Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered Ministers, Departments and Agencies, to go on the offensive and defend the achievements of his administration, and not allow political opponents to spread falsehood.
The President was speaking at the closing of the first-year ministerial performance review retreat held in Abuja.
This is even as he has ordered the speedy release of N2.3 trillion stimulus funds by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National planning to MDAs and for capital projects.
President Buhari said: “I have charged all of you to defend the government vigorously and not allow any irresponsible and politically motivated statements to keep spreading falsehoods about this government. Information to the public should be better packaged, go on the offensive, we are proud of our achievements and we should blow our own trumpets.”
The President reiterated that meeting requests should be made through the Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, while all cabinet matters should be channeled through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
He said: “Let me also reiterate that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests should be channeled through the chief of staff, while all federal
Executive council matters should be coordinated through the secretary to the government of the federation.”
On speedy release of funds for capital projects, the President said: “I have directed the minister of finance, budget and national planning, the governor of the central bank of Nigeria and all other responsible agencies to ensure speedy and timely release of funds to MDAs for implementation of the N2.3 trillion economic sustainability plan and the capital projects in the 2020 budget.
“I also enjoined ministers to ensure that funds released are utilized efficiently and transparently in implementing the programmes and projects under the line priorities areas of government.
“I hereby charged the ministers, permanent secretaries and all heads of parastatals to be continuously conscious of their commitment and responsibilities.
“On behalf of the people of Nigeria, I demand uttermost levels of performance, deliverables and results. I look forward to a result orientated year with tremendous benefits that will continue to change lives of our people positively.”””
The President also warned that the days of insufficient collaboration, coordination and synergy among implementing ministries, departments and agencies are over. In this regard, he said: “I have directed that essential coordination delivery unit in the office of the secretary of the government of the federation should be revived to ensure we focus on results. The SGF is to ensure regular reports on progress submitted.”
President Buhari also called on Nigerian elites to judge his administration with fairness.
He said: “I want the Nigerian elites, please encourage them, to judge us fairly,” arguing that his administration has done more for the country with less resources.
He said the average production of oil in the country, from 1999 to 2014, was 2.1 million barrels per day sold at an average price of $100.
“When we came, it collapsed to $37, $38 per barrel, you know it. And the militants were unleashed on the administration, and the production went down to half a million barrels per day.
“I want you to please reflect, what was the condition of the infrastructure then, in spite of those earnings. The roads, the rail is dead and there was no power, up till now no power; where does the money go?”
The President said he was “doing my best” to fight corruption by “trying to follow the system” in contrast to his brief military regime in 1984 when he arbitrarily rounded up politicians, threw them in jail, and required them to prove their innocence.
Now “I’m being called ‘baba go slow’,” he said.
Meanwhile,Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the poverty situation in the country as well the economic distortions and hardship daily.
He has therefore said it is important for relevant ministers and other key actors to expedite action on the N2.3 trillion stimulus package designed by the government to mitigate the effect of the crisis on the economy.
The Vice-President said this in his presentation on the Economic Sustainability Plan at the just concluded First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Laolu Akande titled, “VP to ministers at retreat: The N2.3trn stimulus package must be implemented quickly,” Osinbajo said that, “We are already in Day 67 since the plan. Nothing is going to happen by magic, we have to simply do this stuff.
“We have to ensure that we have the money and ensure that day by day, we are measuring our achievements and trying to ensure that we do the things that we need to do. And we simply are not favoured by time, every single day the poverty situation and the economic distortions deepen.”
Osinbajo was further quoted as saying that the only way out of the current problem is to fund production, enable consumer spending so that people can go and buy things, and we to put money in people’s hands.
He said under the mass agriculture programme, the government has enumerated four million farmers.
Under the mass housing programme, he explained that the government will build 300,000 homes across the country and will ensure that their prices do not exceed N2m.
Osinbajo said all the components of the plan were designed to create jobs.
“Agriculture requiring N637.2bn funding will provide 5,000,000 jobs; the solar power project funding requirement is N152.4bn is expected to provide 250,000 jobs; the mass housing programme with a funding requirement of N217.3bn is expected to create 1,500,000 jobs; while public works funding is N52bn to provide 774,000 jobs: and N100bn is required to provide 500, 000 jobs in the SMEs,” he said.
He said if implemented properly, the plan was capable of turning the nation’s economic fortunes around.