to pray for the speedy recovery of the President, permit me to emphasise the policy continuum of governance and to insist on the imperative of this team to roll up its sleeve, and to redouble effort so as to meet the expectation of our people who are yearning for good governanceâ€.
He said â€œour efforts in governance must be manifested in the revamp of decaying infrastructure including steady power supply and good roads; provision of sound and quality education; the good health of our people; provision of jobs for our unemployed youths, security of life and property, commitment to free and fair elections and the very strict adherence to the rule of lawâ€.
Takes Public Perception Seriously
Jonathan declared that â€œpatriotism, accountability and transparency must underpin all our work. We should remember that the public has a keen interest in what we do as public officialsâ€.
Besides, he said â€œI take public perception seriously because I believe that citizens always matter. We must therefore strive to maintain public confidence at all times. We owe this much to our peopleâ€.
He warned that â€œthe policy of this administration remains a zero tolerance of corruptionâ€, saying that â€œtherefore, demonstrable accountability must not only be done but be seen to have been doneâ€.
In this regard, he added, â€œwe will not hesitate to take whatever action necessary to protect the bond of trust, which must always exist between the government and the governedâ€.
â€œLet me put you on notice: The assignment of offices is not an allocation of privileges. You are here on national assignment and you can be reassigned with little or no notice in the national interest, for you are political administrators not operators!â€
He noted that â€œas we advance towards the strengthening of our democracy and the institutions and systems of our federalism, let me urge you to be partners in progress with other tiers of government. We will frown at undue politicking and the promotion of needless friction in the polity. You are here to serve Nigeria and Nigeriansâ€.
â€œIn the comforts of our offices let us not forget that majority of our people live below the poverty line and that many of the things we take for granted are in fact the long unfulfilled dreams of many of our country men, women and children. There is therefore an urgency here that must not escape our attentionâ€, he said.
Tasks New Economic Team
He disclosed that â€œI will be requesting a fortnightly briefing on the state of our economy from the economic team, which shall be constituted very shortly, noting that â€œthis team, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Finance must help to fast-track the process of our development as this is the most important task in the life of our nation. Our present and our future depend on itâ€.
He reminded the new appointees that â€œthe blue print for the actualization of government objectives are there in the budget and in the various policy frameworks now gathering dust in our archivesâ€, warning that â€œno minister will be allowed to go on a mission of endless search for solutionsâ€.
â€œYou must hit the ground running! Time is of fundamental essence and no distraction in our mission will be tolerated. This is a patriotic call to service and the self must therefore take a back seat. This rare privilege must not be abused!â€
I look forward to working with you to accomplish important tasks that will result in economic transformation that promotes social mobility and equity, governance initiatives that subordinate government to the people and relationships that promote national unity, peaceful co-existence and security.
According to him, â€œIt takes only a great people to have demonstrated so much patience and tolerance with government in the light of the recent experiences in our countryâ€.
â€œFor this, with all humility, I salute the Nigerian people and its indomitable spirit of never-give-up. It is that spirit, well identified as the nucleus of our unity and our citizenship, which our founding fathers laboured to uphold that we must now defend with every strength in our breadthâ€.
He maintained that â€œmoments like this offer us an opportunity for reflection and rejuvenation so that the labours of our heroes past shall never truly be in vainâ€, stressing that â€œfor me, this brief ceremony, as we enter the last lap of our four years mandate is also a time for the revalidation of the original dream of our founding fathers as rooted in our nationâ€™s aspiration for justice, liberty and the enjoyment of fundamental freedomsâ€.
He warned that â€œno longer must we tolerate the triumph of centrifugal forces whose main agenda is to distract and defeat the march of our people to the summit of economic self-sufficiency and political maturityâ€.
â€œIn this regard, let me use this occasion to once again salute all stakeholders especially the National Assembly, Elder Statesmen, Former Heads of State, Civil Society, the Armed Forces, Religious and Opinion Leaders, and the various security agencies for their loyalty to the constitution and the defence of the Nigerian people and our young democracyâ€.
Finally, he advised them that â€œthe oath of office and oath of allegiance which you have just taken, together constitute a sacred commitment to serve the Federal Republic of Nigeria without fear or favor, with transparency and accountability, and at all times with good faith and maximum effortâ€.