Hurdles ahead of new ministers

Barring any last minute alteration, President Muhammadu Buhari will today inaugurate the Federal Executive Council (FEC) composed of 43 ministers and other cabinet members that will bear the burden of the implementation of the Next Level agenda of Mr President. Already, the ministers-designate are technocrats some of whom are continuing from the first term change mantra of President Buhari anchored on the tripod of the fight against corruption, insecurity and revitalising the economy.

The inauguration of the Next Level cabinet, which is coming much earlier than in the president’s first term in 2015, is a good omen indicative of the fact that President Buhari is not just desirous of achieving the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) manifesto of welfarism and egalitarianism but also in meeting the high expectations of Nigerians to leave the country in 2023 better than he met it on May 29, 2015.

To underscore this philosophy, President Buhari told the ministers-designate that they must work as a team, stressing that his administration would rely on them to implement policies and programmes to lift Nigerians out of poverty. The president also described as frightening Nigeria’s “looming” population status, which he put at 200 million today but has been estimated by the United Nations (UN) to rise to 411 million by 2050.

He told the would-be ministers at the opening of the two-day retreat for them in Abuja on Monday that “working as a team demands that we know what the next person is doing.” The retreat is to familiarise the incoming cabinet members with governance process and to let them know expectations of them.

President Buhari said: “As ministers, I am counting on you together with advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to build upon our road map of policies, programmes and projects that will lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity.

“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.”

He implored his audience to cultivate the team spirit, educating them that even though they have been chosen from their various states in line with the dictate of the constitution, it is necessary for them to work as Nigerians by engaging in open communications as lack of communication leads to sub-optimal performance.

He also told them that they would be responsible for policy development and implementation in their various ministries, departments and agencies in conformity with government priorities. He tasked them to ensure that agencies under their watch are not only effective and efficient but also accountable in the discharge of their responsibilities.

The president also told participants at the retreat to see their appointments as a great privilege and to ensure that they put in their best because Nigeria needs frontline individuals to address its many challenges. He warned them to prepare for arduous commitments, which would require long hours of work and acute labour all geared towards optimal performance.

Buhari seized the occasion to give account of activities of his administration in the first term. He said: “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.”

Speaking on the country’s looming population, Buhari said by the UN estimates that Nigeria would be third in terms of population density, behind only China and India come 2050, the situation would only be dreadful if the country opted to be idle by waiting for development partners to proffer solutions.

He implored the incoming cabinet to key into the vision with a view to putting the people on the path of prosperity, including achieving his administration’s commitment to lay the foundation to lift 100 million people from poverty within 10 years. According to him, achieving this goal will alter the status quo and place Nigeria among great countries of the world.

At the event, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the retreat was designed to prepare and sensitise cabinet members with policies and projects of government as well as the roadmap towards the delivery of its agenda from 2019 to 2023.

Blueprint congratulates the new ministers and urges them to demonstrate a high sense of nationalism and patriotism in the discharge of their onerous responsibilities as honourable ministers of the federal republic. We also urge them to see their appointment from a population of over 200 million as a divine call to service rather than for personal aggrandisement. Consequently, they are required to give 100 per cent loyalty and allegiance to Mr President and the constitution because when the chips are down the bucks will stop at the president’s table, being the donee of the mandate of the Nigerian people.  

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