Thursday, 7th December 2023

Serve Nigeria not regions or states, Tinubu charges new ministers

By Terhemba Daka, Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan) and Obinna Nwaoku (Port Harcourt)
22 August 2023   |   3:33 am
In a bid to reboot his three-month long administration, President Bola Tinubu yesterday, charged the 45 newly sworn-in Ministers to prioritise national interests and shun regional or primordial considerations while working towards facilitating the delivery of objectives that underpin the renewed hope agenda of his administration

President Bola Tinubu and new ministers.

In a bid to reboot his three-month long administration, President Bola Tinubu yesterday, charged the 45 newly sworn-in Ministers to prioritise national interests and shun regional or primordial considerations while working towards facilitating the delivery of objectives that underpin the renewed hope agenda of his administration.

Speaking shortly after he inaugurated the new members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, President Tinubu underscoring the responsibility of the Ministers, said: “You are not a minister of a particular state, colony, region, or ethnic nationality; you are a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“All of you who have been sworn in have been called to distinguish yourselves. It is me who knows you. I delegate this authority but the greatest number of Nigerians are highly expecting delivery, accountability and transparency. I expect that you will serve with integrity, dignity and deliver. I will hold you to that standard we all promised Nigerians,” he said, noting that the Ministers were carefully selected by him for their track record of excellence and achievement in the public and private sector.

Acknowledging the challenges currently besetting the nation, the President expressed confidence that his cabinet will work to implement the long overdue reforms that will transform the economy and improve governance.

“Since my inauguration on May 29, I have taken steps to begin implementing the agenda from which I campaigned and for which I received the mandate of the Nigerian people. With the inauguration of ministers today, we are about to accelerate our governing efforts to move forward, highlighting our best aspiration for Nigerians.

“In this new assignment, we are in this boat together, even if it is a vehicle, I am the driver. The entire nation sits watchful, as you and I navigate this vehicle. We must hold each other responsible. We have to do the job to meet the expectations of all Nigerians,” he said.

In attendance during the epoch-making ceremony were the Vice President, Kashim Shettima; Senate President, Godswill Akpabio; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume; and chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Kwara State governor, Abdulaziz Abdulrahman.

The oath of office was administered by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola. After taking the oath of office, the ministers shook hands with President Tinubu. The ministers were sworn in according to their respective states of origin.

Firing the first salvo, President Tinubu directed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, to immediately take over negotiations with Organised Labour in order to arrive at amicable resolutions that will make workers overcome the current pains occasioned by the petrol subsidy removal, especially on resolving modalities for the palliatives, as well as engender a new minimum wage within a short period.

Lalong disclosed this while addressing directors, heads of parastatals and agencies under the ministry and the entire staff immediately he assumed office yesterday. The Minister also said the administration will not spare any effort to protect Nigerian workers and guarantee their dignity at all times.

Lalong, flanked by the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejecha, said under his stewardship, the ministry will fulfill its mandate of ensuring decent work for all Nigerians and making sure that citizens, particularly the youth and women, get opportunity to deploy their energy, creativity, talent and gifts to the development of the nation.

He also assured that the government, through the ministry, will work closely with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates towards ensuring that all pending industrial disputes are settled amicably.

While conveying the goodwill of President Tinubu to the working class, Lalong lauded the patience shown by Organised Labour over the increasing hardships occasioned by recent policies. He pledged to engage all relevant partners and receive briefings towards a robust performance.

Meanwhile, Organised Labour on the platform of National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees, (NUCFRLANMPE), has told the Federal Government to speed up policies that will alleviate the pains of the removal of subsidy on petrol.

Labour said Nigerians, especially workers, were really suffering. Specifically, the union urged the Federal Government to create local policies that would improve the economy and lives of citizens.

President, NUCFRLANMPE, Babatunde Olatunji, spoke in Ekiti State, at the opening ceremony of its 31st annual industrial relations seminar. The theme of the five-day seminar is: ‘Social dialogue as a vehicle for promoting decent work and industrial harmony.’

He said: “We plead with the government to hasten up and come up with policies to lessen the suffering of Nigerians, especially workers. It is time to revive local refineries, build infrastructure such as road networks and electricity supply, as well as develop the iron and steel sector, which is key to economic growth.

“Insecurity should be tackled, multiple taxation, rent and charges should be regulated to allow manufacturing companies survive and promote Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in Nigeria.”

He said the manufacturers found it difficult to operate at optimal capacity due to lack of power supply.

Also, an environmental rights group, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has raised concerns over the creation of a new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy by President Tinubu, saying the development shows disregard for the environment, which according to them, is the foundation of human survival.

The group argued that the announced ministries of Gas Resources and Oil Resources (now domiciled in the Ministry of Petroleum) and Ministry of Marine & Blue Economy, show many signs of special concerns at the time, just as they expressed that the President was yet to appoint a Minister for Environment.

The Executive Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, in a statement, stated that while they have continued to raise concerns about the degraded environment, creating a Ministry of Gas Resources would only give license to the continuous gas emissions, which are a major cause of climate change and attendant problems faced by communities.

Bassey noted that by placing a special focus and promoting the gas industry, the Ministry of Gas will inexorably discourage the development of cleaner and more sustainable energy alternatives, stressing that this will further create a long-term dependency on fossil fuels, at a time when all efforts should be made to “depetrolise” the economy.

“We do not see a bright future for the Nigerian environment, people, and economy with the President as minister of the twin petroleum ministries, and with the creation of a Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. The three ministries will pose unique problems for our aquatic ecosystems and will inevitably worsen the plight of communities whose interests are once more set to be sacrificed,” he said.

The group further expressed fear that by prioritising gas, other renewable energy sources will be neglected.

They argued that the lack of diversification will hinder a country’s ability to adapt to future energy demands, emphasising that it portends continuous disruption of our ecosystems with attendant health and safety risks.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Southwest zone, has expressed keen interest in the policies to be implemented by the ministers of Education, Tahir Mamman; Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani; Innovation, Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji; and Sports Development, John Enoh.

Coordinator, NANS Southwest Zone, John Alao, stated this in a statement issued on Monday while expressing confidence in their abilities to deliver.
Topmost, according to Alao, is education, calling on the education minister to avert arbitrary increases in fees payable by students of tertiary institutions and defer further increases where possible.

He further charged Mamman to develop and implement policies that would lessen the burden on students.

He particularly said NANS yearned for the long-desired changes in the educational sector and the Nigerian economy at large.

The NANS coordinator also said the student body identified how crucial to the economy the policies of the ministries of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Innovation Science and Technology, and Sports Development are.

Describing the activities of the three ministries as intertwined, Alao urged the three ministers in charge to work in sync such that the impacts of their policies are felt by students and Nigerians at large.