Countdown to handover: FEC holds last session, govs dissolve cabinets

With barely four days to the end of his regime, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday, in Abuja, presided over a valedictory meeting of the Federal Executive Council, thanking ministers for their loyalty since 2015.

He also gave a short thank-you address to all members of the State House Staff, at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Details of the six-hour meeting held behind closed doors were later disclosed to journalists in a statement signed late Wednesday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, and a post-FEC briefing anchored by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

After ministers took turns to express their minds, Buhari thanked them for their steadfastness in pursuing the goals of his regime, urging support for the incoming Bola Tinubu-led administration, even from the outside government.

“I am proud to say we gave our best,” said Buhari.

He directed all cabinet members to return to their ministries, tidy their desks and avoid last-minute rush that could jeopardise their years of work.

He stated, “In the cause of our years together, ranging from our newest addition to the oldest members of the team for the past seven and half years, we have differed on many issues.

“I urge that we understand that those positions were for the collective good, and no one should keep grievances or carry these differences forward.

“For those of us that will not directly be in government, I know that I am one of such, I ask that we continue to provide our support, in whatever way we can, if called upon by our great party, All Progressives Congress that gave us the platform to stand and we must continue to support it in every way we can,’’ the President said.

Buhari also ascribed the achievements of his regime to God’s intervention, saying “I also thank God for the strength and for keeping us together.’’

Return to cattle-rearing

“I will also be happy to do the many things that I have not been able to since May 29th, 2015, one of such is my favourite pastime of taking care of my cattle.’’

After the meeting, Buhari met State House members of Staff at the forecourt, thanking them for “tolerating” him and assuring them that he had not withheld any benefits that were due them in the past eight years.

“I thank you very much for your cooperation. Thank you for tolerating us as a government and particularly for tolerating me as a leader.

“I tried to lead myself with a clear conscience. Whatever was constitutionally your right according to the conditions of service, this government hasn’t cheated you,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, described the atmosphere in the Council Chambers, saying all cabinet members were given a few minutes to describe their time in office.

He also debunked a rumour claiming that FEC had been dissolved, saying the council was still in force.

Mohammed said the President had directed Ministers to continue work in their various offices till May 29, 2023.

“The news that the Federal Executive Council has been dissolved is not correct. We’ve been directed by the President that we should all go back and return to our offices.

“So it is not true that the Federal Executive Council has been dissolved, it is still very much alive. And I’m sure that we’re going to work up till May 29. So please ignore the fake news,” he explained.

The minister revealed that ministers adopted minutes of the two extraordinary FEC meetings as they took turns to give their farewell speeches.

“It’s instructive to note that each and every minister present today, and I’m not aware of any who was absent, was given between two to five minutes to make his or her own valedictory speech and I think largely everybody commended Mr President and thanked the President for the opportunity to serve the country at this level.

“Many also took the opportunity to reel out what his or her own ministry or department had achieved over the last eight years. There are about three categories of ministers; there are ministers that came in 2015 and us who were retained till 2023. There are ministers that came in 2019 and have been there till 2023 and there are the last batch of ministers that came in about nine months ago.

“So everybody made his or her own valedictory speech, depending on how long he or she had been occupying the position. But generally, I think it was just a glorious moment for all the ministers to thank the President, thank their colleagues and also give gratitude to God, that a journey that started in 2015 is ending very well in 2023,” Mohammed explained.

“Everybody, including the Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Service, the Vice President, all made their valedictory speeches and then the President responded, and I think, largely, he thanked all of us for our contributions and prayed for us in our next endeavour.

“He reiterated the fact that we should all go back to our offices so that we can carry out the assignments and tasks assigned to us in respect of the transition program”, he added

Also at the FEC on Wednesday approved N281bn worth of projects for the Ministry of Power including the provision of a new power plant for Daura, Buhari’s hometown.

State cabinets

Meanwhile, state governors on Wednesday started dissolving their cabinets.

In Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced the dissolution of his cabinet ahead of his swearing-in for a second term in office on Monday, May 29.

