President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday has told the newly appointed Ministers that their new roles is a call to selfless service, duty and patriotism.
Buhari, delivering his address at the retreat held for Ministers-designate said they are expected to contribute their selfless quota to the development of the country.
”I welcome you all to this very important induction retreat for newly appointed Cabinet Ministers, the second set under my Administration and other top Government officials, and congratulate all Ministers’ designate on the successful screening and confirmation of your nominations by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The screening exercise which was broadcasted to the public on live Television, was conducted with decorum and was without rancor. I most heartedly commend the leadership of the 9th National Assembly that facilitated the prompt conduct of the confirmatory process for Ministerial nominees, that has led us where we are today,” Buhari said.
” The organization of retreats for political appointees at inception of an Administration, is done to ensure that appointees are in tune with their roles and the responsibilities of the position they occupy in Government. This retreat also seeks to sensitise participants on the focus of this Administration and align our views on the options available to us, for which we must make choices having realized that there are many responsibilities requiring our unified decisions in order to be in one accord at all times. It would also afford us the opportunity to consider more options, which we may not have thought about, in the search for solutions to the numerous development challenges confronting our dear country.
” Your appointment as Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria among numerous persons that are qualified for the positions is not by chance. It is a call to duty, selfless service and patriotism to the Nigerian people.
”The principal thrust of this Administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, tackle evolving challenges and chart a bold plan for our collective resolve to take Nigeria to the next level. The tasks ahead of us are numerous but with hard work, dedication to duty, uncommon zeal, justice and fairness, I can assure you that we shall succeed in our commitment to delivering the dividends of democracy to the citizenry.
”Honourable Ministers, retreats afford us the opportunity to introspect over our course of actions and participants would draw the line between required, relevant and alternative ideas and actions. At the level of Government, the courses of action derive from Policies that guide implementation of strategies in the sectors.
”Policies as rational choices and the actions and inactions of governments, have been articulated in all the sectors to guide the direction of governance. They outline the situations in all sectors and the broad strategies to manage and achieve in them. I therefore urge you to utilize the policy documents enunciated in our various sectors maximally so that we would maintain consistency that would be transferable, inheritable and could be continued by subsequent administrations.
”Distinguished participants, let me reiterate that this Administration has placed security, fight against corruption and revamping of the economy on the front burner of its Agenda. We believe that we can sustain and transfer our legacies if they were set on sustainable policies and institutional pillars. Our believe is in tandem with our Next Level Agenda and I wish to elaborate on these points.
”We are confronted with security challenges including insurgency brought about by the dying embers of Boko Haram terrorist activities in the North East, and other criminal acts such as kidnaping, armed robbery, banditry, oil bunkering and vandalism and secession agitations, among other sundry crimes in all parts of the country. We did not conceive the containment of these threats on immediate platforms but on the re-design of the Security Architecture which included definition of new philosophies in leadership, personnel, training, equipment and operational strategies. We have re-aligned the command structures of the theatres of operations, established new structures in the military and police, such that command and operations are in proximity. We have carried out the restructuring in the Armed Forces, Police and other security sub-systems, as well as re-aligned their operational frameworks to achieve conducive grounds for effective Joint Operations.
”It has been very difficult to make significant progress in view of the impacts of our long history of negligence and high-wired corruption and resistance to change. However, we have pushed forward relentlessly, upholding the obligation of Government to guarantee the security of lives and properties, for the well-being of all Nigerians.
”Fighting corruption has been herculean because the privileged elites who lead the way have rejected integrity, transparency and jettisoned the rule of law and procedure. They are supported by segments in our society who praise and honour corrupt public officer holders. It would not be harsh to describe corruption as terrorism because it destroys productivity, causes inflations, rewards laziness and have negative multiplier effects on the economy. We have noted that corruption forms a huge portion of the illicit financial flows out of Africa annually. We have to look at the further implications of corruption in two broad dimensions.
”First, corruption drains funds meant for development which has led to the collapse of the productive sectors of the economy requiring government’s intervention in the agriculture (textile, cocoa, rice, corn and millets, cassava and animal husbandry), oil and gas, industrialization, solid minerals, power, banking, insurance, health, education and telecommunications. Secondly, it destroys the capital for infrastructure such that roads, railway, hospitals, etc., which are foundations for national development were often abandoned.
”We have made consistent efforts to build strong institutional capacities in the fight against corruption by strengthening our anti-corruption Agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) supported by a Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), such that they work independently and jointly being guided by the Law.
”Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have navigated the economy through storms and we need to steady the ship for us to achieve real growth. We have the capacity to grow the economy and we shall do so because part of our solution to insecurity and improved per capita income is anchored on employment and empowerment. This Administration also launched the National Social Investment Programmes (the N-POWER programmes) to address the immediate needs to grow small and medium scale businesses for the employment of the youth. We have worked very hard to pull the economy out of recession in 2018-2019.
”This Administration had designed an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, that is focused on restoring growth by investing in people, to build a globally competitive economy. This was anchored on a sustainable Medium-Term Economic Sector Strategy (MTESS) and the Ease of Doing Business Environment (EBES) that has restructured the investment climate in Nigeria. Through EBES and accompanied Executive Orders, we have reduced encumbrances to investment, transit and trade. We have designed plans to revitalize several aspects of agriculture such as livestock, cassava, rice, cocoa and cotton and ensured that inputs like fertilizers and pesticides reach end-users on time at affordable rates. We have completed the Cadastral mappings of prospective mineral zones which identified deposits of solid minerals that would be mined commercially and industrially.
”We have made efforts to support trade and transit by expanding the platforms of transportation such that exchanges could be seamless. Our investments in railway and roads development have been massive and unprecedented in the history of this country. We have been expanding power generation and distribution with investments in Mambilla and increased access to gas for generating plants. The objectives were to increase productivity from industries, small and medium scale businesses and encourage inventions. The programmes have been galvanized under zonal structures whereby the capacities and contribution of each economic zone are calculated into Gross National Product (GNP).
”Distinguished participants, we are conscious of the nature of international economic relations whereby the forces of globalization and deglobalization are pulling countries at the same time. We have cooperated with ECOWAS, African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) and other development partners in the international systems such as the European Union (EU), and we shall continue to do so. In Africa, we will continue to explore means to expand trade, investment and movement of labour within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty, a flagship projects of the AU Agenda 2063. Nigeria endorsed the AfCFTA treaty because of its projected potential to create a single continental market, the largest in the world, for goods and services, with free movement of business, people and investment.
”However, the economy needed to be supported by manpower that is competitive and adequate. Hence, this Administration is committed to improving education to provide professionals; healthcare to provide medical care for the population who form the market and consumers and we are improving telecommunication to increase the reach, exchanges and connect people. We have encouraged relations with emerging economies who are willing to partner with us based on existing conditions defined in our policies. Our borders are not closed to foreign investment but they must be viable, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
”We have conducted our economic, security and anti-corruption pillars on Foreign Policy whose interest is protective of the citizens. We are conscious of places in Africa where xenophobia is being visited on Nigerians. We are also aware of global cut-throat competitions to dump manufactured goods in Africa which cripples domestic manufacturing investment initiatives. It is not a new phenomenon but we must protect our sovereignty where we have the capacity.
”As we all are aware, we have strengthened our common resolve with neighbouring countries with our neighbours to fight insurgency, banditry and other sundry crimes under a joint multinational force. Many countries are cooperating with us on the anti-corruption crusade to recover our stolen commonwealth stashed abroad. We are also pleading that they enforce their own anti-money laundering laws to prevent acceptance of Nigerians’ stolen monies and assets into their economies. We shall continue to explore and exhaust all diplomatic means at all times which does not constrain us from taking desirable decisions whenever the need arises.
”Honourable Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Aides, and Heads of Government Agencies, the tasks ahead of us are indeed numerous, complicated, multi-dimensional and onerous. We must however remain resolute, undaunted by the enormity of our challenges, as revived by this new mandate. We need to consolidate previous milestones and set new ones that would be sustainable, transferable and inheritable. We must work together to sustain the economic growth, curb inflation and shore up our external reserves.
”This Administration is open to ingenious initiatives to increase growth in our various sectors. Nigeria has advanced and new ideas are streaming into the systems on regular basis. Let us arise, search and explore the options that would be thrown at us so that we can take Nigeria to the Next Level. Above all, as top government functionaries of an Administration whose core policy option is focused on anti-corruption, security and revamping the economy, you must be seen to live above board. I firmly believe, that with renewed zeal and total commitment to our duties, in fairness and respect for the rules and principles that guides the public service, we shall succeed.
”Once again, I congratulate you on your appointments and wish you a fruitful retreat. Thank you.”