President Muhammadu Buhari did not dissolve his cabinet on Wednesday, with just a week to the end of his first tenure.
Buhari, who will begin his a second term on May 29, presided over a valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council and asked his ministers to continue to work till May 28.
On May 28, he said they should submit their handover reports to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
He said, “Although today is our last council meeting, I expect all of you to continue working until Tuesday, 28 May 2019 when you will officially hand over your schedules to your respective permanent secretaries.
“Your handover letters should be submitted to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”
The President said he decided not to dissolve his cabinet since 2015 because each of the ministers had their unique skills and strength.
Buhari said, “Over the past three and a half years, we worked together to deliver our campaign promises. I strongly believe that it is this teamwork that led to the successes recorded during our first term.
“Although we all have 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.”
In a moment of emotion, he recalled the death of a former cabinet member, James Ocholi, who died in a road accident just four months into inauguration.
He also had kind words for some ministers who left the cabinet.
Buhari said, “Some of our colleagues, with who we started this journey, unfortunately are not here to join us in celebrating our successes.
“Specifically, I must recognise our brother, James Ocholi (SAN), who passed away in a fearful road accident with his wife, Blessing and son, Joshua, only four months after being sworn in as a minister.
“I want us to all put him, and indeed his family, in our memory.
“I also acknowledge the contributions of other council members who resigned before the completion of our tenure to pursue other opportunities.”
He said the country faced enormous challenges when his administration came on board in 2015, saying the ministers worked hard and scored many achievements.
Buhari added, “We inherited a broken economy which eventually went into recession in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2016. The situation was further compounded by insecurity and massive corruption.
“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.”
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was elated over the trust Buhari had in him in the past four years, particularly when he was away on medical vacation outside the country.
Some of the ministers took turns to share their experiences, with some recalling that the sessions of the FEC dragged unnecessarily because some ministers spoke too much.
The Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, defended Buhari’s decision to delay the appointment of ministers in 2015 for about six months. He noted that the delay paid off with the choice of ministers.
He said, “I wish to say that the lateness or the delay has been worthwhile because over the last three and a half years, we have had one team which has been very compact, focused and determined to contribute its quota under your leadership.”
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, called for additional funding of education up to N1tn to rescue the sector from further deterioration.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, told his colleagues how Buhari never requested any oil blocs or contracts. He also said he didn’t know Buhari personally prior to his appointment.
He said, “Unlike many people, I didn’t know Mr President directly but you gave me the twin portfolios of Managing Director of the NNPC and Minister of State for Petroleum. This put on me the responsibility to try and cleans that ministry so that it will be useful to Nigerians.”
The Minister of Transportation , Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said his joy remained that Buhari disappointed “those who thought he had an agenda to Islamise Nigeria”.
He added, “Mr President, let me thank you for not converting me to Islam. I say that specifically because in 2014, when I walked into Christ the King Catholic Church, I was literally chased out of the church as a governor because I was accused of supporting a man whose agenda was to Islamise Nigeria. And in Rivers State, they began to call me Alhaji Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. I thank you because they have dropped the Alhaji and back to Mr Chibuike Amaechi.”