President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged the 43 ministers-designate to be prepared to live laborious days to serve Nigerians optimally.
Speaking at the retreat for the incoming cabinet members at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari urged them to work as a team for the full implementation of the programs and policies of the government.
The president's speech reads: "I welcome you all to this meeting whose purpose is firstly, to familiarize ourselves with our colleagues with whom we shall be working closely for the next four years GOD willing; secondly, to reflect and assess the country's position in 2015 and today; and thirdly, to chart a course for the country for the foreseeable future.
"I congratulate all the new comers who your country has chosen above others to join the first term Ministers whose performance has been outstanding."
He said the ministers are appointed to assist and advise him in running the affairs of the 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," he said.
The president drew the attention of the incoming ministers to the looming demographic potential of the 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," he said.
He said they have done creditably well on the three key areas of focus of his administration, namely to secure the country, to improve the economy and to fight corruption.
He said he was counting on the ministers together with advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to build upon the road map of policies, programmes and projects that will lift the bulk of Nigerians out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity, adding that his administration's eight years would have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
SGF reads riot acts to ministers-designate
Also speaking, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, has warned ministers designate and other presidential aides on working against the interest of the collective decisions.
"Ministers are collectively responsible for policy decisions in Council. Although an individual Minister may differ in opinion during deliberations on any proposal before Council, however, once a decision is taken, it becomes a binding Council decision, that no Minister can speak against either in public or private, no matter the argument he/she presented during discussion on the proposal.
"This principle of collective responsibility also infers that a Minister has responsibilities wider than those relating to his/her assigned portfolio and will, in that capacity, receive documents from other Ministers/Ministries, which do not concern the subjects under his/her portfolio, requiring his/her consideration and contribution during the weekly Council meetings," he said.
He told the participants that the task of governance requires patience, dedication and total commitment to the objectives that they are committed to pursue, especially in realization of the yearnings for quick delivery of the dividends of democracy by the people.