Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has reminded the ministers designate that the presidential retreat being conducted for them before their assumption of office was aimed at setting agenda for the next four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
“It is expected that the outcome of this retreat will set a strategic agenda which would define our course of action for the next four years of the Administration, set achievable targets and identify basic strategic options that will assist the new cabinet realize the goals for which the Administration was elected to achieve,” Mustapha said.
In his welcome address at the retreat being held in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, beginning from August 19, he said that the objective of the retreat was to prepare the new cabinet in driving and coordinating the affairs and activities of the various socio-economic and political spheres of the nation.
According to him, the retreat would afford participants the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their roles and responsibilities as cabinet ministers, “an understanding that will help to shape and streamline efforts towards achieving the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people of Nigeria.”
He stated further that, “The Federal Executive Council, referred to in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as the Executive Council of the Federation, is the principal instrument of policy decisions for the Federation, being the body charged with the responsibility for enunciating policies on matters to which the executive authority of the Federation extends.
“Section 148 Subsection 1&2 (a-c) defines the responsibilities of the Federal Executive Council. It stipulates that the President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice President and all the Ministers of the Government of the Federation for the purposes of:
- Determining the general direction of domestic and foreign policies of the Government of the Federation;
- Coordinating the activities of the President, the Vice President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities; and,
- Advising the President generally in the discharge of his executive functions with respect to which he is required by the constitution to seek the advice or act on the recommendation of any other person or body.”
The SGF said that ministers were collectively responsible for policy decisions in Council, adding that though individual minister could differ in opinions during deliberations on any proposal before Council, but that once a decision was taken, it would be a binding Council decision that no minister could speak against either in public or private, no matter the argument he/she presented during discussion on the proposal.
According to him, “This principle of collective responsibility also infers that a Minister has responsibilities wider than those relating to his/her assigned portfolio and will, in that capacity, receive documents from other Ministers/Ministries, which do not concern the subjects under his/her portfolio, requiring his/her consideration and contribution during the weekly Council meetings.
“It is in this wise that this retreat was conceptualized in three thematic phases comprising, a context-setting segment, which will be led by His Excellency, the Vice President and supported by our team of consultants, Messrs. Mckinsey & Co. and KPMG.
“The second thematic area involves articulating the priorities of Government and target setting, encompassing all sectors of our national life. This segment is principally designed to be more interactive, setting the values of team work as your appointments demand, which will be demonstrated by your involvement in syndicated breakout sessions focused on topics across defined Government priority areas.
“The first day will close with presentations at plenary of group outcomes arising from the syndicated discussions on priority areas.”
(With additional report from an online source).