Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said that the country will not be sitting idle to wait for handouts from the foreign development partners.
President Buhari said that at this critical stage, what Nigeria required was top managers to handle the numerous challenges.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day retreat for ministers designate and other top government officials at the presidential villa, Abuja, the President said in the next four years, he would rely on members of his new cabinet to deliver on policies and programmes geared toward lifting many Nigerians out of poverty.
He explained that considering the United Nations (UN) estimate that Nigeria's population will grow to 411 million 2050, the third globally, behind only India and China, it becomes frightening, since the need for proactive action towards development.
The President said that the purpose of the retreat was for the ministers designate to familiarize themselves with their colleagues that they would be working closely for the next four years and to reflect and assess the country's position in 2015 and presently as well as chart a course for the country for the foreseeable future.
He said, "I congratulate all the new comers who your country has chosen above others to join the first term Ministers whose performance has been outstanding. All of you are appointed to assist and advise the President in running the affairs of our country.
"At the end of the Retreat, it is hoped that all of you will be in tune with the roles and responsibilities of positions you will occupy in Government. Many national issues require unified decisions.
"It is a great privilege for you to be called upon to serve in these Great Offices of State and you must grasp the chance with two hands and put in your best efforts as Nigeria today needs top managers to handle our numerous challenges. There will be long hours and you must be prepared to live laborious days if we are to serve our people optimally.
"We are all aware of the looming demographic potential of our country. By average estimates, our population is close to 200 million today. By 2050, UN estimates put Nigeria third globally behind only India and China with our projected population at 411 million.
"This is a frightening prospect but only if we sit idly by and expect handouts from so-called development partners. The solution to our problems lies within us.
"Honourable Ministers-Designate, in our first term we identified three salient areas for close attention and action, namely to secure the country, to improve the economy and to fight corruption.
"None but the most partisan will dispute that we have made headway in all three areas:
" First - we have rolled back the frontiers of terrorism; we are actively addressing other challenges such as kidnappings, farmer-herder violence, improving the safety of our roads, railways, air traffic and fire control capacities.
"Second - we are steadily turning the economy round through investment in agriculture and manufacturing, shoring up our foreign reserves, curbing inflation and improving the country's infrastructure.
" Third - on corruption, we have recovered hundreds of billions of stolen assets and are actively pursuing control measures to tackle leakages in public resources. We will not let up in fighting corruption."
President Buhari said as ministers, he was counting on them together with advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to build upon the administration's road map of policies, programmes and projects that will lift the bulk of the people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity.
He said, "Our Administration's eight years will have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. This outcome will fundamentally shift Nigeria's trajectory and place us among the World's Great Nations.
" Honourable Ministers-Designate, you will be responsible for the development and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in your various Ministries, Departments and Agencies in line with Government priorities. You must also ensure that Agencies under your Ministries are effective, efficient and accountable in the discharge of their responsibilities.
"Honourable Ministers-Designate, we must work as a team. Although you have been chosen to represent your states as a constitutional imperative, it is vital for all of you to work as Nigerians.
"Furthermore, working as a team demands that we know what the next person is doing. You must open communications with your colleagues. Lack of communication leads to lack of cooperation and sub-optimal performance.
" Finally, although this is called a Retreat, I would like to think this is a preparation for an advance to the Next Level. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I wish you fruitful deliberations."
In his welcome remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha said the objective of the retreat was to prepare the new Cabinet in Buhari's second tenure, the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their roles and responsibilities as Cabinet Ministers, an understanding that will help to shape and streamline efforts towards achieving the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people of Nigeria.
He said the outcome of the retreat will set a strategic agenda which would define the course of action for the next four years of the administration, set achievable targets and identify basic strategic options that will assist the new cabinet realise the goals for which the administration was elected to achieve.
He said that the retreat was conceptualized in three thematic phases comprising, a Context Setting segment, led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and supported by Mckinsey & Co. and KPMG as consultants.
"The second segment is principally designed to be more interactive, setting the values of team work as your appointments demand, which will be demonstrated by your involvement in syndicated breakout sessions focused on topics across defined Government priority areas," Boss noted.
Others slated to deliver papers at the retreat include former SGF Yayale Ahmed, former Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), Ms. Amal Pappel,and former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani.
The retreat is expected to end on Tuesday while the ministers will be sworn-in by President Buhari on Wednesday.