In a bid to revive the struggling economy of the country, President Bola Tinubu yesterday, called on the 45 Ministers who make up the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to work hard and deliver results that would improve the living standards of Nigerians.
He also ordered the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to halt the issuance of visas to any government official who intends to travel to New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) without showing evidence of direct involvement in the official agenda of the global meeting.
The president made these remarks at the inaugural FEC meeting held in Abuja, which was also attended by Vice President Kashim Shettima and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume. He urged the Ministers to go beyond their titles and offices and focus on their daily responsibilities and collective efforts to transform the economy for the benefit of Nigerian households.
According to him: “You and I know that expectations are high, and these are tough times. We must work hard and move ourselves to create a buoyant economy that will serve Nigeria.
“We have an employment rate that is unacceptable, and we are facing threats from climate change. In order to turn things around, you have been selected to perform your utmost best. Our policy implementation will reform the economy, ensure inclusive growth, and strengthen security for peace and prosperity. Without security, there can be no investment.
“We shall evolve a homegrown re-engineering of our finances, a reimagined stewardship of our resources, and we will let the economy work for the people of this country. There are so many things we can and will do. Yes, some cynics will say it is impossible. But in your own dictionary of service, everything is possible, and it must be possible.”
Tinubu urged the new Ministers to be mindful of the expectations and aspirations of 200 million fellow Nigerians in their daily work and assured them that he would provide the necessary leadership to prevent failure and ensure sustainable progress.
“We have the talent. We have the level of intellectual capacity required to turn this country around. We will make sure that the country is on the right path to succeed on behalf of more than 200 million Nigerians who rely on us,” the president affirmed.
The president made it clear that no one should assume that they had a fixed term appointment and expressed his trust that the cabinet members he had chosen were aware that his government was a new one with a new vision and a new mandate to deliver for Nigeria without any complaints or excuses.
He said that the country would depend on the expertise, skill, intellect, and networking of those who had been appointed to make progress in the difficult times, and failure would not be tolerated under his watch.
Tinubu told his cabinet that he was only one man and that their creative thinking to solve problems would shape his leadership as a president who listens.
“It is in your hands now. I am ready to listen and to cooperate. I am ready even to be corrected. Only God is perfect. You have been asked to fetch water from a dry well. The challenges are great, but we will deliver for Nigerians. I am happy to be the captain of this vehicle.
“It is a great commitment that you have made to the country. Since your inauguration as a Minister, you have become a servant for the people, serving all of the people, all of the time,” Tinubu further said.
Some Ministers briefed the media on the administration’s plans to revive the economy after the FEC meeting. The meeting focused on the economic recovery agenda. The Ministers who spoke to the press were Mohammed Idris of Information and National Orientation; Wale Edun of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy; Ali Pate of Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare; Abubakar Kyari of Agriculture and Food Security; and Doris Anite of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun said he presented, “Roadmap for the Economy” during the meeting noting that the Council agreed that the economy was not where it ought to be.
According to him, FEC examined eight priority areas and identified targets to deliver in the next three years or thereabout, adding that the president has directed the Ministers to roll out policy and programme to turn the economy around.
He said: “First the President congratulated everybody and emphasised the high expectations of Nigerians and he encouraged us to be bold and courageous and innovative and to act with urgency in delivering a better life to all Nigerians.
“Essentially we went through an exercise of looking at where things stood, regarding the economy, the growth rate, the exchange rate, inflation, unemployment and so on.
“The overriding conclusion is that we’re not where we should be and we also examined the President’s eight-point agenda, that is the eight priority areas for moving the Nigerian economy forward and for delivering to Nigerians and those are basically food security; ending poverty, economic growth and job creation, access to capital, particularly consumer credit, inclusivity in all its dimensions, particularly as regards youths and women, improving security, improving the playing field on which people and particularly companies operate, rule of law, and of course, fighting corruption.
“It is around the matrix that the plans and the targets of what will be delivered in the next three years or so were identified, discussed and imputes were given by various ministers and we’ll now go away with the marching order to refine further the targets in particular and within weeks to start rolling out policies and programmes to turn around the economy and make things better for all Nigerians. That really is the substance of what the discussion was all about”.
Also speaking, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Anite, said the president plans to create 50 million jobs.
According to her: “In Mr. President’s manifesto during his campaigns, he promised 50 million jobs and that’s our target. We will take it in phases; we are looking at different sectors of the economy that will contribute to this job creation chief among them is the creative industry and the digital economy, and then the agric sector, agro-processing zones, and mining, oil and gas. So we’re very confident that we will achieve this.”
Meanwhile, as part of a wider effort to cut down on government spending in Nigeria, Tinubu has ordered the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to halt the visa processing for any government official who wants to attend the UNGA in New York without proof of direct involvement in the official agenda of the global event.
Presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, said in a statement yesterday that the United States Mission in Nigeria had been instructed on official visa procedures and that Nigeria’s Permanent Mission in New York had been tasked with preventing and stopping the accreditation of any government official who was not on the protocol lists approved by the authority.
The statement also said that Tinubu had directed all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure that only officials who were approved for the UNGA delegation would attend the event and that they would strictly limit the number of aides and staff accompanying them.