By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said that the next four years of his administration will be tough.
The President also said that he has proven his fitness to rule as he went round the 36 states of the federation during the campaigns.
President Buhari stated this when members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, paid him a special visit at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The visit was to congratulate him on his victory at the recently concluded Presidential election.
But President told his cabinet members to also congratulate themselves for the victory because if he had lost the election, they will also have to go, even as he said that he said that his administration will take the issue of economy seriously because of the unemployment rate that has become an issue of concern to everyone.
On what should be expected in the next four years of his administration, President
Buhari said “my last lap of four years will be tough.”
The president who said he deliberately went through the rigorous days of campaign in all the 36 states of the federation before the election, explained that he decided to campaign in two states per day to make a statement to the opposition that he was strong and fit.
He, however, expressed gratitude to God that the agriculture sector had helped a lot in strengthening the economy through what he described as soft loans to farmers, pointing out that agricultural output has consequently been rewarding because of the steady rainy seasons.
While thanking God for the steady rainfall, as investment in agriculture would have been a futile effort if there had been no good and promising rainy seasons, he commended Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Jigawa, and notably Ebonyi Governors for playing notable roles in stopping rice importation through large scale rice cultivation especially with the unpredictable state of the oil sector.
He said, “First, I am pleased that members of the Federal Executive Council are collectively meeting here today where we play our weekly role to congratulate me. I think if I have lost the election, I don’t know how many of them will be here.
“Secondly, during the campaigns, I tried to visit the 36 states and Abuja, firstly, to prove to the other side that I’m fit. I tried to cover two states per day and secondly, not to make anybody feel that any state had been left out.
“So, I thank God that He gave me the strength and health to see through my plan and I think it is appreciated. My last lap of four years , I think it is going to be tough because people are being forgetful.
“That was why, wherever I went, I reminded them of the campaign promise of our party, particularly security, as I kept on saying that you have to secure the country well and institutions. If you don’t secure the country, you can’t achieve anything no matter how many programmes you put in place.
“Secondly, on the economy, unemployment is a problem of this country as a whole. More than 60 per cent of the youths, they need to be kept busy. I realised that God heard our prayers.
“It had been two good rainy seasons and we had the foresight to get the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Central Bank to try and give soft loans to farmers so that everybody that is educated and looking for white collar jobs and cannot get it, can go back to the land.
“We are lucky the rainy season had been good. I think we are also lucky that through the governors in some states like Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, in particular, we don’t import rice but we have savings from rice in terms of foreign exchange which we put in the budget and use for infrastructure.
“That is a very good thing because the oil sector is becoming very difficult to predict. It is becoming unpredictable and depending on it makes us materially insecure but thank goodness, agriculture has come to save it and people are appreciating it,” he said.
Speaking earlier on the essence of the gathering, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, on behalf of the cabinet members, said Buhari’s victory at the poll was well deserved, describing it as a referendum on integrity, uprightness and sincerity.
Mustapha said that President Buhari had through the tripod of his campaign promises on security, economy and the fight against corruption, laid a firm foundation for purposeful leadership which he said would take Nigeria to the next level.
He said, “Your victory with a huge majority of votes cast is indeed a well-deserved success because it was a referendum on honesty, integrity uprightness and sincerity.
“Your Excellency, the Change you promised four (4) years ago to put the Nigerian economy on a sustainable development path; restore security of lives and property; and to fight cnrruptinn has laid the firm foundation for growth.
“Your commitment, dedication and purposeful leadership has indeed become the springboard that has taken us to the Next Level.
“Your Excellency, members of the Federal Executive Council are particularly delighted because Nigerians have validated and rewarded the long rigorous hours we spent in this Council Chamber to deliberate on matters of national importance. You led us with assured calmness, understanding and ensured that we gave account of our stewardship openly.”
The SGF said that Nigerians had rewarded the long hours that ministers spent in the Council Chamber by the president’s re-election, pointing out that the re-election would also strengthen various ongoing reforms in the public service.
He listed such reforms to include treasury savings account (TSA), bank verification number (BVN), open government partnership, whistle blower policy and federal civil service reform and implementation plan, among others, saying all the reforms have helped to make the public service more effective.
He also said they aligned with Nigerians who had re-elected him to facilitate the creation of conducive environment for the development of our nation as he prayed God to grant the president the wisdom to expand the frontiers of the country’s development.
According to Mustapha, “Similarly, the leadership of the Public Service is happy because this re-election will deepen the on-going reforms aimed at strengthening its capacity for the delivery of good governance.
“For the records, we recall your reform achievements signposted by the introduction of the Treasury Smgle Account [TSA], Bank Verification Number (BVN), Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), the Open Government Partnership [0GP], the whistle blower policy, the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan [FCSSIP] 2017-2020, your commitment to the implementation of the Minimum Wage as well as to the welfare of the Nigerian workers.
“All of these have combined to transform the Public Service into an effective and productive machinery.
“The Public Service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria totally aligns itself with millions of Nigerians that have reelected you and members rededicate themselves to the delivery of quality service for the benefit of Nigerians.
“We pledge our loyalty and support to government and assure you that we shall facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for sustainable development of our nation.
“Your Excellency, it is the prayer of all of us that in this 2nd Term, God will increase your wisdom and endow you with good health to enable you to expand the frontiers of the fulfilment of your promises. Indeed, our best years are still ahead of us as a nation. We salute your courage, firmness and fairness.”