August 22, 2023

Tinubu to ministers: Serve Nigeria, not regions or states

Tinubu to ministers: Serve Nigeria, not regions or states

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Omeiza Ajayi & Obas Esiedesa, ABUJA

Exactly 84 days after he assumed power, President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet took off yesterday, with the president asking his 45 ministers to serve the country with “integrity, dignity and deliver” in their different assignments, instead of serving their states and regions.

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of the 45 ministers at the State House Conference Centre (Old Banquet Hall), Abuja, Tinubu said the country is currently battling “daunting” challenges, adding that the ministers must implement “long overdue” reforms and restore the citizenry’s belief in government.

Tinubu said the assignment before the ministers begins immediately and that they must meet the expectations of Nigerians.

He told the new cabinet members that they were ministers of the country and not ministers of a region or state.

The President said: “I expect that you will serve with integrity, dignity and deliver. I will hold you to that standard we all promised Nigerians. Your assignment begins immediately.

“As your country honours you today, by this call to service, you must each work to make yourself worthy in the eyes of God and all our nation’s peoples.

“Your highest obligation is to return public faith in government so that our people can once again believe what the right hands in government can show.

“I believe in you that the government can be a positive force for transformation and a vehicle for collective progress of this country.

“I wish you success in this new assignment. We are on this boat, even if it is a vehicle and I am the driver. The entire Nigerians are behind sitting and watching as you and I navigate this vehicle.

“We must hold each other responsible. We have to do the job to meet the expectations of all Nigerians.”

Recently, the president sent the list of 48 ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation but only 45 were cleared.

On August 16, President Tinubu assigned portfolios to the ministerial nominees.

Over the weekend, the successful ministers-designate had their documentation at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator George Akume.

How ministers were sworn-in

Present at the ceremony that started by 10 am were Vice-President Kashim Shettima; Senate President Godswill Akpabio; Speaker of the House Representatives, Tajudeen Abass; Senator George Akume; Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Kwara State Governor, Abdularasaq Abdulrahman.

The ministers took oath in batches of five. The first batch comprised the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejiocha; Minister of State (Gas) in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ekperikpe Ekpo; Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy; and Minister of Education, Tahir Maman.

The second batch had Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar; Minister of State (Oil), Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri; Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Utsev; and Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari.

In the third batch were Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu; Minister of Sports Development, John Enoh; Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo; Minister of Works, Dave Umahi; and Minister of Niger Delta Development, Abubakar Momoh.
The fourth batch of ministers to be sworn-in were Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake; Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji; Minister of Transportation, Alkali Sa’id; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Anite; and Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru.

The fifth were Minister of State Housing and Urban Development, Abdullahi Gwarzo; Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mariya Mahmud; Minister of Housing and Urban development, Ahmed Dangiwa; Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa; and Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu.

The sixth were Minister of State Education, Yusuf Sununu; Minister of Steel Development, Shuaibu Audu; Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Tunji Alausa; Minister of Tourism, Lola Ade-John; and Minister of State, Police Affairs, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim.

The seventh batch comprised Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris; Minister of State, Environment, Ishak Salako; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; and Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani.

Minsters begin work, report at ministries

Shortly after their swearing-in, a host of the ministers reported at their ministries and resumed duties

‘Negotiate with Organized Labour over subsidy removal’

To amicably resolve the issues arising from the removal of fuel subsidy, President Tinubu directed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, and the Minister of State, Nkeiru Onyejeocha to immediately take over negotiations with Organized Labour in order to arrive at resolutions that will make workers overcome the current pains.

Lalong disclosed this while addressing directors, heads, entire staff of parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, yesterday.

He also said the administration of President Tinubu will not spare any effort to protect Nigerian workers and guarantee their dignity at all times.

Lalong, who was flanked by the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said under his stewardship, the ministry will fulfill its mandate of ensuring decent work for all Nigerians and ensure that citizens, particularly youth and women get the opportunity to deploy their energy, creativity, talent and gifts to the development of the nation.

He also assured that the ministry will work closely with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the Trade Union Congress, TUC and their affiliates towards ensuring that all pending industrial disputes were settled amicably.

The minister said the government would be addressing with strong determination the new minimum wage and other palliatives arising from the removal of fuel subsidy.

He said his appointment and that of the minister of state is a call to service and promised that they will do everything within their powers to give their best in assisting the President fulfill his Renewed Hope Agenda for a better Nigeria.

Lalong said: “Nigerians have trusted President Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima with their mandate, and, therefore, expect a better nation where their dreams and aspirations will be fulfilled.

