Revelation into why President Muhammadu Buhari failed to inject fresh hands into his cabinet for a straight four-year term, despite subtle pressure from a cross section of Nigerians, emerged on Wednesday, just as the president hosted his team to a valedictory session at the State House, Abuja.
Buhari, who said heated debates sometimes characterise their weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings, also said they enable them make rational decision on the long run.
But contrary to the expectation of Nigerians, the president failed to dissolve his cabinet on May 22, hinging it on the unique skills and strength that each of the ministers has.
He said the diversity in thought of the ministers were a reflection of the diversity of the entire country, hence every opinion mattered and needed to be considered thoroughly.
“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,” the president stated at the valedictory session.
While mandating the ministers to continue to hold brief in their respective ministries and submit their handover notes to their permanent secretaries on May 28, which happens to be the eve of his official swearing-in for a fresh four-year term, Buhari said they ought to be proud of contributing their quota to the development of the country, especially with the initial challenges that trailed the current administration.
“Although today is our last council meeting, I expect all of you to continue working until Tuesday, May 28, 2019, when you will officially hand over your schedules to your respective permanent secretaries. Your handing over letters should be submitted to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“I want you all to leave this meeting proud to have served your nation to the best of your ability. You should be proud to have been part of the government that liberated the local government areas 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 programme 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 programmes in the history of our country.
“I must put on record that your achievements in the last three and a half years 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”.