The Federal Executive Council on Monday unfolded a three-year economic revival plan to address the social and economic challenges affecting the country.
The inaugural cabinet meeting, which was held at the council chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, was presided over by President Bola Tinubu, who unveiled his vision for “economic growth, prosperity for all and ending poverty.”
Addressing the ministers, the President admonished them to achieve the first phase of his administration’s eight-point agenda within three years.
He asked the members of his cabinet to work hard to revive the country’s economy because Nigeria is in a difficult time.
The President said the ministers have the capacity to make a difference in the ministries they have been assigned to oversee.
“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,’’ he told the ministers and other cabinet members.
Emphasising that anyone thinking that appointments are fixed-term appointments was mistaken, the President expressed confidence that the carefully selected cabinet members knew that his government is a new one with a new approach and mandate to deliver for Nigeria without any lamentation or excuses.
He noted, “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.”
Tinubu noted that the country would rely on the experience, skills, intellect and networking of those who had been appointed to make headway in the challenging times.
He cautioned that the cabinet members were appointed to make headway in the challenging times, and failure would not be explained away under his watch.
“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,’’ he pointed out.
Tinubu reminded his cabinet that he is only one man and that their innovative 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,” he said.
“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 concluded.
Meanwhile, the President has promised to create about 50 million jobs through the Ministry of Trade and Investment.
Briefing journalists at the end of the FEC meeting, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, explained that the Tinubu administration met a very bad economy with inflation at 24 per cent.
“Per capita has fallen steadily, inflation is at 24 per cent, unemployment is high; you know they are rebasing the way in which it’s calculated. Either way, it is high and youth unemployment is even unacceptably high. These are the key metrics that we have met. We met a bad economy and the promise of Mr President is to make it better,’’ he stated.
The minister also said that the Federal Government was not in a position to borrow money at this time, adding the emphasis is on how to create a macro-economic environment where both local and foreign investors will invest and increase production.
The government also assured Nigerians that the Tinubu administration will not rely on borrowing and that he had pledged to be transparent, honest and accountable to the people.
Providing the highlights of the council meeting, Edun noted, ‘’First he (Tinubu) 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.’’
Speaking further, he said, ‘’It is around those matrices that the plans and the targets of what will be delivered in the next three years or so were identified, discussed and inputs were given by various ministers.
“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 discussions was all about.’’
On her part, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Anite, said that the President has to create 50mn jobs.
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Ali Pate, stressed the President’s vision and priorities were economic growth, prosperity for all and ending poverty as discussed at the FEC meeting and mentioned by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy.
He underscored the significance of the country’s asset which he said was the human capital nay the youthful population.
“One element that is key and underlying all of those efforts is the people. Nigeria’s most important asset is its people, its youthful population and the human capital that is bestowed in that youthful population. So, Mr President’s vision includes the idea of harnessing the human capital of our youthful population to achieve prosperity for everyone,’’ the minister stated.
According to him, the direction of the government is to mobilise the social capital in the country, unite the people and drive transformation.
This, he added, included dealing with nutrition, food security, preventive diseases, but also to support people to live healthier lives, which in turn would produce healthier people who can drive economic growth.
In the education sector, Pate disclosed that the government would ensure that people were not left behind, ‘’so that the child of anyone can aspire to the highest levels, so that we’ll have an inclusive economy as the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister indicated.’’
He noted, ‘’The poorest and the most vulnerable populations; girls, women, children, disabled are an important element in the human capital agenda of this administration.
“The bias is towards action so that we’ll get things done and he’s very clear that the President wants us to domesticate our efforts within our own national context, but also to be very practical in the interventions that we’ll make.
“With those marching orders, we now have our jobs cut out for us and we’ll continue to refine, as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, indicated. The President has high expectations and he urges us to ensure the high expectations of Nigerians are met and I believe that the entire cabinet is enthused to follow the President’s directions and to start to deliver for Nigerians.’’
Presidency advises ministers
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, has said that President Tinubu has benchmarks for performances, would not permit failure, and will sack any ineffective minister.
Ngelale said this on Monday, while speaking on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily programme.
He added that between his emergence as President-elect and inauguration on May 29, Tinubu had established a series of reform committees for every sector.
He said, “basically looked at exactly what President Muhammadu Buhari had achieved and said, ‘This is what we want to do to build on all these achievements.’’
The Presidential aide added, “We are going to effectively implement a plan within a certain amount of time based on time-based benchmarks that when a minister has come in, we will be able to measure their performance against.
“Every minister coming in absolutely knows what they have to achieve within the time frame that has been given to them by the President. And that’s something in the history of Nigerian governance we’ve never seen before. The President has set the benchmarks.
“The question now is about enforcement and the President has shown, as he did during his time in Lagos State as governor, that he is not someone that is afraid to fire anybody.
“Tinubu is not somebody who is afraid to level quick sanctions to ensure that they get the results that he wants because, ultimately, if this administration fails, they will not say a minister failed or a set of ministers failed. They will say President Bola Tinubu failed, and he will not accept failure.”
Tinubu limits delegation
President Bola Tinubu has directed the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to freeze the processing of visas for all government officials seeking to travel to New York for the UNGA without proof of direct participation in the official schedule of activities.
The PUNCH learnt that the number of Nigerian delegates to the global event would be restricted as part of plans to cut the cost of governance as directed by the President.
This was contained in a statement on Monday by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Ngelale.
It read, “To prevent any sharp practice in this regard, the US Mission in Nigeria is accordingly guided on official visa processing while Nigeria’s Permanent Mission in New York is further directed to prevent and stop the accreditation of any government official who is not placed on the protocol lists forwarded by the approving authority.
“By this directive of the President, all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies are mandated to ensure that all officials, who are approved for inclusion in the UNGA delegation, strictly limit the number of aides and associated staff partaking in the event. Where excesses or anomalies in this regard are identified, they will be removed during the final verification process.
“The President wishes to affirm that, henceforth, government officials and government expenditure must reflect the prudence and sacrifice being made by well-meaning Nigerians across the nation.”