By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, told the incoming ministers to submit any request meant for him to his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, while all executive matters should be forwarded to Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha.
The president also charged the ministers-designate, who are expected to be inaugurated today, to work collaboratively and purposefully to achieve quicker results.
President Buhari in his closing remarks at the two-day Presidential Retreat for the incoming ministers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, told the new cabinet members to be conscious of the fact that four years was not a long time.
He told them to ensure they engaged and benefit from the experience of the older ministers and former governors in the cabinet.
Buhari said: “In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Public service is not easy work, and at times, it can be thankless. I am, therefore, charging you all to see this opportunity to serve as an honour, to give your best to deliver on this mandate, for a more prosperous Nigeria, not for some, but for all Nigerians.
“You will find that working collaboratively and purposefully will enable us achieve quicker results, recognising that four years is not a very long time.
“For the new ministers, make sure you engage and benefit from the experience of the older ministers and former governors in the cabinet.
“After two days, we have come to the end of a successful retreat. However, you will agree that our work is just beginning.”
The president said the last two days of the retreat had been very instructive for him personally, because he had the opportunity to know many of the new ministers-designate better.
The president said he was pleased to see that they had all equally enjoyed debating and deliberating on the various challenges before them over the next four years.
Solutions to our problems, well researched
He stated further: “Majority of our people are poor and are anxiously hoping for a better life. A Nigeria in which they do not have to worry about what they will eat, where they will live or if they can afford to pay for their children’s education or healthcare.
“Our responsibility, as leaders of this great country, is to meet these basic needs for our people. As I mentioned yesterday (Monday), this administration inherited many challenges from our predecessors to mention a few.
“A country in which 18 local governments in the North-East were under the control of Boko Haram; decayed infrastructure in which our rail lines and roads had severely deteriorated; a rent-seeking economy that depended largely on oil revenues and imports; and significant unpaid pensions, subsidy debts, legacy contractor debts. I can go on and on.
“In our first term, we laid the foundation to rebuild our country. We recaptured those 18 local governments previously held by Boko Haram, whose activities are now limited to sporadic attacks against soft targets.
“Nevertheless, from the quality of the deliberations, it is clear that solutions to our problems are well researched and have been well articulated.
“We have discussed solutions relating to addressing insecurity; macroeconomic stability; agriculture and food security; energy security for petroleum products and electricity; transportation and critical infrastructure; industrialization and SME development; human capital development; social inclusion; anti-corruption; housing financing and consumer credit.”
Summary of the retreat
Presenting what he described as the summary of the retreat and key next steps, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the incoming cabinet members had spent the past two days agreeing to and prioritising the key strategic initiatives required to drive accelerated economic growth in the country as well as the critical enablers required for seamless execution.
He also said it was agreed on the appropriate Key Performance Indicators, KpIs, and measures of success for each initiative.
He said: “Some of the agreements from our deliberations include consolidate and accelerate the agricultural agenda to achieve full food sufficiency, increase revenue, implement measures to reduce leakages and drive cost optimisation; ensure effective coordination between monetary and fiscal policy.
“Invest in human capital development with strong focus on early education and health insurance, facilitate investment in oil and gas sector by ensuring speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and Deep Offshore Oil and Exploration & Production Bill; resolve the liquidity challenge in power sector and facilitate private sector investment.”