President Bola Tinubu has expressed the need by his ministers and political aides to focus on the agenda of his administration to alleviate poverty in Nigeria.
Tinubu who stated this after a three-day retreat for ministers, permanent secretaries, presidential aides, and other high-ranking government officials held at the presidential villa in Abuja on Friday, urged them not to prioritise their ambitions over the mission of his administration.
The President emphasized that the participants have a collective responsibility to reshape the nation’s narrative, encouraging them to engage in open dialogues to solve issues related to Nigeria.
President Tinubu further underscored the importance of unity among officials to steer the nation away from the challenges akin to “elephantiasis.”
He however made it clear that no excuses should be entertained, not just from his ministers but also from himself, as he is determined to deliver results to the Nigerian people.
The President also expressed pride in both his successful participation and victory in the 2023 presidential election, as well as his favourable legal outcomes in court cases.
He said: “We have gathered here to sharpen the future, no threat about it.
“The responsibilities we bear are not just titles; they are the hopes and aspirations 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.
“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 every one of you. And I am proud of myself, too. I went for an election and won with your support; they took me to court, and I won.”
Urging on the commitment of the ministers and other government officials to work together as a team to achieve the goals of the administration, President Tinubu said: “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?
“We have a responsibility to our country to make sure we change entirely 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 leaving me alone. I’m going home; you may not have a home.
“There’s nothing you can do successfully without good healthcare and poverty reduction. Like I said before, poverty is not a shameful thing but 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 me 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 further noted that his administration has tinkered with its focus areas, saying: “Area one, reform the economy to deliver sustained inclusive growth;
“Two, strengthen national security for peace and prosperity; boost agriculture to achieve food security; unlock energy and natural resources for sustainable development; enhance infrastructure and transportation as enablers of growth;
“Focus on education, health and social investment as essential pillars of development; and accelerate diversification through industrialisation, digitisation and creative industry, manufacturing and innovative technology.”
Explaining a synthesis of the key recommendations from technical sessions of the retreat, the Secretary to Government of the Federation, George Akume, announced that the retreat had raised the approval threshold for public procurement and encouraged open bidding for transparency.
It recommended the 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 programs and conduct proper pre-and post-project assessments to determine the efficacy of the programs.
Improve the 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 the 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; and forming a tariff structure to enable trade while supporting domestic production.
Other recommendations are: to incorporate more equity financing, rather than debt financing, for fiscal operations and ensure the annual budget is aligned with strategic priorities, among others.