Wike to step on toes as Keyamo, Umahi, others unveil vision for ministries
• Says PDP govs begged Tinubu to appoint allies
• Promises to tackle insecurity in FCT, implement master plan
• My watchword is transparency, says Keyamo
• Journalists shut out as interior minister meets staff
• I’m not Minister of Ebonyi, S’East, Umahi affirms
With speculations and intense lobbying over, screening by the National Assembly sealed, and swearing in concluded, newly appointed federal ministers took their exalted seats, yesterday, voicing what Nigerians should expect in coming days.
While some, like former Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, seemingly began rocking the boat, even before it set sail, others, like Festus Keyamo, were more contemplative.
Wike, who resumed as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), vowed he wouldn’t give a hoot whose ox is gored as he sets out a re-impose order.
“I don’t care how you feel and where you come from. My task is to ensure that Abuja comes to where it should be. I am here to turn Abuja around. That is the work I have been sent here to do and I am going to do just that,” he affirmed.
The new minister rolled out a 10-point agenda, focusing on: security; sanitation; preservation of the Abuja master plan; infrastructure development; restoration of green areas; removal of shanties etc.
He declared he would step on toes to weed out insecurity and pull down buildings located in green areas.
He dismissed rumour he is on a vendetta mission against perceived political foes, even as he maintained he could not be sanctioned by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for taking the appointment.
Addressing a press conference, alongside Minister of State, Maria Mahmoud, Wike said he would not be biased in handing out punishment to anybody, group or organisation that had breached the FCT master plan.
Wike, who is still a card-carrying member of PDP, said he would not allow partisan politics to disturb his operations, describing as immaterial, a question of which party’s flag would be hoisted in his office.
It is “very ridiculous that people believe I will go after the buildings of my enemies. We have passed that stage. I am not here for political vendetta. Some are saying I will go and demolish PDP buildings, if they don’t have Certificates of Occupancy. If they don’t have it, they don’t have it. They said PDP will sanction me for taking appointments, did PDP governors not write to beg Mr. President for appointment for some people?” he asked.
According to Wike, all governors, including 10 from PDP, recommended persons to President Bola Tinubu for appointment as ministers.
“I will fly the flags of all parties, if that is the problem. But I have been appointed to fix problems in the FCT, not to fly flags of political parties. Party is a vehicle. When you get there; look for people who can do the job. That is why I am here to help Mr. President. He didn’t tell me which flag to fly,” he said.
Still on his resolve to tidy up the nation’s capital, Wike said: “We will bring FCT back to where it ought to be. So many people have complained that this is not the FCT of the founding fathers. We must tackle the issue of security.
“Abuja has turned into a slum city. Sanitation is bad, with refuse everywhere. We cannot allow that. We will look at issues of waste disposal. If you know you built where you are not supposed to, it (building) will go down. The days of land racketeering are over. Those who refuse to develop…turning to land speculators, will lose their lands.”
Reacting to Wike’s appointment as minister, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Tony Okocha, said: “Wike has capacity to transform things in Abuja. A lot of us are regular visitors to Abuja and we are aware that Abuja is a slum-like scenario, where residents have become victims of erosion because there’s no control in structures. Abuja needs someone who has courage, who can exude confidence to do the right things, so that structures causing pains to other Nigerians can be removed. President Tinubu made the right choice in Wike as FCT minister.”
Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, said he would build on the aviation roadmap developed by the immediate past administration.
Keyamo said he had read the roadmap developed in 2016, and his “intention is not to disrupt things that have been done so well.” The minister, however, added: “If there are things that have not been done so well, we will look at them thoroughly.”
He expressed intent to get briefings in the next few days and come up with proposals to develop the aviation sector.
According to him, his administration may have to add to the roadmap, but to pull it down totally…“because I know it was a product of a roundtable, held in 2016. So, if it was well thought out.”
The minister, who promised his “watchword is transparency”, said: “At every point, the Nigerian people must understand what we are doing as we carry everyone along, so that we don’t have some of the complaints we had in the past. We are serving the people. Everything I do has always been to satisfy Nigerians.”
Keyamo said his administration would “move from very complex issues to simple issues that every Nigerian faces.” According to him, while citizens may not know the work “we are doing behind, in terms of safety”, people appreciate what they see everyday “like cleanliness of the environment and how early they get their flights.”
AT the Ministry of Interior, journalists who had waited hours for the new helmsman, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, to assume office, were shut out.
Tunji-Ojo was ushered into his office by acting Comptroller General of Immigration, Carol Adepoju Wura-Ola and Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abubakar Audi, alongside other officials of the ministry.
But no sooner had the minister stepped in than Permanent Secretary, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade, asked the journalists to leave the venue.
The reporters were told the conference room was too small to accommodate them; hence, only family, friends and senior staff of the ministry could access the facility.
Tunji-Ojo arrived at about 2:20 p.m., accompanied by a crowd of supporters chanting solidarity songs, following his swearing in at the Presidential Villa.
Minister of Works, David Umahi, stressed he was neither Minister of Ebonyi nor of the South East but of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, urging staff of the ministry to brace up to achieve goals of the Tinubu administration.
“We will not allow files to stay more than two hours on our table because we are field workers,” Umahi promised, even as he outlined a programme of activities that would have him inspect the Abuja-Lokoja road and meet contractors soon.
Umahi, during a brief reception at the ministry, added he would be touring road projects in the six geopolitical zones to get firsthand information.
Earlier, Mahmuda Mamman, who spoke on behalf of the permanent secretary, welcomed Umahi, assuring that staff would work as a team to actualise initiatives.
Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, pledged policies that would transform the industry.
Speaking at a brief ceremony, he urged heads of agencies under the ministry to hit the ground running, saying Nigeria has a great opportunity to compete effectively with nations of the world in the digital economy.
He said: “We are in a better position to connect our people to technologies that will help them access government services in a dignified manner. No sector can be efficient without technical advancement. We are in a strong position to show the rest of the government what productivity can be. We need to connect our people to boundless opportunities that exist globally because borders are melting.”
He added: “Our goal is not to come up with policies that will put people in pain before they can access government services. If we do not collaborate with countries all over the world, we are going to be limited by what is available at the minute in terms of knowledge.”
Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, expressed his determination to boost the economy through initiatives.
The former Osun State governor emphasised the role water resources play in the country and acknowledged their potential for economic growth.
He also stressed the importance of collaboration, teamwork, and dedication to service, even as he called for unified effort in propelling growth of the sector.
He said: “We must come up with practicable ways of ensuring our inland rivers, lakes, and waterways are well utilised, both in terms of cargo shipment and passenger
transportation. And this can be done by embarking on a holistic dredging campaign for most of our strategically important inland waterways, to make them navigable for the passage of goods and people.
“We equally have a duty to promote better inter-agency cooperation and coordination between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the Nigerian Ports Authority, and the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority.”
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