“The President has, in turn, mandated us to handle the very important aspects of labour and employment, which are critical to national development and prosperity.

“The task is certainly enormous but achievable, especially with the abundant human resources Nigeria is endowed with. We therefore need your support and understanding to succeed.

“Under my stewardship, the Ministry of Labour and Employment will fulfill its mandate of ensuring decent work for all Nigerians and making sure that our citizens, particularly the youth and women get the opportunity to deploy their energy, creativity, talent and gifts to the development of the nation.

“We shall, therefore, mobilise and deploy all the resources of the Ministry towards ensuring that the matters relating to Labour and Employment are galvanised across relevant MDAs and sectors of the economy in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President. Our workers must get value for their labour and operate in safe and conducive environment.

“Because of the level of unemployment, underemployment, and challenges associated with the work environment, we have been mandated by Mr. President to ensure that Nigerians get decent employment and are adequately remunerated for their labour both in the public and private sectors. We shall not spare any effort to protect the Nigerian worker and guarantee his dignity at all times.”

Lalong, who was immediate past governor of Plateau State, said the ministry would leverage on technology, skill acquisition, entrepreneurship, and agriculture, among others, to open up more employment opportunities for all Nigerians.

In her brief remarks, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejiocha, said her appointment was not by her might or power but the grace of God.

She advised staff of the ministry to put in their best, stressing “whether we like it or not, there will be a time we will give account of our activities.”

He urged the staff to help Tinubu’s administration implement all the promises he made to Nigerians.

Why I cried after I was appointed AGF— Fagbemi

A few hours after he was sworn in as the 24th Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, stormed the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja.

In his maiden interaction with officials of the Ministry, the AGF, narrated how he cried over the barrage of congratulatory messages that trailed his appointment as minister.

Fagbemi, SAN, who was called to the Nigerian Bar in August 1985, said he had to look beyond the encomiums, knowing that expectations of Nigerians were very high.

Consequently, he said it was imperative for officials of the Justice Ministry and all the parastatals under it, to redouble their efforts with a view to ensuring that President Tinubu’s campaign manifesto, which was anchored on the renewal of hope of citizens, are achieved.

Flanked by directors of the Federal Ministry of Justice, who were led by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the AGF, said: “When this appointment came and I received congratulatory messages even from people I never expected, who I had taken to be my arch-critics coming up with, ‘oh, you will do well,’ I went into a corner and I was crying. But as you know, you don’t just savour the encomiums, you also look at the implications and the meaning of it.

“Expectations are high. It is very very high, except we just want to deceive ourselves. I want you to know that it is not expectations from me alone because you know that I cannot do it alone. I will rely on you, my colleagues, here.

“I also want you to know that I am open for suggestions or criticisms. There is nothing bad with criticism but it must be constrictive. When you criticize, you proffer solutions.”

The AGF, while stressing the critical position of the Justice Ministry in the coordination of affairs of the nation, said he would expect maximum cooperation from all the staff members, warning that he would not condone any form of indiscipline or breach of protocol.

“The Ministry of Justice holds a very strategic position in this country. There is hardly any ministry or government parastatal that does not require its services, none. And if you listen to the speech of Mr. President and his manifesto, everything is anchored on renewed hope.

“How are we to achieve this? If you remove the Ministry of Justice from the equation, the whole thing is rubbish.

“There is hardly any relationship, contract, with, within or the outside world that you don’t come here. You also have to issue legal advice, both in civil and criminal matters.

“I want to plead that please, let us redouble our efforts. Like I said, I am open, but you must follow the rules.

“Forgive me, maybe it is too early, but I don’t expect a director to come to me straight without passing through the appropriate channel. Just as I don’t and will not encourage a junior officer to bypass his director and go elsewhere.

“I want to plead, don’t let us encourage it. There are ways of encouraging people, not by disobedience or riding a roughshod of the regulations.

“If you are not satisfied with what your immediate senior in the department does, you always have layers of redress mechanism. I want us to follow it.

Warns Justice Ministry officials against undue delay of files

“Like I said, it is not today that we should address all that we need to do, but I want to plead that we should not unnecessarily delay files.

“If you want to issue advice, issue the advice, whether it is for good or for bad and don’t leave the outside world to be speculating.

“Do it, but be thorough. Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge or wisdom. Whatever we want to do, let us do it early enough.

“It is when we do things the way they are not supposed to be done that we open our flanks for attacks.

