By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
The valedictory session of FEC was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa. Abuja.
The President in his remarks said he refused to rejig the cabinet in the last three and half years because the ministers contributed their divergent views during heated debates which eventually led to rational decisions taken by the Council.
Though Wednesday’s FEC was the last Council meeting, the President urged them to continue in office and hand over to their various Permanent Secretaries next Tuesday, a day before his oath-taking for second term in office.
He ordered the ministers to submit their handing over letters to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) thereafter.
On why he held on to the ministers for that long, Buhari said “Although we all had a common vision, we frequently had heated debates in this room on the best way to achieve our goals. These differing views are what made the decisions we took all the more rational.
It is this quality that made me retain my cabinet for the full term. Each of you in this room has a unique skill and strength. We are a reflection of the Nigeria we aspire to achieve. A diverse but tolerant nation where no one is silenced and where every opinion should be heard and considered.”
While commending the cabinet members for serving to the best of their abilities, the President added “You should be proud to have been part of the Government that liberated the local governments previously under Boko Haram rule.
“You should be proud to have contributed to our food security and economic diversification agenda which led to the revival of our rural agrarian economy
“You should be proud to have been part of the team that developed the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which led Nigeria exiting its worst recession in decades.
“You should be proud to have introduced the social investment program that enhanced livelihoods of millions of Nigerians.
“You should be proud to have participated in settling outstanding pensions of many senior citizens abandoned by previous governments while supporting state governments to meet their salary arrears.
“And of course, you should all be proud to have overseen the most ambitious road, rail and airport rehabilitation programs in the history of our country.
“I want to put on record, that your achievements in the last three and a half hears has guaranteed your position in the history books of this nation. You have certainly built the foundations for an improved economy and a more purposeful government.”
The President recalled that his administration inherited a broken economy which eventually went into recession in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2016.
The situation, he added, was further compounded by insecurity and massive corruption.
According to him, “Many would have given up. Indeed, many outside commentators said our situation was well nigh hopeless. However, we all came together and
pushed forward to deliver our campaign promise to rescue our country
from its parlous state.”
Buhari, who recognized that the success recorded so far by his administration was made possible by the the cooperation and hard work of the ministers, also paid tributes to those ministers who resigned their appointments for one reason or the other as well as the dead, late James Ocholi SAN who,died alongside his wife and son in a road accident.
Ministers who were given three minutes each to make their valedictory comments took their turns to pour encomiums on the President for giving them the opportunity to serve the country.
The ministers, who said they had learnt a lot of lessons serving under the President, also commended Buhari and the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, for providing purposeful leadership and giving a right direction for the country.
Buhari was specifically applauded for his integrity and dedication as well as for his calmness in the face of daunting challenges.
Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu in his comments advised the President to take more interest in investment into Information Communication Technology (ICT) which he claimed had the potential of transforming the nation economically.
As the ministers were exiting the Villa, they were seen handing over their diplomatic passports to the protocol officials of the State House.