Newly sworn-in ministers, yesterday, on their first day in office, unveiled the measures they would adopt to drive and actualise President Muhammadu Buhari’s change agenda.
Speaking on a day that mixed views trailed the assignment of portfolios to the cabinet members, the ministers promised not to leave any stone unturned in the effort to develop the country.
Ministers, who charted the way forward yesterday include, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Senator Chris Ngige, Labour and Employment; Aisha Mohammed, Environment; Rotimi Amaechi, Transport; and Alhaji Mohammed Bello, Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA.
I’ll ensure service delivery, draw up power roadmap — Fashola
Fashola, who was received with ovation by workers at the Federal Secretariat at 3.15 p.m as he assumed duty after the inauguration of the federal cabinet by President Buhari, assured Nigerians of his preparedness to bring together processes and activities of all the ministries now put under his supervision for effective service delivery.
Fashola was ushered into the office by Mrs Grace Papka, the Director in charge of Human Resources of the ministry and thereafter went into private meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Louis Edozien and directors in the ministry.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Alhaji Mustapha Baba Shehuri, also arrived at the complex where he joined the minister and the directors at the meeting.
Fashola assured the ministry’s leadership of his willingness to learn from them as they are career people who have been on the job for a long time.
He said: “We are here to work with you in solving problems on ground as quickly as possible. We want to know if some of those problems are man-made or systemic. We want information on what has been done, what remains to be done, and what are the future plans. We want to continue from there.”
The Minister said he is also interested in how best to harness the available human resource assets in the ministry and the physical assets, ‘’as all these information will assist us as we hit the ground running. We need to do more so as to regain lost time.”
He told his audience that Nigerians are anxiously waiting for result, which in this case, is improved power supply nation-wide.
Also speaking the Minister of State, Power, Works and Housing, Alhaji Shehuri, said that as a matter of urgency, he wants a detailed ministerial briefing document to serve as a guide as this will ensure proper take off.
The Director, Human Resources, Mrs. Grace Papka, gave copies of the requested documents to the two ministers and a time-table for proposed briefings by Departments and Agencies in the power sector.
Environment improvement: We will keep to time frame — Aisha Mohammed
On her part, the Minister of Environment, Aisha Mohammed said she is ready to achieve the mandate given to the ministry by President Buhari.
Aisha stated this during her maiden ministerial press briefing, where she said the ministry will ensure that the time frame given to it will be used to make sure that the environment improves.
She said: “As the minister of state has reiterated, there is a time frame and within that time frame we have to deliver the dividends of this administration to our people.”
According to her: “The one commitment that we can make is that as we read through this brief that you’ve got here, it is about us building on the successes that we have in this ministry and ensuring that the teams that we have are working effectively with the skills that will take it to another level.
“It certainly can’t be business as usual because the President has said it and I hope that the Ministry of Environment will give the support to the Minister of State and myself to make real difference and to be a role model for what we mean by that in the country.
“The country has environmental issues everywhere. There is no part of this country that is devoid of the challenges that we have and what we need to do is to find the resources, those that are within the country and the other two tiers of government, the resources that are outside the borders of Nigeria to make sure that we make a considerable impact with what we have.’’
In his remark, the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril, said he and the Minister will work as a team “because only with concerted effort and team work can we move this ministry and the nation forward.”
In this regard he said, “we ask for your cooperation. Remember that political appointees have no patience because time is not on their side.’’
We will create massive employment — Ngige
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, assured Nigerians that his ministry will make frantic efforts in creating jobs for the teeming Nigerian youths.
Addressing members of the management and staff of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on his assumption of duty in Abuja, Senator Ngige said that the government would wage war against unemployment in the country.
“We will be at the fore-front of the battle to stop the scourge of unemployment in the country. We must as a people put on our thinking caps so that we can chart the way forward for employment generation,” he said.
He emphasized that government alone cannot provide everybody with employment as it can only create enabling environment for all other sectors to thrive, adding that the Ministry of Labour and Employment is part of the engineering that will pave the way for the private sector to generate jobs through development focused labour laws.
Senator Ngige affirmed zero tolerance for leakages and corrupt practices in the country, saying: “We are the catalysts, the change agents of the change era. If we block leakages in our systems the country will be better for it, as resources will be made available for the economic growth of the nation.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State, James Ocholi, SAN, expressed confidence in the expertise of the management and staff of the ministry, which he believes, is in line with the change mantra of the present administration
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Clement Illoh, assured the ministers of the full cooperation of the management and staff of the ministry including its agencies, to actualise their mandates.
Your task is enormous, Tinubu tells ministers
National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, urged the newly sworn-in ministers to hit the ground running to tackle the enormous challenges before Nigerians.
Tinubu, in a statement, said: “Today, you begin the hard work to help President Muhammadu Buhari deliver on the promise of change he has committed to. The challenges before you are enormous.
“People’s expectations are very high and expectedly so. Their hope is hinged on the change our party promised. You are now the foot soldiers of that change.
“You have to be creative, proactive and bold. You are the men and women of talent and experience of the moment and are lucky to be chosen. After the luck comes work. It is a new dawn for our country. Virtually every facet of our national life needs urgent attention.
“After the devastating effects of the mismanagement by the previous administration on our economy and the psyche of Nigerians, you have been selected to help bring Nigeria back from the brink. You bear the responsibility to move Nigeria forward into the rank of developed nations.
