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Dear President Buhari and his new ministers

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Jide Ojo

Honourable Ministers-Designate, you will be responsible for the development and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in your various Ministries, Departments and Agencies in line with Government priorities. You must also ensure that Agencies under your Ministries are effective, efficient and accountable in the discharge of their responsibilities.”

— President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, August 19, 2019 at the retreat for the ministers-designate

Dear Mr President,

I wish to congratulate your new ministers as they take their oath of office today. Remarkably, they are coming into office about six months after the February 23, 2019 presidential election and 84 days after your inauguration on May 29 and about a month after their names were sent to the Senate for screening and confirmation. No doubt, the competition for these exalted posts was very stiff. The new ministers are indeed lucky to have made the 43-man list out of millions of members of the All Progressives Congress.

Before addressing you, Sir, let me first counsel the new cabinet. The new ministers have undergone two days’ presidential retreat with Permanent Secretaries and other key government officials in the last 48 hours. I do hope they paid attention to what they were taught during the retreat. It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. I, therefore, enjoin the new ministers to see their appointment as a call to service and not an avenue for personal aggrandisement.

I do not envy the ministers on their appointment because unease lies the head that wears the crown. They are like the chiefs in the palace of the king of Nigeria. Though we are not running a parliamentary system of government, there is a principle of collective responsibility in governance. If the President succeeds in bettering the lives of Nigerians in this second and final term, they all will share in the glory. If otherwise, they will collectively share in the blame and abuse.

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The country is on tenterhooks and many Nigerians are unhappy, disillusioned and agitated about the state of the nation. The ministers are all living witnesses to the call for a revolution and have heard about the humiliating treatment meted out to former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in Nuremberg, Germany, last weekend.

I appeal to the ministers not to live ostentatious and luxurious lifestyles in office. Recall power is transient and they’re just merely presidential aides in the real sense of the word who can be removed at will. There is a need for them to lead an austere life and not be intoxicated with power. Those privileged to be named as substantive ministers should not see their Ministers of State as subordinates. The need to work harmoniously for the betterment of the country cannot be over-emphasised.

Besides, I appeal to the minister not to engage in corrupt practices. Unlike in the past when people stole and looted with impunity, these days, there are whistle-blowers everywhere who can blow the lids and open cans of worms. The civil society and the media are already poised to hold them to account and as such, like Julius Caesar’s wife, be above board in all that they’ll do. They should run open-door policy, work harmoniously with the respective Permanent Secretaries as well as heads of agencies and department under their ministries. Our elders say a new broom sweeps clean but an old broom knows where the cobwebs and dirt are. Thus, there is a need to carry everybody along.

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To achieve results, the ministers should work as a team. This has been stressed in your address on Monday. That thought was also echoed by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, during his remark at the retreat as well. The full meaning of TEAM is Together Everyone Achieves More. There is strength in unity of purpose. Each of the ministers is like a sub-sect of a whole. The indolence or non-performance of one affects the overall goals of the government.

Nigeria is in a state of emergency and times like this call for patriotic, conscientious and selfless individuals. Please work to make your impact positively felt. Do your work well. I charge you with the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jnr that: “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better. If it falls on your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep street like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well’”

I say let the governance begin in earnest. Enough time has been wasted on planning and constituting the cabinet. I beg of you, Sir, do not hold on as Minister of Petroleum Resources. Relinquish that to enable you to superintend over your 43 member-cabinet. Also, demerge the merged Ministry of Works, Power and Housing; Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Transportation and Aviation and Ministry of Youths and Sports among others. Let these ministries stand alone. The fewer Ministers of State we have, the better.

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Also, I appeal to you to kindly put square pegs in square holes. Among the 43 ladies and gentlemen you have assembled are professionals from all walks of life. Put each person where they’re best suited. We need a renowned academic in charge of our education ministry; a world-class physician in charge of Health; an Information and Communication Technology expert in charge of our communications ministry; a legal luminary in charge of Ministry of Justice and a security expert in charge of defence. I do not subscribe to the school of thought that anybody can serve anywhere.

