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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Get down to work, Buhari charges new ministers

President Muhammadu Bu­hari swore in 36 new ministers yesterday, with a charge that they should get to work speed­ily.

The ministers had taken their oaths before the President in batches of four, before they were assigned portfolios. This was just as he scrapped some ministries with their reduction from 42 to 24 and the merging of others.

The swearing-in was wit­nessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; the Speaker of the House of Rep­resentatives, Yakubu Dogara, some state governors and fam­ily members of the ministers.

In his brief remarks in the Council Chamber of the Presi­dential Villa, Buhari said he was mindful of the need to constitute a cabinet that will deliver on the expectations of Nigerians.

He stressed that his admin­istration would work hard to deliver, “a prosperous nation respected for the right reasons, and whose citizens can hold up their heads anywhere in the world”.

The President therefore, ex­pressed confidence that the cali­bre of people he has assembled are capable of delivering on the campaign promises of the rul­ing All Progressives Congress (APC), adding: “Our ministers must proceed to work speed­ily”, in order to justify the con­fidence placed in them through their conduct and by their per­formance in their various posi­tions.

“We are optimistic that bring­ing this set of ministers into the service of our country today, is a step in the right direction, a timely move towards realising our positive goals for our coun­try”.

President Buhari said he con­sulted widely before constitut­ing the cabinet and assigning them portfolios, stressing that the focus of his administra­tion would be to diversify the economy.

He said he made deliber­ate efforts to ensure that those appointed were round pegs in round holes, while showing sensitivity to the nation’s di­versity as a people, in order to avoid previous practice, where square pegs were put in round holes, leading to poor perfor­mance that impacted negatively on the country.

Buhari said: “Since we as­sumed office in May, I have been mindful of the need to ensure that the appointment of new ministers translates into putting round pegs in round holes, while showing sensitivity to our diversity as a people and our various positions as groups of stakeholders in our country.

“I have also been conscious of the need not to repeat such mistakes of the past , where the right people were allocated the wrong portfolios, which trans­lated into their performing poor­ly, to our collective detriment despite their obvious capabili­ties. Also, I have responded to the counsel to consult as widely as possible, given the need to build a stable and all-inclusive government, by reaching across our various ethnic and political divides.”

He added: “While working hard to maximise revenue from oil in the face of a sharp decline in the price for the commodity, we are determined to diversify the economy in agriculture to enhance employment and ex­plore solid minerals as a major revenue earner.

“The primary aim is to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of such staples as rice and wheat and to become a major consumer and exporter of both items as well as solid min­erals. We intend to pursue poli­cies that will generate massive employment for millions of our youth.”

Scrapped ministries as an­nounced by Buhari, include the Ministries of Power, Police Affairs, Special Duties, Works, Youth Development, Land and Housing as well as Culture and Tourism. Under the new arrangement, the ministries of power, works and housing and urban development, which were before now, on their own, have been merged and now known as Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, with for­mer governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, as the min­ister.

Also, the Ministry of Youth Development and the Sports Ministry, which hitherto, were separate ministries, have been merged and known as Ministry of Youths and Sports, headed by Solomon Dalong.

The scrapped Ministries of Culture and Tourism Develop­ment as well as Police Affairs and Special Duties, are now un­der the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Fed­eration (SGF).

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