With the end of the two-day retreat hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, the President is now set to inaugurate his cabinet, today.
The 43 ministers-designate were recently screened and confirmed by the Dr Ahmed Lawan-led Ninth Senate.
The ministers include, Hon Uche Oga (Abia), Dr Chris Ngige and Mrs Sharon Ikeazor (Anambra), Dr Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi),Mr Geoffrey Onyeama (Enugu),Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba (Imo) and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
Others are Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Sunday Dare, Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Pauline Tallen (Plateau), Adamu Adamu, among others.
In his closing remarks at the two-day Presidential Retreat for the incoming ministers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Buhari told the new cabinet members to be conscious of the fact that four years was not a long time.
He told the incoming ministers to submit any request meant for him to his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari and all executive matters to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
The President also charged the ministers-designate who are expected to be inaugurated, today, to work collaboratively and purposefully so as to achieve quicker results.
He told the new ministers to make sure that they engage and benefit from the experience of the older ministers and former governors in the cabinet.
According to him, “In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Public service is not easy work, and at times it can be thankless. I am therefore charging you all to see this opportunity to serve as an honour, to give your best to deliver on this mandate, for a more prosperous Nigeria, not for some, but for all Nigerians.
“You will find that working collaboratively and purposefully will enable us to achieve quicker results, recognizing that four years is not a very long time.
“For the new ministers, make sure you engage and benefit from the experience of the older ministers and former governors in the cabinet. After two days, we have come to the end of a successful retreat. However, you will agree that our work is just beginning.”
The President said that the last two days of the retreat had been very instructive for him personally, because he had had the opportunity to know many of the new ministers-designate better.
He further said that he was pleased to see that they have all equally enjoyed debating and deliberating on the various challenges before them over the next four years.
He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, majority of our people are poor and are anxiously hoping for a better life. A Nigeria in which they do not have to worry about what they will eat, where they will live or if they can afford to pay for their children’s education or healthcare.
“Our responsibility as leaders of this great country is to meet these basic needs for our people. As I mentioned yesterday, this administration inherited many challenges from our predecessors to mention a few: “A country in which 18 local governments in the Northeast were under the control of Boko Haram; decayed infrastructure in which our rail lines and roads had severely deteriorated; a rent seeking economy that depended largely on oil revenues and imports; and significant unpaid pensions, subsidy debts, legacy contractor debts. I can go on and on.
“In our first term, we laid the foundation to rebuild our country. We recaptured those 18 local governments previously held by Boko Haram, whose activities are now limited to sporadic attacks against soft targets.
“Our investments in road and rail infrastructure are without precedent, and many of you can attest to this. We also focused on diversifying the economy from oil towards agriculture and industrialization. Despite reduced revenues from oil and gas compared to past governments, we have broadly addressed many of the legacy debts they left behind.”
He said while the government has obvious successes to celebrate, the challenges ahead as observed within the two days of the exercise were significant.
But he said, “Nevertheless, from the quality of the deliberations, it is clear that solutions to our problems are well researched and have been well articulated.
“We have discussed solutions relating to addressing Insecurity; Macroeconomic Stability; Agriculture and Food Security; Energy Security for Petroleum products and Electricity; Transportation and Critical Infrastructure; Industrialization and SME Development; Human Capital Development; Social Inclusion; Anti-Corruption; Housing Financing and Consumer Credit.”
Buhari commended the Office of the SGF for coordinating the successful Presidential Retreat, adding, “I would also like to thank the National Assembly leadership, the Party Chairman, Chairman of the Governors Forum, and resource firms, for the active engagements and contributions.
“Once again, the challenges that lie ahead of us as a country are significant. But I have no doubt in your individual capacities and our collective patriotic commitment to deliver a better Nigeria for us, our children and a brighter future for all.”
Presenting what he described as the summary of the retreat and key next steps, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said the incoming cabinet members had spent the past two days agreeing to and prioritizing the key strategic initiatives required to drive accelerated economic growth in the country as well as the critical enablers required for seamless execution.
He also said that it was also agreed on the appropriate Key Performance Indicators, KPls and measures of success for each initiative.
He said, “Some of the agreements from our deliberations include: Consolidate and accelerate on the agricultural agenda to achieve full food sufficiency Increase revenue, implement measures to reduce leakages and drive cost optimisation. Ensure effective coordination between monetary and fiscal policy.
“Invest in human capital development with strong focus on early education and health insurance; facilitate investment in oil and gas sector by ensuring speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and Deep Offshore Oil and Exploration and Production Bill; and resolve the liquidity challenge in power sector and facilitate private sector investment.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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