President Muhammadu Buhari has outlawed the use of large convoys and retinue of aides by the ministers to be sworn in any moment from now.
Also, on Friday, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar joined the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, for the Jumat prayers.
The directive on the ban of the use of large convoys and retinue of aides by Buhari was made known by a minister-designate, Dr. Chris Ngige, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of a two-day retreat held for the 36 ministers-designate at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
According to him, the President said the order was in line with the nation’s economic reality.
Asked to expatiate on what Buhari told them about the economy, Ngige said:
“Yes, we will be running a lean economy because we are going to block areas of leakages. Retinue of aides, protocol staff and large convoys of cars are things that will not fly in this administration.”
On the ongoing debates about some ministers not having portfolio, he said: “If you have portfolio, if you don’t have portfolio, it is one single Federal Executive Council (FEC). You bring whatever it is on the table. That is not a problem at all. We have a right to discuss things around the ministries because it is one single cabinet.
“The important thing is that we want to move our people from where they are now, they are in abject poverty which concerns about 75 percent of the populace. So, we need to actually restructure the political and social moment of the country and that is what we are going to do. That means poverty will reduce.”
On his part, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Coporation and minister-designate, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu described the two-day retreat as a wonderful session.
He said: “It equips us, gets us ready and charges us to action.”
He added that “change” had come to Nigeria since the election of Buhari.
Another minister-desginate, Ogbonnaya Onu, said the decision of the President to run a lean government was right.
He said: “You can see what has happened to the economy. We have had a drastic drop in the price of crude oil; more than 50 per cent drop over the past one year or around that time. So, revenue coming into the country definitely has reduced considerably. Government must really run in a way that we will be able to lead the aspirations of our people to make sure that Nigerians are happy.”
Another minister-designate, Mr. James Ocholi, SAN said the retreat had prepared them for the task ahead.
Ocholi said: “Some of the things we have learnt here within the last two days, even former governors who have completed eight years never knew them. As governors, they were learning on the job and trying to find ways of sorting out things.
“There is a lot of demand on us as Mr. President told us at the opening session and he is preparing us to meet the challenges that we will face. I think it will be better for us as ministers and the nation that most of us will hit the ground running on day one.
“We are grateful that getting into government at this time; with the change mantra, we will not be taken by surprise. “
Atiku joins Buhari for prayers inside Aso Rock…
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar joined President Buhari for the Jumat prayers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It was the first time the former vice president would be seen publicly inside the Presidential Villa since Buhari took over from Goodluck Jonathan.
Atiku was driven into the forecourt of the villa through the Service Chiefs’ Gate from where he trekked into the mosque located at the back of the President’s office for the service.
Although he met with Buhari during the prayers, there was no formal meeting between the two leaders before or after the service.
He did not speak with journalists at the end of the service.