“Don’t expect that there will be praises, Al least, not immediately. So, it is better that we do things, guided by our conscience,” the AGF added.

Among heads of agencies that were on ground to receive him at the Justice Ministry included the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Director Generals of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, National Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Copyright Commission and the Nigeria Law Reform Commission, and Chairman of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brigadier General Buba Marwa, retd.

In her remarks, the SGF and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Jedy-Agba, assured the AGF that he would get the maximum cooperation of ministry staff.

Lokpobiri benchmarks success on increased oil production

While resuming for duties yesterday, after the swearing-in, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, declared that increasing oil production volume for Nigeria would be his priority, saying without the increment, nothing could be achieved.

Lokpobiri, who stated this during a meeting with top officials of the ministry and heads of agencies in the ministry, said he was ready to go to the creeks to achieve success.

He said: “I have too much energy. I have come here to utilise the energy to revamp the sector. I am here to work with the agencies to increase production on a sustainable basis.

“Even if you speak grammar from now to tomorrow you don’t increase production, you have achieved nothing. You are the experts.

“I am not going to spend more time in the office. I am going to spend more time in the fields so that we can achieve results. I don’t want to be told stories so that we can achieve the result.”

Speaking also at the meeting, The Minister of State Petroleum (Gas) Ekperikpo Ekpo, promised to maximise the use of Nigeria’s vast natural gas resources to reduce the cost of transportation.

Ekpo said the ministry would work hard to maximise the utilisation of Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, for power infrastructure in order to reduce the cost of transportation.

He explained that with the removal of subsidy on petrol , the task of providing alternatives now fell on the ministry.

“With the removal of fuel subsidies, the responsibility of providing a sustainable alternative to PMS falls on us in the ministry.

“In line with the just approved Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative, and as an immediate short-term strategy, you will maximise the utilisation of Compressed Natural Gas in the sector and later improve installation, expansion and use in association for power generation infrastructure,’’ he said.

He pledged his commitment to ensuring that together with the heads of MDAs, “we will deliver on this task of building a sustainable gas utilisation framework for the development of the requisite infrastructure for Nigerians.”

45 Ministers at a glance

1 Lateef Fagbemi, AGF, Justice
2 Simon Lalong, Labour and Employment
3 Nkeiruka Onyejiocha, Labour & Employment (State)
4 Ekperikpe Ekpo, Gas, Petroleum Resources (State)
5 Heineken Lokpobiri, Oil, Petroleum Resources (State)
6 Uju Kennedy, Women Affairs
7 Tahir Maman, Education
8 Ali Pate, Health & Social Welfare
9 Tunji Alausa, Health & Social Welfare (State)
10 Yusuf Tuggar, Foreign Affairs
11 Joseph Utsev, Water Resources & Sanitation
12 Bello Goronyo, Water Resources & Sanitation (State)
13 Abubakar Kyari, Agriculture & Food Security
14 Betta Edu, Humanitarian Affairs & Poverty Alleviation
15 John Enoh, Sports Development
16 Festus Keyamo, Aviation & Aerospace Development
17 Dave Umahi, Works
18 Abubakar Momoh, Niger Delta Development
19 Dele Alake, Solid Minerals Development
20 Uche Nnaji, Innovation, Science & Technology
21 Alkali Sa’id, Transportation
22 Doris Anite, Industry, Trade & Investment
23 Mohammed Badaru, Defence
24 Bello Matawalle, Defence (State)
25 Ahmed Dangiwa, Housing and Urban Development
26 Abdullahi Gwarzo, Housing & Urban Development (State)
27 Nyesom Wike, FCT
28 Mariya Mahmud, FCT (State)
29 Hannatu Musawa, Arts, Culture & Creative Economy
30 Atiku Bagudu, Budget & Economic Planning
31 Yusuf Sununu, Education (State)
32 Shuaibu Audu, Steel Development
33 Maigari Ahmadu, Steel Development (State)
34 Lola Ade-John, Tourism
35 Ibrahim Geidam, Police affairs
36 Imaan Sulaiman- Ibrahim, Police Affairs (State)
37 Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Agriculture & Food Security
38 Muhammed Idris, Information & National Orientation
39 Ishak Salako, Environment (State)
40 Wale Edun, Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy
41 Bosun Tijani , Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy
42 Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, Interior
43 Adegboyega Oyetola, Marine & Blue Economy
44 Adedayo Adelabu, Power
45 Zephaniah Jisalo, Special Duties & Intergovernmental Affairs