Nigeria: High Expectations As Ministers Assume Office, Unveil Agenda

(file photo).
22 August 2019

As soon as they were inaugurated yesterday by President Muhammadu Buhari, the new minsters proceeded to their offices in Abuja where they unveiled their agenda to their workers.

Nigerians also used the opportunity to list their expectations from the minsters, who reported at their ministries for work.

And as part of his reorganisation of the institutions of governance, President Buhari created some ministries, restructured others and assigned portfolios to the appointees.

The new and restructured ministries are Police Affairs, Special Duties/International Affairs, Power, Aviation, Humanitarian/Disaster Management and, Works and Housing.

During his first term in office, power, housing, and works were lumped into one ministry the same way for aviation and transportation ministries.

However, the ministries of finance and budget and national planning which were separated in the previous dispensation have been consolidated by the president.

The president retained his position as the etroleum Resources as the substantive minister while Timpre Silva was appointed as the minister of state.

The secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who also took his oath of office before the ministers did same, charged them to liaise with their permanent secretaries immediately to ensure early submission of the 2020 budget before the National Assembly resumes from its recess.

In his address before announcing their portfolios, President Buhari said that in the past four years, his administration had made enormous progress in tackling serious challenges faced by the country.

He said: "We have exited the country from recession, restored economic growth, curbed inflation and shore up our external reserves. As a result, we have witnessed eight quarters of consistent growth over the past two-and-a-half years, providing more opportunities for Nigerians."

Buhari, however, pointed out that as Nigeria continues to face tough challenges, he is determined to build on the progress of the last four years in order to fundamentally shift the country's trajectory and improve the wellbeing of the people.

According to him, "today, I am pleased to inaugurate 43 new ministers who will work with me and the vice president in our service to the people of Nigeria. You were chosen from each of the 36 states of the federation, and most importantly, you share my commitment to working tirelessly for the people of this country and to achieving a future where every Nigerian can reach his/her full potential.

"I believe you are ready to get to work. Indeed, the work has already started. For the past two days, you were with me at the retreat. The retreat which was conducted with clear focus on the roadmap towards the delivery of government policies, programmes and projects for 2019-2023. During the period, I shared my vision for Nigeria and what our priorities will be for the next four years. These priorities are the pillars on which we can build a better Nigeria."

Buhari reminded the ministers that the core objectives of the administration are to improve security, achieve diversified, inclusive economic growth and fight corruption.

The president expressed confidence that his administration can build a buoyant economy that supports inclusive growth and creates broad-based prosperity for every Nigerian - one that will absorb the two million Nigerians entering the labour market each year, as well as reduce the backlog of over 20 million unemployed or underemployed Nigerians.

He, therefore, tasked the ministers to intensify efforts at reducing internal security threats and eradicate corruption at all levels so as to ensure that the citizens have a safe and corruption-free environment where they can live and conduct their businesses, without fear and intimidation.

He said: "Our primary business over the next four years is to work together towards delivering the results that the people of Nigeria expect from us.We have a great opportunity as an administration to build on the progress already made in order to fundamentally shift Nigeria's trajectory on the path of steady growth and development.

"While recognising the existing challenges, and the urgent need to surmount them, we must not fail to note the progress we have made since inception. Our economic policy, which is the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, is still robust and on course with the necessary policies and initiatives to sustain the country's exit from recession, engender growth and promote the value chain of infrastructural development.

"We believe that we can sustain our legacies and developmental strides if they are based on sustainable policies and good governance," he said.

Buhari emphasised that, as heads of their respective ministries, and for effective implementation of their mandates, the ministers are required to work closely with the permanent secretaries and chief executive officers of agencies under their purview.

According to him, this has become necessary considering the fact that the task of moving the country to the Next Level requires dedication, focus, and collective efforts.

"I must emphasise the importance of communication and harmony within our government. You must work in harmony with your fellow ministers. Communication - vertical and horizontal can only be ignored at a price.

"Dear ministers, as you are aware, the Federal Executive Council meeting is held on a weekly basis. As part of efforts towards ensuring effective delivery of our priorities, I have directed the secretary to the government of the federation to track the progress against what we have committed to do to achieve these objectives. He is, therefore, expected to report the process of implementation and outcome to the Federal Executive Council.

Varsity Workers' Strike, My Priority - Ngige

Meanwhile, the minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said his first priority in office is to address the ongoing strike by non-teaching staff in the universities.

Ngige, who spoke at a reception organised in his honour at his residence, said that he is returning to the ministry with lots of experience.

He added that he is committed to working with the organised labour to ensure that the consequential adjustment on the minimum wage is actualised.

"We have so many outstanding issues to address, some of them urgently as we speak NASU, SSANU, the JAC they are on strike. So, we have to address that promptly."

Fashola Seeks 2020 Draft Budget From Management

The minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) was also treated to a warm welcome at the ministry's headquarters in Abuja.

In his speech, Fashola, who headed the ministry in Buhari's first term, directed the management of both Works and Housing arms of the ministry to provide him a draft budget within the two weeks to be submitted to the Budget Office.

He said: "One of the things we have to do is to quickly bring out a budget for the ministry and we have to do that in the next two weeks and if we can do that and do it right because the budget will be the article of faith and over the next few days, all of us from the smaller units to the departments must be concentrating on how to quickly help the permanent secretary to present a worthy budget by this ministry to the Budget Office to FEC and from there to the National Assembly (NASS)."

Earlier, the minister of State for Works and Housing, Mr. Abubakar Aliyu, urged the staff to work towards achieving the mandate of President Buhari.

Science Ministry To Adopt New Policy Framework - Onu

The minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ognonnaya Onu, said that it will adopt a new policy framework to deliver the president's mandate to the people.

He stated this known during his reception at the ministry after his inauguration at the State House yesterday.

Addressing heads of agencies under the ministry, director's and staff, the returning minister revealed plans to make the ministry hits the ground running under his administration by ensuring that the 2020 budget is ready by September in line with presidential directives to return the budget to the January-December fiscal year meeting.

Tighten Your Seat Belt, Aregbesola Tells CGs, Others

The minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, charged the permanent secretary, heads of the paramilitary agencies, the ministry staff and unions to tighten their seat belts for the next level assignment

Aregbesola who promised to embark on reforms that will redefine the ministry's mandate on internal security in line with international best practices, said that "we must be ready to give security our best."

He added that "I am coming with the grease and we must all be ready to soil our hands to give the wheel the needed lubricant it requires to make it flexible. This will commence as I resume fully on Monday."

The minister said: "There is no doubt that the Nigerian security sector needs reforms, especially when it concerns security sector governance. Let's not also forget that the main trust of the Buhari administration is security, which to me, means less defence but more of internal security."

Agriculture I'll Take Its Pride Of Place - Nanono

The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, yesterday assured Nigerians of his commitment to Buhari's plans to diversify the economy from oil, declaring that he would hit the ground running in the discharge of his duties.

Nanono told staff of the ministry that he would ensure that agriculture took its pride of place because it was critical to internal security.

While noting that agriculture was one of the most critical sectors in the country, the minister said it would help solve several of the nation's challenges, if given the necessary attention.

"Agriculture is very critical to internal security and whatever we need to do to promote is one of my objectives. This is one of the most important ministries in the focus of this administration," he said.

On his discipline, Nanono from Kano State said he studied Business Administration and had been into farming since 1973.

Adegbite Charges Workers On Team Work

The minister of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), Olamilekan Adegbite, who was treated to a warm reception by the ministry, solicited the support of the entire staff of the ministry.

He said that he was aware of the enormous task to be accomplished in a short time and sought the cooperation and commitment of the staff to enable the ministry achieve the goals set out for the sector by the Buhari administration.

Adegbite who admitted that he was new to the sector but had some rudimentary interaction with the key players in the past, however, said that he was prepared to learn fast and work closely with all stakeholders.

"It has been a rollercoaster from Monday when we started the retreat and nobody was left in doubt as to the mission ahead that we need to achieve in such a short time. I am new to this field but I have some rudimentary interaction because I worked in Ogun State as the commissioner for works and infrastructure," he said.

Adamu Back At Education Ministry

The minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and the minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, have assumed duties.

Adamu was the minister of Education in the first four years of Buhari's tenure.

Addressing directors of the Ministry, Adamu commended the permanent secretary, Sonny Echono and the directors for their support given during his first three an half years in office.

He said that when he came into office, he unveiled the strategic plan and expressed joy that he was back to see to its implementation.

"We have laboured over the time on the strategic plan for the education and only to the point of implementation then we had to leave, then I had the opportunity to remind President Muhammadu Buhari that the nation is expecting so much from him.

"When we were sent here the first tenure, it took me one and half years to understand the ministry, it also took me as a surprised when I was re-assigned to the ministry, I had thought I would be sent to another ministry where I would have to learn all over again, and I know that I was coming back to a family, you all are my teachers and hopefully we will work well together again.

Adebayo Promises To Deliver On PMB's Mandate

The minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, has said that he would work assiduously with his minister of state to deliver on the mandate given to them by President Buhari.

Adebayo and the minister of state, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, said that there is an enormous task ahead and urged the staff to discharge their duties diligently.

He said: "We are in the ministry to achieve result and we will work out the work plan to move the ministry forward in terms of economic growth and job creation."

The minister assured members of staff that they would be motivated to deliver on the ministry's policies and progammes.

We'll Change Niger Delta Narrative - Akpabio, Keyamo

The minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and the minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo (SAN), resumed work yesterday with a promise to give the ministry and the Niger Delta region a new development face.

The duo who were welcomed by the permanent secretary, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack and the management staff, expressed their readiness to address the development needs of the region.