Another appeal to you, Dear Mr President, is to allow your ministers unfettered access to you. The allegation made some time ago by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu that he could not meet with you even as your Minister of State for Petroleum Resources in six months is shocking. Please, meet periodically with them one-on-one and not only during the Federal Executive Council meeting. A frequent meeting will enable them to share with you their progress report and challenges. Finally, take time off to also visit your ministers in their offices and hear directly from their staff about their performance. Any minister who turns themselves into a liability should be relieved of their portfolios. The idea of not reshuffling cabinet or sacking non-performing ministers as witnessed during your first term is neither ideal nor noble. Kindly adopt the carrot and stick approach to governance.

Follow me on Twitter @jideojong

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Akande emerges Chairman of Ibadan LG Properties Company

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Mr. Kehinde Akande, the Caretaker Chairman, Ibadan South-West Local Government has emerged as the new chairman of Ibadan Local Government Properties Company.

He emerged winner of an election conducted at a meeting of Caretaker Chairmen for local governments and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in Ibadanland on Thursday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ibadan Property Company is a business entity of all local governments and LCDAs in Ibadanland.

Akande defeated his co-contender, Mr. Hameed Adekunle, the Chairman, Akinyele South LCDA with 16 votes to one.
Mr. Ibrahim Akintayo, the Caretaker Chairman, Ibadan North-East Local Government, told newsmen after the meeting that 16 of the 17 chairmen present voted for Akande.

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Akintayo said that the company was set up with the objective of trading in real estate businesses, while local government chairmen in Ibadaland are members of its board.

Akande, in his acceptance speech, appreciated Gov. Seyi Makinde for his forthrightness and commitment to see that Ibadan and the entire Oyo State was developed.

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He commended the governor for proving his democratic credentials by directing the local government chairmen to pick the chairman of the company through democratic means.

“As the newly elected chairman of Ibadan Local Governments Properties Company, I am using this opportunity to thank Gov. Seyi Makinde for his forthrightness to see that Ibadan and Oyo State is developed.

“This is one of the developments our able governor is bringing to the state by asking all the chairmen to elect their chairman through democratic means,” he said.

Akande said that his vision was to start doing things the right way and put Ibadan in good standing in terms of development.

“Ours is going to be visionary and sustainable development for Ibadan, and I promise to entrench transparency which is the watchword of our able governor.

“Everything we do must be transparent and I promise everyone that we are going to be accountable in everything we will be doing,” he said.

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Labour, Civil Society flays deduction of salaries of workers, pensioners by Kaduna Govt, other States

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The Labour Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 has criticised the arbitrary deduction in the salaries and pension of workers and pensioners by the Kaduna State Government and other States.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Chairman of the Labour Civil Society Situation Room, said this in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting on Thursday in Abuja.

The meeting was held to review the recent developments pertaining to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on the economic front.

Wabba said that the Labour Civil Society Situation Room reviewed the decision by the Kaduna state government and a few other states to deduct the salaries of workers in their states, including healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 challenge.

“Even worse is the threat by Gov. Nasir El-Rufai to sack affected workers if they go on strike.

”This anti-worker practice championed by the Kaduna State government violates the fundamental principles and rights at work.

“These principles and rights are key components of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) global labour standards and are also codified in our laws.

”The infringement of these rights is a crude abuse of power and akin to modern-day slavery.

“Wages are binding contracts which cannot be unilaterally or arbitrarily reviewed. It is unfortunate that while some states are giving incentives to workers at this time of grave health emergency, in line with the global trend.

“The Kaduna State Government is taking away from workers and pensioners. This is nothing but a full-blown industrial tyranny,” he said.

Wabba said the situation room was behind the ultimatum by workers in the affected states for a reversal of the unjust decision, adding it fully stands by workers’ resolve to embark on strike, if their demands were not met.

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He said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room demanded that the state governments must reciprocate Federal Government’s gesture in granting a moratorium on repayment of budget support palliatives by paying workers and pensioners their full entitlements.

“We also renew our calls for investigation on how states used the palliatives and Paris Club refunds.

“We demand that private-sector employers should stop the retrenchment of workers in the guise of COVID-19 as such moves would only impair efforts geared at economic revitalisation,” he said.

Wabba said that the Labour Civil Society Situation Room applauded the Federal Government for reversing the directive by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to place workers on half salaries based on the claims of the shortfall in revenue owing to COVID-19.

“This is the way to go for all employers in the public and private sectors in order to protect the livelihood and dignity of workers.