“Let me share with you the words of Aneesh Chopra from his book Innovative State. His words resonate for you all today: ‘This is about creating an Innovative State. A government for the 21st Century. One that engages its diverse society, encourages participation and creates a partnership towards problem solving’.
“I leave you with these words and congratulate you once more.”
Bello, 16th FCT Minister
The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Bello, resumed with a vow to build on the achievements of his predecessors.
Bello, who arrived at the FCTA Secretariat, Area 11 soon after he was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari, was received by the new Permanent Secretary, Babatope Ajakaiye, whose appointment was announced, yesterday evening.
He had a brief meeting with some directors and senior officials of FCTA and Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, in his conference room.
He paid tributes to the former FCT ministers and commended the staff for the way they had worked to build a modern city from scratch.
The minister called for re-dedication from the staff to fast track the development of the FCT with good infrastructure and services because “the FCT is the nearest to public eyes. Its success or failure can easily be seen.”
Bello, who promised to work closely with all stakeholders to achieve the mandate of President Buhari, called for support to enable his administration make Abuja a better place than it used to be.
Don’t mislead us, Uguru warns staff
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru, and his Minister of State, Cladius Daramola, yesterday, resumed duties with a warning to staff not to mislead them.
Pastor Uguru, who made the remarks shortly after receiving the handing over note from the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Wakama Asifieka, who also assumed duties about 24 hours earlier, urged directors and other top management staff of the ministry to guide the new leadership with transparency “because you are on the ground.”
He said further that the new team required the cooperation of all staff, including the messengers to deliver on the mandate of the ministry.
He said: “We are going to work with Nigerians from different backgrounds and so you have the duties to guide the leadership and the ministers.
“Be open to one another. When there is anything you will want to hide, tell us and we will hide it well together. Avoid scheming for popularity. I believe in working together and not individual championship.”
He asked each department head to come up with memos detailing the requirements and activities of their departments.
Let’s work for Nigerians – Adeosun
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Folakemi Adeosun, yesterday assumed duties with a charge to the directors in the ministry to work assiduously with her to deliver economic policies that would meet the expectations of Nigerians.
On arriving the ministry, Mrs. Adeosun held a brief meeting with the directors, where she was given the hand-over note by the most senior director of the ministry, Alhaji Haruna Mohammed.
She told them that the Buhari administration had a clear direction towards returning the nation to the path of growth and that a lot depended on the management and staff of the ministry.
Industry, Trade, Investment
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, and his state counterpart, Aisha Abubakar, assumed duty yesterday, with a pledge to hit the ground running.
Both officials reported at the ministry’s headquarters in Area 1, Garki at about 4.10 p.m. and were received by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Aliyu Bisalla and other officials of the ministry.
Enelamah said he was excited over his appointment and the choice of ministry assigned to him by the President, considering his experience in the world of finance and investment.
The minister commended the out-gone acting Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Ajiaya Mammam, and the entire staff for effectively running the ministry in the past six months.
He solicited for their cooperation and support with a promise to work with them for the realisation of the Federal Government’s change agenda.
The Minister of State, Aisha Abubakar, later reported at her office where she was also received by officials.
The permanent secretary, Alhaji Aliyu Bisalla, gave her an overview of the ministry’s mandate and pledged the cooperation and support of the entire staff.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after a tour of some offices under her purview, Abubakar also pledged to give her best in moving the ministry forward.
I don’t have the magic wand — Kachikwu
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, said that he does not have the magic wand to turn around the fortunes of the oil and gas sector, but will work with other stakeholders and place emphasis on finding more oil and gas, monetizing these resources and putting money in the hands of the Federal Government.
Kachikwu also stated that the current fuel crisis being witnessed across the country would end in the next few days, as Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, had increased its fuel supply by about 4,000 truckloads in the last three days, as against 2,500 truckloads per day in the past.
Speaking on assumption of office in Abuja, after his inauguration by President Buhari, Kachikwu said: “I do not have the magic wand. I might have some good ideas, but those ideas will have to come from all of us and all of us will have to buy into it.”
He disclosed that prominence will be placed on growing income, cutting costs and in helping the federation stabilize, noting that these steps were necessary guide to the direction his administration was headed.
To continue as NNPC’s MD
Kachikwu, who also stated that he would continue in office as the Group Managing Director of NNPC, added that the country presently has products to meet 22 to 23 days of fuel demand and assured that the outstanding subsidy payments approved by the President would soon be paid to oil marketers immediately the government gets the approval of the National Assembly.
He assured staff of the Petroleum Ministry and parastatals under the ministry of an inclusive and conducive working environment.
He said: “One thing is certain, whatever time I spend here, it is going to be spent with a lot of respect for the dignity of people. I am a very respectful person and I give as much as I expect to have.”
Kachikwu further stated that executives of the various parastatals would be engaged with to see if they have the capacity and ability to deliver the change mantra.
On the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, he said: “Government believes in the bill still. Government wants to see the PIB come through. However, government has indicated that there is a need to look at the PIB as was submitted to the sixth assembly and try and tinker with it.
“There are all kinds of issues. One of them is whether we need to yank out the fiscal terms and develop them into a different law, rely on existing laws, amend them or whether we do that as a separate component of law.”