Akpabio said: "Being from the Niger Delta region, it behoves on me to take the developmental challenges more seriously, hence, the issues of capacity building, inadequate infrastructure, poverty alleviation, youth restiveness, entrepreneurship, environmental degradation, amongst others, will be tackled head-on as I am not unaware of how these challenges negatively affects our people".

Akpabio pledged to work harmoniously with Keyamo to ensure that they match the honour done them as well as government's investment in the region with results.

Keyamo thanked the staff of the ministry for the warm reception accorded them and pledged to give his best in boosting the confidence reposed in them through their appointment.

Lai Mohammed Resumes Work Amidst Cheers

The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, resumed work shortly after the inauguration of the new ministers by Buhari.

Mohammed stepped into his office building at the Federal Secretariat at about 2:10 pm amidst cheers from the workers who congratulated him on his re-appointment as the 14th minister of Information and Culture.

The permanent secretary, Mrs. Grace Isu-Gekpe, who led the directors to receive him, noted that the workers were happy to have him back to continue with his laudable initiatives.

Mohammed, who expressed desire to record better achievements in his second tenure, charged the management and staff of the ministry to work harder to justify the confidence President Buhari reposed in them.

"My charge to all of us is to please redouble our efforts so that we can justify the confidence Mr. President has reposed in us. That Mr. President has reappointed and posted me back to this ministry is a measure of the confidence he has in me. So, we all need to work hard.

"Let me express my joy at the prospect of working again with the directors that I worked with in the last administration. Whatever success we had achieved was because of the cooperation and collaboration of Directors who worked with us," he said.

Mohammed said that he would continue to work very closely with them in order to implement the core mandate of the ministry.

Ministerial Inauguration Is Poor Parade - PDP

Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, described the inauguration exercise as a poor parade of recycled foot-travellers, many of whom have failed Nigerians in governance assignments.

It said that in assembling a team made up of persons indicted for corruption and treasury looting, President Buhari had demonstrated that he has nothing to offer to the country other than condoning and encouraging corruption as well as perpetuating incompetence, failure and ineffectiveness in governance.

The party said that it was not surprised that the president had no clear-cut blueprint to rescue the country from the economic, security and social quagmires which his administration had plunged it into in the last four years.

In a statement issued by the party's national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said that "Mr. President has severally demonstrated a lack of required capacity to lead a nation as complex as Nigeria, especially at this trying times."

The PDP however urged Nigerians not to lose hope but continue in the expressed determination to retrieve Atiku Abubakar's stolen Presidential mandate at the court.

Our Expectations From Ministers - Rivers' Stakeholders

Stakeholders in Rivers State have expressed mixed feelings on their expectations from the ministers who were sworn-in yesterday by Buhari.

Former governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Prince Tonye Princewill, said that intense pace and higher targets should be expected from the ministers.

Princewill said: "The agenda has now been set by the president and so it's not for me to do that, but I would expect that it will be a more intense pace and higher targets.

On his part, a media practitioner, Asi Prince Dateme, expressed the hope that the ministers had taken stock of past mistakes and would certainly address them for the good of Nigerians.

Dateme said: "Nigerians should get ready to enjoy democratic dividends more than ever before in the history of this Nation. We have ministers who are abreast of the task and the experience to make progress. Worthy of mention is the return of Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to the Transportation Ministry."

Sokoto Residents Urge Ministers To Be Focus

The people of Sokoto State have described the new minsters as capable of launching the country into the president's next level agenda.

A human rights activists and one of the leaders of Buhari Support Group (BSG), Ibrahim Adamu Tudun-Doki, said that Nigerians expect that the chosen ones would proactively support the president to deliver his campaign promises.

A chieftain of the PDP in Sokoto, Muhammadu Illela, said that Nigerians must not expect anything different from what has been on ground because the APC has nothing to offer.

Harness Talents Of Nigerian Youths, NYCN Tasks New Minister, Dare

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) yesterday urged the new minister of Youth and Sports Development, Hon. Sunday Dare, to harness the residual youth talent.

In a statement jointly signed by the NYCN president, Ambassador Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo and public relations officer, Comrade Olugbode Damola Hammed, they noted that youths are the leaders of tomorrow and the that minister was appointed to oversee a ministry that would determine the nation's future.

They said: "Nigeria youths through the apex youth body heartily congratulates Hon. Sunday Dare on his assumption into office as minister of Youth and Sports. Going by the popular saying that the youths are the future, it is cool to say you have been appointed to oversee the future of the nation, the most sensitive, fragile and responsive ministry.

Group Urges Ministers on Speedy Economic Recovery

The Association of Iron and Steel Fabricated Metal Products (AISFMP) called on the ministers to hit the ground running in their various ministries in order to ensure speedy economic recovery for the country.

The chairman of the group, Dr. Kamoru Yusuf, in a statement he signed, called on the ministers of Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Olamilekan Adegbite, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, to come up with policies and programnes that would revive the entire manufacturing sector .

According to him, AISFMP being a sectoral group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), wants realistic policy frameworks in this regards from the ministers in line with economic diversification plan of the government.

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