According to a circular issued on Wednesday by the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, all appointed commissioners, special advisers, and others would officially vacate their positions on Friday, in line with the directive of the governor.

The governor directed the appointees to declare their assets in line with “the provision of paragraph 11 (1b), Part One of the Fifth Schedule of Nigeria Constitution on End of Tenure Assets Declaration.”

The circular stated that “It is hereby notified for general information that Mr Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, has directed that political appointees, specifically honourable Commissioners, Special Advisers (cabinet and non-cabinet), all Assistants (Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants, Personal Assistants, Technical Assistants, personal aides, etc) be notified of the end of the term of their appointments, with effect from the close of work on Friday, 26 May 2023.”

The circular, however, added that tenures of political appointees, whose appointments were by legislation or are tenure-based and members of statutory commissions and governing councils had not lapsed.

“Therefore, all affected political office holders are expected to prepare individual handover notes and return any government property, including utility/project vehicles in their possession to the accounting officer/most senior director of their respective ministries, department and agencies.

“In addition to handing over to their respective permanent secretaries, cabinet members are to send a copy of the handover notes to the permanent secretary, Cabinet Office not later than Friday, 26, May, 2023,’’ it further noted.

The governor, while wishing the affected political officeholders success in their future endeavours, appreciated their contributions and roles to the development of the state, especially the significant milestones recorded under the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda.

Sanwo-Olu thanked the appointees and wished them well in their future endeavours.

The governor would be sworn in on Monday for his second term in office after winning the March 18 governorship election in the state.

In Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde disbanded the state’s executive council and terminated the appointments of all political officeholders.

The directive was conveyed in a letter signed by the Chief of Staff to the Governor and Chairman of the Transition and Inauguration Committee, Segun Ogunwuyi.

The governor instructed all affected officials to immediately hand over government properties in their possession to the most senior civil servant in their respective ministries, departments and agencies.

The governor’s first term in office will end in five days.

Political officeholders in statutory commissions are excluded from the directive.

The governor expressed gratitude for the contributions of the appointees to the development of the state and wished them success in their future endeavours.

The letter read, “I have the directive of the Executive Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde to inform you of the dissolution of the Oyo State Executive Council and the termination of the appointment of all political officeholders with effect from today. Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

“All political officeholders are required to officially hand over and submit all government properties in their possession to the most senior civil servant in their respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“Please note that political officeholders in statutory commissions are excluded from this directive.

“His Excellency appreciates your tremendous contributions to the development of our dear State and wishes you success in your future endeavours. I thank you.”

Similarly, the outgoing Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje has ordered all political appointees to hand over the affairs of their offices in line with the established procedure.

The directive was contained in a statement titled, ‘Handover Activities’ from the office of the Secretary to the State Government and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Hajiya Bilkisu Maimota.

The governor directed all commissioners, special advisers, chief executives of parastatals, government-owned companies and other political appointees to hand over to the permanent secretaries and directors, administration and general services in their respective establishments.

He further ordered that all the government properties in possession of the appointees be handed over to the permanent secretaries or directors, administration and general services or directors, and personnel management, as the case may be latest by May 26.

Kano gov-elect

Meanwhile, Ganduje has presented the 2023 transition report to the Governor-elect, Abba Yusuf.

In a short meeting at the Kano Government House ante chamber on Wednesday, Ganduje who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Allah, reiterated his commitment to ensuring a seamless transition on May 29.

He urged the incoming administration to study the transition report and provide feedback where necessary as he appreciated the members of the outgoing government transition committee for producing three volumes of the report that cover all sectors of the state.

In his remarks, Yusuf, represented by the Chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party Gubernatorial Transition Committee, Dr Abdullahi Bichi indicated that his committee will report to the incoming governor and revert with any observations, if any.

“At this time, we have just 105 hours to formal handover and takeover of government in Kano State; as such we are committed to a hitch-free transition in the interest of Kano and its people,” he stated

A statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor-elect, Sanusi Tofa explained that the details of the inauguration ceremony would be made available to the public after some certain agreements have been reached between the outgoing and incoming governments.

<<Punch>>