Ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration of Ministers-Designate, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told the Ministers-Designate that Nigerians have great and quick expectations from his administration.
He spoke during the closing ceremony of the Presidential Retreat for the Ministers-Designate in Abuja.
He noted that the majority of Nigerians are poor and hoping for a better life.
While the Ministers-Designate are expected to be inaugurated on Wednesday, the President said that the retreat was the beginning of their work.
According to him, it was the responsibility of the government to meet the great needs of the people.
Buhari said, “After two days, we have come to the end of a successful retreat. However, you will agree that our work is just beginning.
“These last two days have been very instructive for me personally, because I have had the opportunity to know many of you, new Ministers-Designate better. I was also pleased to see that you have all equally enjoyed debating and deliberating on the various challenges before us over the next 4 years.
“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, this Administration inherited many challenges from our predecessors.”
He listed the challenges to include 18 local governments in the Northeast that were under the control of Boko Haram; decayed infrastructure; a rent-seeking economy that depended largely on oil revenues and imports; significant unpaid pensions, subsidy debts, legacy contractor debts.
According to him, his administration in the past four years laid the foundation to rebuild Nigeria.
The President said, “We recaptured those 18 Local Governments previously held by Boko Haram, whose activities are now limited to sporadic attacks against soft targets.
“Our investments in road and rail infrastructure are without precedent, and many of you can attest to this. We also focused on diversifying the economy from oil towards agriculture and industrialization.
“Despite reduced revenues from oil and gas compared to past governments, we have broadly addressed many of the legacy debts they left behind.”
While noting that there are obvious successes to celebrate, Buhari said that the challenges ahead are significant.
His words, “Nevertheless, from the quality of the deliberations, it is clear that solutions to our problems are well-researched and 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; Industrialisation and SME Development; Human Capital Development; Social Inclusion; Anti-Corruption; Housing Financing and Consumer Credit.
“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 to 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.
“In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channeled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Once again, the challenges that lie ahead of us as a country are significant. But I have no doubt in your individual capacities and our collective patriotic commitment to deliver a better Nigeria for us, our children and a brighter future for all.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha said that the incoming Ministers will be responsible for the implementation of agreed initiatives and that a monitoring evaluation framework will be put in place to check their performance.
“We have spent the past two days agreeing to and prioritising the key strategic initiatives required to drive accelerated economic growth in our country as well as the critical enablers required for seamless execution.
“We have also agreed on the appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPls) and measures of success for each initiative. Some of the agreements from our deliberations include: Consolidate and accelerate on 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 to 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,” he said.
Boss said the retreat was critical to laying the foundation for what will be accomplish by the administration in the next four years.
“But this work alone is not why we are here. Now it is time to turn our words into actions – to take everything that we have learned, all the strategies and approaches that we have discussed, and go execute our priorities. This work begins now. The people of Nigeria are looking to this administration for results – and they expect them quickly.
“I will like to reiterate that the Federal Government is committed to delivering on and implementing all agreed initiatives within the stipulated timelines. To ensure effective implementation, the initiatives will be cascaded to the relevant ministries, whose ministers will champion the responsibility for driving implementation and execution.
“As earlier stated in my welcome address, as ministers, you have leading roles in framing issues within your policy domain and developing, implementing and tracking policies and in communicating the impacts and results. It is your responsibility to take ownership over the success of these initiatives. You will be ultimately responsible for ensuring the initiatives agreed on during this retreat meet their defined KPls,” he added.
To aid in the implementation of the agreed initiatives, Boss said the outcomes from the two-day session will be documented and shared with all the ministers.
This, he said, will serve as a guide on the key initiatives and action steps required.
He said that a monitoring and evaluation framework will also be instituted to track the performance of each ministry.