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Breaking: President Buhari bars Ministers from direct contact with him

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President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday told the incoming Ministers to submit any request meant for him to his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari and all executive matters to the 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 so as 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 the new Ministers to make sure that they engage and benefit from the experience of the older Ministers and former Governors in the cabinet.

According to him, “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 to achieve quicker results, recognizing 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 that the last two days of the retreat had been very instructive for him personally, because he had had the opportunity to know many of the new Ministers-Designate better.

He further said that he was pleased to see that they have all equally enjoyed debating and deliberating on the various challenges before them over the next four years.

He said, “Ladies & Gentlemen, 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 to mention a few:

” A country in which 18 local governments in the Northeast 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; “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.

“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.”

He said while the government has obvious successes to celebrate, the challenges ahead as observed within the two days of the exercise were significant.

But he said, “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.”

President Buhari commended the Office of the SGF for coordinating the successful Presidential Retreat, adding,” “I would also like to thank the National Assembly leadership, the Party Chairman, Chairman of the Governors Forum, and resource firms, for the active engagements and contributions.

“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.”

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 prioritizing 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 that it was also agreed on the appropriate Key Performance Indicators, KPls and measures of success for each initiative.

He said, “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 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

“Furthermore, it was emphasized that we need to work effectively with all other arms of government such as state government, national assembly etc. for major high impact initiatives such as provision of large scale land for agriculture and food security, passage of critical legislations, etc.

“The work we have done here has been critical to laying the foundation for what we will accomplish in this administration. 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.”

He reiterated that the federal government was committed to delivering on and implementing all agreed initiatives within the stipulated timelines.

He said for effective implementation, the initiatives will be cascaded to the relevant ministries, whose ministers will champion the responsibility for driving implementation and execution.

He said, “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.

“To aid in the implementation of the agreed initiatives, the outcomes from this two-day session will be documented and shared with all the ministers. This will serve as a guide on the key initiatives and action steps required.

“A monitoring and evaluation framework will also be instituted to track the performance of each ministry against its cascaded strategic initiatives based on the outcome of this retreat. This is an integral measure to ensure we deliver on our agreed objectives.

“As we implement this work, there will be challenges -both those we anticipate and those that we do not. Anytime you are looking to make change on this scale, it is to be expected. Do not let these challenges discourage you-let them serve as motivation to work even harder, to think more creatively, and to come up with new solutions.

“And remember that you have an entire team to help you, including myself, and remember to escalate issues as appropriate to ensure we can resolve roadblocks in a timely and systematic manner.”

He said that after spending two days with the Ministers Designate , he was confident that together they would overcome any obstacle and the administration will accomplish great things.

The SGF said,” As public servants, we are not only expected to deliver results that improve the lives of our fellow citizens and transform our country, but also to reflect in our example what our nation stands for – hard work, honor, integrity, ingenuity, and the relentless belief that in Nigeria all things are possible and that together we can accomplish extraordinary things.

“It is a spirit of excellence that we all must exemplify, and by doing this we can serve as a source of renewed hope for our people.”

The Ministers-designate will be sworn in today at the State House, after which they will be allocated portfolios by the President.

Following the swearing-in, each Minister will be given a Mandate, based on the assigned Ministry, and which will spell out priorities, deliverables and timelines.

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