Be selfless, lift Nigerians out of poverty, Tinubu urges ministers

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President Bola Tinubu on Friday urged his ministers to shelve their personal ambitions and focus on his administration’s effort to lift 50 million Nigerians out of poverty.

“You’re not here to make excuses, neither am I…you must put aside personal ambitions and focus on the progress of our nation,” Tinubu said in his closing remarks at the end of the three-day cabinet retreat for ministers, presidential aides, Permanent Secretaries, and top government functionaries, held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.

The President told participants that they owed Nigerians the responsibility of changing the narrative about the country, arguing that they must iron out any discrepancies through constructive dialogue.

“The renewed hope agenda is more than economic growth. Like I said at the opening we can spend the money but we cannot spend the people. 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 poverty. Like I said before, poverty is not a shameful thing but is not acceptable,” he noted.

Tinubu called for deeper collaboration between the Ministers who are appointees and permanent secretaries to ensure that the country recovers from “elephantiasis.”

He reasoned, “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.”

The President who said he was proud of the ministers and the deliberations of the past 72 hours also noted that he is proud of himself, stating “I ran for election I won, they took me to court and I also won.”

To the ministers, he spoke, “I want to obtain a promise that we are going to work as a team, we are going to work for Nigerians.

“If you agree stand up and say, I am a Nigerian” to which the participants all stood up and chorused the phrase thrice.

The President said the retreat emphasised several focus areas.

He listed them to include: “Area one, reform the economy to deliver sustain inclusive growth.

“Two, strengthen national security for peace and prosperity; Boost agriculture to achieve food security; and Unlock energy and natural resources for sustainable development.”

Others are, “Enhanced infrastructure and transportation as enablers of growth; Focus on education, health and social investment as essential pillars of development; Accelerate diversification through industrialisation, digitization and creative industry, manufacturing and innovative technology.”

Speaking earlier, the Special Adviser to the President on Policy and Coordination, Hadiza Usman, gave an overview of the details of the Key Performance Indicators.

Usman said a presidential delivery tracker would ensure that all deliverables are easily identified and monitored.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, read out some of the recommendations from the three-day exercise.

They include early submission of memos to the cabinet office where a timeline of Wednesdays was set for memo submission, ahead of Monday meetings of the Federal Executive Council.

It was also agreed that Permanent Secretaries will henceforth accompany their Ministers at FEC meetings for easy flow of information, especially during memo defense.

The retreat participants also recommended the restoration of the FCT master plan.

Under the Marine Economy sub unit, they called for the reduction of operators at the port from 11 institutions to four.

In the trade and investment sector, they argued that the government focuses on solid minerals development to strengthen new revenue sources.

Participants recommended training for technical support system including welders, technicians, amongst others.

The retreat also called for prioritisation of artificial intelligence, while it recommended that performance bond be developed for civil servants, rewarding good behaviours and punishing deviants

A highlight of the retreat was the symbolic signing of a performance bond by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, while his counterparts signed theirs on their seats.