By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah and Sunday Isuwa Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has told his cabinet members to brace up for tough times ahead in his administration’s quest to deliver on its campaign promises during its fresh four-year mandate. The president stated this yesterday while receiving members of the Federal Executive Council who came to pay him a congratulatory visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He also disclosed that he campaigned across the 36 states and Abuja to prove to the opposition that he was fit and healthy for the task at hand. “First, I am pleased that members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) are collectively meeting here today where we play our weekly role to congratulate me. I think if I had lost the election, I don’t know how many of them will be here. “Secondly, during the campaigns, I tried to visit the 36 states and Abuja, firstly, to prove to the other side that I’m fit. I tried to cover two states per day and, secondly, not to make anybody feel that any state had been left out.
“So, I thank God that He gave me the strength and health to see through my plan and I think it is appreciated. “My last lap of four years, I think, is going to be tough because people are being forgetful. That was why wherever I went, I reminded them of the campaign promise of our party, particularly security, as I kept on saying that you have to secure the country well and build the institutions. If you don’t secure the country, you can’t achieve anything no matter how many programmes you put in place,” he said. President Buhari lamented the unemployment rate in the country, noting that more than 60 per cent of the youths needs to be kept busy. He, however, expressed optimism that the agriculture sector would help to ameliorate the problem.
“I realised that God heard our prayers. It had been two good rainy seasons and we had the foresight to get the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Central Bank to try and give soft loans to farmers so that everybody that is educated and looking for white-collar jobs – and cannot get it – can go back to the land. We are lucky the rainy season had been good. “I think we are also lucky that through the governors in some states like Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, in particular, we don’t import rice but we have savings from rice in terms of foreign exchange which we put in the budget and use for infrastructure. “That is a very good thing because the oil sector is becoming very difficult to predict. It is becoming unpredictable and depending on it makes us materially insecure, but thank goodness, agriculture has come to save it and people are appreciating it,” Buhari said. On his part, the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who spoke on behalf of FEC members and the leadership of the public service, described the president’s victory as well deserved. He said, “Your victory with a huge majority of votes cast is indeed a well-deserved success because it was a referendum on honesty, integrity, uprightness and sincerity.
“The change you promised four years ago to put the Nigerian economy on a sustainable development path, restore security of life and property and fight corruption has laid the firm foundation for growth. Your commitment, dedication and purposeful leadership has indeed become the springboard that has taken us to the next level. “Members of the Federal Executive Council are particularly delighted because Nigerians have validated and rewarded the long rigorous hours we spent in this Council Chamber to deliberate on matters of national importance. You led us with assured calmness, understanding and ensured that we gave account of our stewardship openly.” Mustapha further noted that the leadership of the public service was happy because this re-election would deepen the ongoing reforms aimed at strengthening its capacity for the delivery of good governance.
The SGF recalled the president’s achievements to include: the introduction of the Treasury Single Account [TSA], Bank Verification Number (BVN), Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), the Open Government Partnership [OGP], the whistle blower policy, the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan [FCSSIP] 2017-2020, and commitment to the implementation of the new minimum wage in order to improve the welfare of the Nigerian workers. According to him, all of these have combined to transform the public service into an effective and productive organisation. The public service totally aligns itself with millions of Nigerians that have re-elected the president and its members have rededicated themselves to the delivery of quality service for the benefit of Nigerians, Mustapha said. “We pledge our loyalty and support to government and assure you that we shall facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for sustainable development of our nation.
“It is the prayer of all of us that in this second term, God will increase your wisdom and endow you with good health to enable you to expand the frontiers of the fulfilment of your promises. Indeed, our best years are still ahead of us as a nation. We salute your courage, firmness and fairness,” he added.