Shun impunity, Buhari tells ministers-designate
Makes case for closer ties among African nations
THE need for the incoming members of the Federal cabinet to observe the rule of law and shun impunity was among the major issues President Muhammadu Buhari addressed yesterday, when he declared open a two-day retreat he is having with his ministers-designate.
He also told them to work as a team.
The theme of the retreat is “Delivering Change: From Precepts to Practice.
In his address, the president said: “The objective of this retreat is clearly reflected in the choice of topics which you will be dealing with during the sessions. The need to observe the rule of law is being emphasised to ensure that impunity is removed from government conduct.
Also, yesterday, the president stressed the need for Nigeria and other African countries to close ranks and work together to protect the people.
Speaking at an audience with a Special Envoy of President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Agapito Mba Mokuy in his office at the Presidential Villa, Buhari said since terrorism does not respect national borders, the international community must urgently evolve and implement more effective collaborative measures to enhance global security.
Buhari, who noted that the retreat was aimed at getting the ministers-designate acquainted with the direction of his administration, also reminded them of his campaign promises of fighting corruption and insecurity as well as revamping the economy.
The president said the ministers-designate must count themselves privileged to have been chosen to serve among millions of Nigerians and that as they prepare to take offices soon, they must observe the rule of law and shun impunity in the conduct of government activities.
“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 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.
Apart from working together as a team, the President also clearly spelt out the channel of communication between him and the ministers, which he said must be routed through the Office of the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President.
His words: “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.”
Buhari reiterated the uniqueness of the retreat, noting that it would shape the context his administration would take.
He described the task of restoration and renewal of the country as urgent and immense, noting that the expectations of Nigerians were 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.”
Buhari also stressed that his election was hinged on his 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 youth.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo delivered a paper on: “The Economy Where we Are,” while a Law lecturer at the Bayero University Kano, (BUK), Prof. Auwalu Yadudu spoke on: “Overview of the Nigerian Legal System and Constitution” among other papers presented by experts.
Buhari had told Mokuy it was to foster good neighbourliness “that I visited all of Nigeria’s neighbouring countries immediately after my assumption of office and we will continue to do our best to strengthen regional and international cooperation against terrorism,” the President said.
Mokuy, who had told the President that the security of Nigeria was very important to the entire West African region, delivered an invitation from President Mbasogo to Buhari to visit Equatorial Guinea at his earliest convenience.