Nigeria President Bola Tinubu has charged his 48 Ministers, advisers and other aides to put aside their personal interest and focus on his government’s immediate concern towards pulling Nigeria out of poverty.
The President gave the advise Friday at the close of the three-day retreat for ministers, permanent secretaries, presidential aides and other top government officials at the State House, Abuja
He told the participants that they have the responsibility to change the narrative about the country, noting that if they have any problem about Nigeria, they should have a conversation about it.
President Tinubu stressed the need for the officials to bond together and ensure that the country recovers from “elephantiasis.”
The President declared that they cannot make any excuses just as himself will not be giving Nigerians any excuses.
He prided himself for contesting and winning the 2023 presidential poll as well as all the cases in the courts.
President Tinubu said: “We’ have gathered here to sharp the future, no threat about it. The responsibility we bear are not just titles, they are hope and aspiration of millions of Nigerians.
“You might be ready to forget about the rest of the world but as a Nigerian, let’s go out there, let’s bond together and make sure our country is fully recovered from elephantiasis.
“Let me remind you that you are not here to make excuses neither am I. I’m your friend, your brother, a father and grandfather.
“You must put outside personal ambition and focus on the progress of our nation. It is through this that we can be truly proud. “I am proud standing before you. I’m very very proud of everyone of you. And I am proud of myself too. I went for election and won with your support, they took me to court and I won.”
The President also extracted the commitment of the ministers and other government officials to work together as a team to achieve the goals of his government asking: “we are about to close this three day cabinet retreat, are we proud that we are Nigerian? Are we sure that we’ve done this? “Is the responsibility of the permanent secretary clear In partnership with the Minister, is it clear? Are we one family? “Since we are one family and one nation and we are in this vehicle together to change the narrative and bring about economic prosperity of our country, are we ready?”
The President further told his ministers and other aides: “We have a responsibility to our country to make sure we change completely the narrative about Nigeria.
“If we have problems, let’s talk to one another, let’s have conversations, gentle conversations about our country. It’s not about just leave me alone I’m going home, you may not have a home.
“There’s nothing you can do successfully without good healthcare, reduction in poverty. Like I said before, poverty is not a shameful thing but it is not acceptable. Are we going to dig our people out of it?
“If you look at your background no matter where you are today, there’s a trace of poverty beneath. So it’s left for you and I to navigate this ship out of poverty.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, I am confident now with the attendance, concentration, you’ve seen the quality and the character of ministers, you’ve seen it.”
He stressed that his administration has tinkered with its focus areas, saying: “area one, reform the economy to deliver sustain inclusive growth;
“Two, strengthen national security for peace and prosperity; boost agriculture to achieve food security; unlock energy and natural resources for sustainable development; enhanced infrastructure and transportation as enablers of growth, focus on education, health and social investment as essential pillars of development; and accelerate diversification through industrialisation, digitization and creative industry, manufacturing and innovative technology.”
President Tinubu also directed the reactivation of the Presidential Delivery Tracker to empower Nigerians to track the implementation of projects across the country in real time.
The President said his determination to ensure the active and direct participation of citizens in governance is unwavering, noting that all Nigerians must be given the opportunity to track and report on the implementation of projects across the country.
President Tinubu said he has asked his Special Adviser on Policy and Coordination, Hadiza Bala Usman, to immediately reactivate the tracking system in a way that maximally leverages on cutting-edge digital innovation to provide real time oversight capability for the benefit of all Nigerians.
He emphasized the importance of data in governance, saying: “Data is the lifeblood of effective governance. It enables us to understand the challenges we face so that we can design and implement effective solutions as well as monitor and evaluate our progress. Without data, we are flying blind.”
The climax of the retreat was the signing of performance bonds by ministers and permanent secretaries alongside President Tinubu, who charged all implementing authorities to unfailingly demonstrate diligence, innovative thinking, commitment, and an unrelenting focus on results.
Outlining the key recommendations from technical sessions of the retreat, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, announced that the retreat has raised the approval threshold for public procurement and encouraged open bidding for transparency.
It recommended formulation of a standardized checklist detailing appointment criteria for Ministers and Heads of Agencies and also, improved alignment of the budget for the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to the president’s vision, strategic goals and relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Other key recommendations are to evaluate the efficiency of previous federal government Intervention programmmes and conduct of proper pre-and post-project assessments to determine the efficacy of the programmes.
Improve judicial process by allowing promoted judges to complete pending cases in their new positions.
Revive the executive-legislature conference/tripartite meetings to discuss pre-budget issues ahead of time and to define consequences and accelerate prosecution of individuals, including lawmakers, who do not complete contracts awarded to them.
On policies and priorities for the Renewed Hope agenda, the retreat recommended reforming the economy to deliver sustained inclusive growth; reforming tariff structure to enable trade, while still supporting domestic production.
Other recommendations are: Incorporate more equity financing, rather than debt financing for fiscal operations and to ensure annual budget is aligned with strategic priorities, among others.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja