President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told incoming ministers that all requests for meetings with him should pass through his chief of staff, Mallam Abba Kyari.
Buhari said this in his closing remark at a presidential retreat for minister’s designate in Abuja.
He said: “In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council, FEC matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,”.
Kyari has been criticised by some Nigerians including members of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC, for his strong influence over the president.
The First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, is among those who have complained bitterly about the powers Kyari wields in the presidency.
Some APC members had protested against the re-appointment of Kyari, a longtime ally of the president. The president, however, reappointed him to the position.
Part of the President’s speech read: “These last two days have been very instructive for me personally, because I have had the opportunity to know many of you new Ministers-Designate better. I was also pleased to see that you have all equally enjoyed debating and deliberating on the various challenges before us over the next four years.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, majority of our people are poor and are anxiously hoping for a better life. A Nigeria in which they do not have to worry about what they will eat, where they will live or if they can afford to pay for their children’s education or healthcare.
“Our responsibility as leaders of this great country is to meet these basic needs for our people. As I mentioned yesterday, this Administration inherited many challenges from our predecessors to mention a few:
- A country in which 18 local governments in the Northeast were under the control of Boko Haram;
- Decayed infrastructure in which our rail lines and roads had severely deteriorated;
- A rent seeking economy that depended largely on oil revenues and imports;
- Significant unpaid pensions, subsidy debts, legacy contractor debts. I can go on and on.
“In our first term, we laid the foundation to rebuild our country. We recaptured those 18 Local Governments previously held by Boko Haram, whose activities are now limited to sporadic attacks against soft targets. Our investments in road and rail infrastructure are without precedent, and many of you can attest to this.
“We also focused on diversifying the economy from oil towards agriculture and industrialization. Despite reduced revenues from oil and gas compared to past governments, we have broadly addressed many of the legacy debts they left behind.
“Whilst we have obvious successes to celebrate, the challenges ahead are significant as you would have observed in detail over these two days. Nevertheless, from the quality of the deliberations, it is clear that solutions to our problems are well researched and have been well articulated.
“We have discussed solutions relating to addressing Insecurity; Macroeconomic Stability; Agriculture and Food Security; Energy Security for Petroleum products and Electricity; Transportation and Critical Infrastructure; Industrialization and SME Development; Human Capital Development; Social Inclusion; Anti-Corruption; Housing Financing and Consumer Credit.
“Public service is not easy work, and at times it can be thankless. I am therefore charging you all to see this opportunity to serve as an honour, to give your best to deliver on this mandate, for a more prosperous Nigeria, not for some, but for all Nigerians.
“You will find that working collaboratively and purposefully will enable us to achieve quicker results, recognizing that four years is not a very long time. For the new Ministers, make sure you engage and benefit from the experience of the older Ministers and former Governors in the cabinet.
“ In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channeled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“ I would like to thank the Office of the SGF for coordinating this successful Presidential Retreat. I would also like to thank the National Assembly leadership, the Party Chairman, Chairman of the Governors Forum, and resource firms, for the active engagements and contributions.
‘’Once again, the challenges that lie ahead of us as a country are significant. But I have no doubt in your individual capacities and our collective patriotic commitment to deliver a better Nigeria for us, our children and a brighter future for all”.