President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the ministers-designate to hit the ground running, bearing in mind that four years is not a very long time to deliver on their targets.
“Majority of our people are poor and are anxiously hoping for a better life, President Buhari said at the end of the two-day presidential retreat for ministers-designate, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries at the State House Conference Center.
“Our responsibility as leaders of this great country is to meet these basic needs for our people.”
” 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.”
Buhari said although the retreat has ended, their work was just beginning, urging them to use the opportunity to meet needs of the people who are poor and anxiously hoping for a better life.
President Buhari said that the people of Nigeria have great expectations from the current government.
The President recalled that his administration inherited many challenges from his predecessors some of which include: “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.”
He said in his first time, were able to recapture “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.
“Whilst we have obvious successes to celebrate, the challenges ahead are significant as you would have observed in detail over these two days. 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.
“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.
“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.”
Buhari noted that while the challenges that lie ahead 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, Boss Mustapha who read the resolutions of the retreat said, participants agree 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 as well as resolve the liquidity challenge in power sector and facilitate private sector investment.
According to him, “This is an integral measure to ensure we deliver on our agreed objectives.”
Mustapha said: “We have spent the past two days agreeing to and prioritizing 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 KPls (key performance indicators) 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; 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.”
The SGF said 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.
“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.”
Mustapha reminded the ministers, they 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.”
He SGF noted that as they carry out the implement, “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.”