sworn-in ministers, yesterday, on their first day in office, unveiled the measures they would adopt to drive and actualise President Muhammadu Buhari’s change agenda.
Speaking on a day that mixed views trailed the assignment of portfolios to the cabinet members, the ministers promised not to leave any stone unturned in the effort to develop the country.Ministers, who charted the way forward yesterday include, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Senator Chris Ngige, Labour and Employment; Aisha Mohammed, Environment; Rotimi Amaechi, Transport; and Alhaji Mohammed Bello, Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA.
Fashola, who was received with ovation by workers at the Federal Secretariat at 3.15 p.m as he assumed duty after the inauguration of the federal cabinet by President Buhari, assured Nigerians of his preparedness to bring together processes and activities of all the ministries now put under his supervision for effective service delivery.
Fashola was ushered into the office by Mrs Grace Papka, the Director in charge of Human Resources of the ministry and thereafter went into private meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Louis Edozien and directors in the ministry.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Alhaji Mustapha Baba Shehuri, also arrived at the complex where he joined the minister and the directors at the meeting.
Fashola assured the ministry’s leadership of his willingness to learn from them as they are career people who have been on the job for a long time.
He said: “We are here to work with you in solving problems on ground as quickly as possible. We want to know if some of those problems are man-made or systemic. We want information on what has been done, what remains to be done, and what are the future plans. We want to continue from there.”
The Minister said he is also interested in how best to harness the available human resource assets in the ministry and the physical assets, ‘’as all these information will assist us as we hit the ground running. We need to do more so as to regain lost time.”
He told his audience that Nigerians are anxiously waiting for result, which in this case, is improved power supply nation-wide.
Also speaking the Minister of State, Power, Works and Housing, Alhaji Shehuri, said that as a matter of urgency, he wants a detailed ministerial briefing document to serve as a guide as this will ensure proper take off.
The Director, Human Resources, Mrs. Grace Papka, gave copies of the requested documents to the two ministers and a time-table for proposed briefings by Departments and Agencies in the power sector.
On her part, the Minister of Environment, Aisha Mohammed said she is ready to achieve the mandate given to the ministry by President Buhari.
Aisha stated this during her maiden ministerial press briefing, where she said the ministry will ensure that the time frame given to it will be used to make sure that the environment improves.
She said: “As the minister of state has reiterated, there is a time frame and within that time frame we have to deliver the dividends of this administration to our people.”
According to her: “The one commitment that we can make is that as we read through this brief that you’ve got here, it is about us building on the successes that we have in this ministry and ensuring that the teams that we have are working effectively with the skills that will take it to another level.
“It certainly can’t be business as usual because the President has said it and I hope that the Ministry of Environment will give the support to the Minister of State and myself to make real difference and to be a role model for what we mean by that in the country.
“The country has environmental issues everywhere. There is no part of this country that is devoid of the challenges that we have and what we need to do is to find the resources, those that are within the country and the other two tiers of government, the resources that are outside the borders of Nigeria to make sure that we make a considerable impact with what we have.’’
In his remark, the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril, said he and the Minister will work as a team “because only with concerted effort and team work can we move this ministry and the nation forward.”
In this regard he said, “we ask for your cooperation. Remember that political appointees have no patience because time is not on their side.’’
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, assured Nigerians that his ministry will make frantic efforts in creating jobs for the teeming Nigerian youths.
Addressing members of the management and staff of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on his assumption of duty in Abuja, Senator Ngige said that the government would wage war against unemployment in the country.
“We will be at the fore-front of the battle to stop the scourge of unemployment in the country. We must as a people put on our thinking caps so that we can chart the way forward for employment generation,” he said.
He emphasized that government alone cannot provide everybody with employment as it can only create enabling environment for all other sectors to thrive, adding that the Ministry of Labour and Employment is part of the engineering that will pave the way for the private sector to generate jobs through development focused labour laws.
Senator Ngige affirmed zero tolerance for leakages and corrupt practices in the country, saying: “We are the catalysts, the change agents of the change era. If we block leakages in our systems the country will be better for it, as resources will be made available for the economic growth of the nation.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State, James Ocholi, SAN, expressed confidence in the expertise of the management and staff of the ministry, which he believes, is in line with the change mantra of the present administration
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Clement Illoh, assured the ministers of the full cooperation of the management and staff of the ministry including its agencies, to actualise their mandates.
Minister of Transport and Aviation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday read the riot act to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and directors of the merged ministries, that he would not entertain any form of sycophancy from them.
The minister, who was accompanied by Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and the new Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, told the agencies under the merged ministries that he would not tolerate unnecessary protocol, praise-singing and gossips.
Amaechi, whose receptive ambience relaxed the tension that came with his presence at the Ministry of Transport, said he would have no problem with any agency or staff for as long as they go about their work diligently.
He said he had come to the Transport and Aviation Ministry to work in line with the change mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The Minister promised to complete all abandoned rail projects in the country, saying that a fully functional rail system will ameliorate transportation difficulties in addition to creating employment.
He said: “Rail transport is the easiest thing to achieve if you get capable hands. We are going to work towards completing abandoned rail projects. They will help create employment and ease mass transportation of people. Our mandate is to deliver quality service to the people in accordance with the change agenda,” he said.
Speaking on his personal principles, the Minister said: “If you come to me to gossip about anyone, be rest assured that l will tell the person concerned that this is what you said and you will be there to defend yourself, wrong or right.
“I am not as bad as they say. A lot of names have been given to me but I believe in principles. I don’t like protocols. When I say I hate corruption, I mean it. I don’t give bribe and I don’t take either. If you want to relate with me don’t give me money and don’t ask me for money.
“Just do your job creditably. Don’t see me on the road and run away. I am not as bad as they paint me. I don’t steal and l don’t befriend thieves and don’t put me in a position that l will not be able to call a thief, thief. Let us be friends because l am here to learn.”
Meanwhile, Amaechi said he would resume fully next week Tuesday, stating that by then he would have been fully abreast with the two ministries from briefs between yesterday and November 17, 2015 when he would meet with all the member of staff of the two ministries.
He, therefore, advised the staff of the ministry to brace up for quality service, bearing in mind that they had a mandate to achieve.
He said: “It is important that we realise we have a mandate and to also have it at the back of our minds that there is huge competition among the MDAs on which will deliver first.”
Speaking earlier, the new Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, promised the minister his full cooperation, support and readiness of staff to work in line with the change mandate to deliver efficient rail, ports and general transportation system.