“The continued incidence of job losses, income deprivation and denial of the means of livelihood for workers by some employers in Nigeria on the excuse of COVID-19 is a source of worry to us,” he said.

The NLC president, therefore, said that the Labour Civil Society Situation Room recommended that for the immediate term, governments should adopt a measured approach to the fallout of COVID-19.

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Wabba said the government should not cut down on budgetary allocations to education, health, agriculture and infrastructure as these sectors were critical for the needed economic rebound and growth.

He also said the government should unfreeze the embargo on public sector jobs, adding that hike in user access charges on public utilities should be shelved for the next six months.

“Given the abuse of security votes by many political officeholders. we call for the scrapping of security votes from public budgeting in Nigeria.

“We call on political office holders to reduce their salaries and allowances in order to free up finances for other areas of national developmental needs.

“We also call for an end to medical and education tourism for elected public officials and their families.

“We call for an immediate stop to the practice of borrowing to finance consumption.

“We call for foreign loans where necessary to be tied exclusively to capital projects with feasible income and debt repayment potentials cum projections,” he said.

Wabba also called for accelerated disbursement of palliatives and loans to workers in the informal sector.

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He said that this should be transparent, inclusive and monitored by mass-based groups, adding that the conditions for access to the loans should be minimal to deepen access.

Wabba said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room also recommended that the budgetary and planning process in Nigeria should be overhauled to become more socially inclusive, citizens-centred, value objective and reflective of real national developmental needs.

“We call on the National Assembly to set in motion legislative processes to deliver the promises of Chapter Two of Nigeria’s Constitution.

“On the budget process, we must cut our cloth according to our materials. We must discard the use of assumptive and deficit budgets that cannot be funded by available resources and heavily dependent on local and foreign loans, especially for recurrent expenditure.

“We call for the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex, proper governance for our solid minerals sector, the revival of moribund textile factories and other manufacturing concerns as a demonstration of our commitment to economic diversification,” he said.

Wabba said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room reiterates its commitment to defend jobs, wages and livelihoods.

He added that all interventions in this crisis must be geared at enhancing productivity, stimulating economic growth, promoting diversification of the economy and mobilising and empowering national productive forces.

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Gov. Ugwuanyi inaugurates 13-kilometre road in Enugu East council

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Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Thursday inaugurated a 13-kilometer road that linked Abakpa Nike Lake Junction to Orie Emene to ease traffic flow in the Enugu East Local Government Area.

Inaugurating the road in Enugu on Thursday, Ugwuanyi said the project was conceived by his administration as the first bypass to ease the traffic flow in Enugu East local government.

He said that it would serve as a diversion for interstate vehicular movements as recommended by the Enugu State Urban Renewal Committee.

According to him, the bypass opens up development at the Harmony Estate in Amorji Nike, Adoration Pilgrimage Centre, and also provides access to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu currently undergoing massive rehabilitation.

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The governor also said that the completion of the entire road project was consistent with his administration’s procurement policy of starting and completion of projects.

He said the stretch from Airport roundabout to Eke Obinagu in Emene had been duly completed and inaugurated by his administration.

”It has elevated the status of Emene and its environs from a semi-urban city to an urban city within Enugu Capital Territory.

Ugwuanyi pointed out that the project would help to reflate the local economy of concerned communities and open a new economic corridor through stimulation of commerce, creation of employment, and job opportunities for the teeming youths.

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In appreciation, the Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry, Enugu Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, described the road project as unprecedented and a miracle taking off in the state.

Mbaka disclosed that the area of the ultra-modern road built by Ugwuanyi before now was a thick forest.
The cleric said that he had dreamt of the road, envisioned it while the governor actualized it.

”May God be glorified and may the governor of Enugu State be blessed in Jesus’ Name, Amen, ” he prayed.

A road was constructed with drainage channels across five rivers including culverts and Bridges that linked a busy and thickly populated Abakpa Nike with Emene satellite town.

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Personalities at the event included Speaker of the Enugu House of Assembly, Chief Edward Ubosi, the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Ngozi Emehelu.

Others were, the member representing Enugu East and Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency, Mr. Cornelius Nnaji, the PDP State Chairman, Mr. Augustine Nnamani, the Enugu East Council Chairman, Mr. Alex Ugwu, among others

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