The two-day pre-inauguration retreat for ministers-designate ended in Abuja on Friday with the participants pledging to confront the challenges of governance and lift the masses out of poverty.
Although the sessions held behind closed doors, some of the ministers-designate told journalists the retreat was enriching.
The Minister-designate from Kogi, James Ocholli, said, “there is a lot of demands on us as the 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 ministers and the nation that most of us will hit the ground running on day one.’’
According to Mr. Ocholli, the retreat is well thought-out and well planned.
“It is an important thing that has been done by the President and the Vice President to ensure that before we even get inaugurated, we know enough to hit the ground running.’’
He said that virtually all of the participants were highly enlightened and grateful getting into government at this time with the change mantra.
A chieftain of APC and former Governor of old Abia State (now Ebonyi), Ogbonnaya Onu, said the retreat taught the participants a lot about prudence and management of scarce resources due to dwindling federal revenue.
“You can see what happened to the economy. We have had a very drastic drop in the price of crude oil, more than 50 per cent drop over the past one year.
“So, revenue coming into the country has reduced considerably.
“Government must really run in a way that we will be able to meet the aspirations of our people to make sure that Nigerians are happy.’’
The Minister-designate from Niger State, Abubakar Bawa-Bwari, said the retreat brought out strategies on how to quickly make the people feel the impact of change.
He said many things were discussed relating to how the poor could be raised adding that Nigerians should be prepared to see action.
“Seeing us here shows that we have started and anything that you don’t plan well you don’t achieve.
“Now we have sat down and we have looked at the programmes. We have been reminded of our responsibilities of what we are going to do when we get there. That is the starting point.
“So Nigerians should expect action and that we are physically and mentally ready.’’
Former Governor of Anambra, Chris Ngige, said the experience gathered over the days was quite enormous as no knowledge gained was a waste and one continued to learn every day.
“I was governor; certain things taught here I rarely know, like etiquette, protocol; but there are other things like the economy which is something that I have come to grasp today.
“I do not think that I have not benefitted in a way that will equip me face the challenges of being a minister now’’, he said.
According to Mr. Ngige, the administration would plug leakages by reducing the retinue of aides, protocol officers, and large convoys being “things that will not fly in this administration. It is a change administration.
On the non-assignment of portfolios to some of the ministers-designate, he said, “Whether you have portfolio or not, it is one Federal Executive Council, a single cabinet.
“You bring whatever you have if you have a ministry and place it in the table for everybody to see.
Mr. Ngige said the members “even have a right to discuss what happens in another ministry because it is a single FEC, one single cabinet, one single Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The purpose being that we want to move our people from where they are now, they are in abject poverty and this abject poverty concerns about 75 per cent of our populace.
“So we need to actually restructure the political and social firmament of this country and that is what it is going to be.
“Poverty will reduce, more people will smile, not very few, and that is the essence of what we are talking about for the economy.’’
A minister- designate from Ogun, said, Kemi Adeosun, said “the positive I am taking away from the retreat is that we got a lot of information on the strategy for transforming the election promises into realities for the people.
“As a team, we have bonded and we got to know each other a little better but most importantly was the strategic coming together to ensure that we are ready for the huge task ahead and I am very confident that we can do it.’’
For Usani Usani (Cross River State), “Nigerians should realize that this is a challenging period and should give their maximum cooperation possible for the administration to succeed.
“This is because the aim of the administration is sincere and honest to leverage Nigerians on a better platform for sustainable and higher standard of living.