President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, called on his ministers-designate to join hands with him and restore the lost glory of Nigeria in all spheres after they must have been sworn in as substantive ministers.
He said expectations were high from his government, stressing that they must collectively live up to the challenge of meeting the demands of Nigerians.
The president made the call while addressing the 36 ministers-designate at a retreat organized by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, in Abuja.
While congratulating the appointees on their successful screening and confirmation by the Senate, President Buhari, however, asked them to count themselves privileged to be called for national service among millions of Nigerians.
According to Buhari, the retreat marked the first contact of the designates to the machinery of government, urging them to work as a team.
He said: “It is with great pleasure that I address you today, my ministers-designate, at this retreat in preparation for your swearing-in as the cabinet that will run this administration. We must count ourselves privileged to have been chosen among millions of our compatriots at this historic time to be the instruments that will deliver the change we have promised.
“Let me congratulate you for your success at the various levels of screening that culminated in your confirmation by the Senate.
“The work of restoration and renewal is urgent and immense. The expectations of Nigerians are high. Our determination to succeed and change the fortunes of our country must be equal to the challenge.
“I have invited you to join me in this urgent mission for our country. I am convinced that in accepting this invitation you are also equally determined to take part in this patriotic undertaking.
“This retreat, therefore, marks your first official contact with the machinery of government, of which you will soon be an integral part. It is important that you are fully acquainted with the direction and priorities of this government so that we can all move together as a team.”
Cautions against impunity, waste
The president, who recalled that his pact with Nigerians during his campaign was hinged on the promises to tackle corruption, insecurity and revive the economy, also warned them against impunity and waste of resources while in office.
He also gave an insight into what his government had done since assumption of office and urged them to key into the programme.
He said: “My election as President of this country was hinged on my promise to tackle corruption, insecurity and revive the economy.
“We have already taken deliberate measures to plug leakages of government revenue and resources. You all know the steps we have taken to tackle Boko Haram. We have degraded them and in desperation, they are resorting to attacks on soft targets, killing innocent people. Diversification of the economy away from oil will be a major focus of this government.
“We will intervene in mining and agriculture and upgrade the country’s physical and social infrastructure, which will broaden our revenue base and significantly improve the level of employment, especially among the youths. Our economic focus will be policies that will ensure inclusive growth and we will count our achievements based on the number of Nigerians we move out of poverty.
“The objective of this retreat is clearly reflected in the choice of topics which you will be dealing with during the sessions. The need for observing the rule of law is being emphasized to ensure that impunity is removed from government conduct.
“You are coming on board the ship of governance at an interesting time. So much has been said about the state of our economy. It is expected that we make the running of government at all levels as lean as possible, avoid waste and conserve resources. As ministers, you must be the vehicle that will administer the change.
Our main task
“Our main task is to turn our manifesto promises to practice and results. Over the next two days I expect you to have a better understanding of the context in which we have taken the challenge of serving our country, as well as the strategies we have adopted to tackle them. I would also expect you to be even more determined to work as a team, and to live up to the high standards of probity and integrity which Nigerians expect of us.”
Speaking on official communication channel, President Buhari told the ministers-designate to use the Office of his Chief of Staff as official communication channel inline with the presidential system of government.
He said: “Let me remind you that clear and effective communication at all levels is vital in modern management. You must keep in touch with your fellow ministers and share information, so that the conduct of government will be more efficient. In addition, all communication and appointments from you to the Presidency should be routed through the Office of the Chief of Staff as is normal in this Presidential System.”
The retreat which started on low key at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja on Wednesday to end today is themed “Delivering Change: From Percepts to Practice.”