President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja said he was working towards appointing only patriotic, decent and experienced Nigerians as ministers in his government.
The President, who was responding to questions on ‘Good Morning Nigeria’, a television programme, said politicians and technocrats would make the list of nominees for ministerial appointments.
“From what I have seen so far, we need really patriotic Nigerians – Nigerians that can work very hard, knowledgeable, experienced, committed Nigerians – to be in charge of ministries.
“A lot of the institutions of Nigeria – important institutions – were compromised. Everybody was for himself and God for all of us; its most unfortunate.
“We have the people, educated people, experienced people but everybody seemed to be working for himself – how much he could get as much and as quick as possible.
“We have to look for technocrats and we have to look for politicians and certainly we have to look for decent people in this class to give them the responsibility of being in charge of ministries and important parastatals (agencies).”
Mr. Buhari has yet to appoint ministers, two months after taking office. The president said last week that he would appoint ministers in September after instilling some degree of ethics and reforms in governance.
But speaking Monday, Mr. Buhari said his government will try as much as possible to “avoid appointing hostages”.
“By this, I mean people who have been in the system but compromised their personal and professional integrity. It is taking so much time because a number of knowledgeable people have been compromised,” the president said.
“They have been compromised by people who will like to depend on them to damage our economy and security,” he said.
President Buhari said the worst scenario is to get a “compromised person to be in charge of institutions. There is no way he could be efficient or patriotic. Somebody behind the scene will be teleguiding him at the expense of the nation.
“This is what we are trying to avoid and I assure you that so much damage has been done to Nigeria. We cannot rush to give this responsibility to people that have unfortunately been compromised,” he said.
The president said he will eventually appoint ministers, as there is no way he can effectively supervise about 20 ministries.
On the reported under-dealings in the nation’s oil and gas sector, the President said the Federal Government was working very assiduously to expose the persons behind the illegal activity.
He promised that his administration would continue to update members of the public on government’s investigation into the matter.
He said government’s aim was to identify and prosecute all those found culpable.
According to him, the relevant shipping documents are being compiled for onward submission to countries of destination of stolen Nigerian crude oil.
“The search continues; up to the third of this month, our crude was still being illegally lifted by people who are in government.
“We are trying to get these documents. We are getting the cooperation of the international community.
“We are going to make sure that those who perpetrated this theft against Nigeria are faced with facts very soon and are taken to our courts.
“We’ve got the cooperation of some of the countries of the destinations of our crude (oil) and we are discussing with them.
“We have to maintain high confidentiality so that we don’t risk some of the loyal Nigerians that are helping us to trace the destinations of this stolen crude and then the accounts into which the monies are being paid instead of the Federal Government account.“
Mr. Buhari said his administration was still studying the recommendations on how the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should be reorganised.
He described his recent trip to the United States (US) as very successful as he was able to extract the commitment of the American government to assist and support Nigeria toward tackling the economic and security challenges it was facing.
He said the U.S. and other European countries had also pledged to assist Nigeria by putting in place necessary security mechanism in the Gulf of Guinea to help check the theft of the country’s crude oil.
Commenting on the leadership tussle in the National Assembly, the President reiterated his that he would not interfere directly in the affairs of the lawmakers.
Buhari, who expressed displeasure and frustration over the lingering crisis in the Assembly, however, called on those behind the dispute to search their conscious and obey party’s decisions on issues concerning their affairs.
He called on Nigerians to cooperate with his administration to move the country forward and warned that no part of the country would be allowed to operate on its own.
The President added that the Nigeria “must remain one”.
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