It is with great pleasure that I address you today, my Ministers-designate, at this Retreat in preparation for your swearing–in as the Cabinet that will run this Administration. We must count ourselves privileged to have been chosen among millions of our compatriots at this historic time to be the instruments that will deliver the change we have promised.
2. Let me congratulate you for your success at the various levels of screening that culminated in your confirmation by the Senate.
I would like to reiterate the point I made at my inauguration about the uniqueness of this moment for our country and for us. Shakespeare’s words ring true for us as they did when he first wrote them centuries ago.
‘There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.’
3. The work of restoration and renewal is urgent and immense. The expectations of Nigerians are high. Our determination to succeed and change the fortunes of our country must be equal to the challenge.
4. I have invited you to join me in this urgent mission for our country. I am convinced that in accepting this invitation you are also equally determined to take part in this patriotic undertaking.
5. This Retreat, therefore, marks your first official contact with the machinery of Government, of which you will soon be an integral part. It is important that you are fully acquainted with the direction and priorities of this Government so that we can all move together as a team.
6. My election as President of this country was hinged on my promise to tackle corruption, insecurity and revive the economy.
7. We have already taken deliberate measures to plug leakages of government revenue and resources. You all know the steps we have taken to tackle Boko Haram. We have degraded them and in desperation, they are resorting to attacks on soft targets, killing innocent people. Diversification of the economy away from oil will be a major focus of this government. We will intervene in mining and agriculture and upgrade the country’s physical and social infrastructure, which will broaden our revenue base and significantly improve the level of employment, especially among the youth. Our economic focus will be policies that will ensure inclusive growth and we will count our achievements based on the number of Nigerians we move out of poverty.
8. The objective of this retreat is clearly reflected in the choice of topics which you will be dealing with during the sessions. The need for observing the rule of law is being emphasized to ensure that impunity is removed from government conduct.
9. You are coming on board the ship of governance at an interesting time. So much has been said about the state of our economy. It is expected that we make the running of Government at all levels as lean as possible, avoid waste and conserve resources. As Ministers, you must be the vehicle that will administer the change.
10. Our main task is to turn our manifesto promises to practice and results. Over the next two days I expect you to have a better understanding of the context in which we have taken the challenge of serving our country, as well as the strategies we have adopted to tackle them. I would also expect you to be even more determined to work as a team, and to live up to the high standards of probity and integrity which Nigerians expect of us.
11. Before I close, let me remind you that clear and effective communication at all levels is vital in modern management. You must keep in touch with your fellow ministers and share information, so that the conduct of government will be more efficient. In addition, all communication and appointments from you to the Presidency should be routed through the Office of the Chief of Staff as is normal in this Presidential System.
I wish you useful deliberations.
President Muhammadu Buhari