By Muideen Olaniyi Abbas Jimoh
There is the likelihood that President Muhammadu Buhari will sack more ministers when the ongoing performance appraisal is completed.
The president alluded to this on Monday at the opening of a two-day Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat organised to assess the achievements of the nine key priorities of the administration and the performances of top government functionaries.
The retreat is being attended by ministers, permanent secretaries and other top government officials.
Buhari said that he will sit through all the sessions to listen to the cumulative assessment of the administration’s performance over the last 2 years.
Daily Trust recalled that during the past reviews, the president only participated in the opening sessions and allowed the assessors to preside over the remaining days.
In his speech yesterday, the president warned all ministers and permanent secretaries to take issues relating to the implementation of their mandates towards the attainment of the objectives of his administration seriously.
The president had in September fired the Ministers of Agriculture, Mohammed Sabo Nanono, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Saleh Mamman over poor performance.
They were the first ministers to be sacked by the president since he assumed office in 2015.
In a statement, Buhari through his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said the removal of Nanono and Mamman was sequel to the “Tradition of subjecting our projects and programmes implementation to independent and critical self-review” through sector reporting during cabinet meetings and at retreats.
Buhari’s statement, insiders told the Daily Trust, was an indirect reference to a cabinet office review he commissioned with the mandate to ascertain the performance of all ministries.
There were expectations that the president would sack more ministers on October 1, but he did not.
What the president said during the retreat
President Buhari Monday participated in the discussions on the best approach and strategies to implement planned policies, programmes and projects that could diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil revenue while sustaining the current economic growth trajectory.
President Buhari said the idea of the assessment was to identify weak areas to strengthen the ability of the government to meet the expectations of Nigerians.
“Two years and some months into the second term, the tradition of subjecting our projects and programmes implementation to independent and critical self-review has taken firm roots through sector reporting during cabinet meetings and at retreats,” he said.
The president said the retreat had been designed to review the performance of each minister in delivering the ministerial mandates, including programmes and projects assigned to them upon their appointment in 2019; identify key impediments to implementation; and re-strategise on how to accelerate delivery of results, given the current economic situation.
He said it also provided the opportunity to effectively evaluate the activities of the ministries over the last two years in delivering the promises made to Nigerians.
President Buhari, at the retreat, unveiled the presidential priorities performance management system.
He said the performance management system and dashboard, which had been in effect since January this year, had provided him with the opportunity to track projects in real-time with live data.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, while speaking, said the 878 contracts approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) mostly targeted the provision of infrastructure geared towards enabling faster economic growth and development.
Mustapha said the key focus of this mid-term ministerial retreat was to review the status of progress towards the delivery of the nine priority areas.
He said annual targets had been split into quarterly intermediate targets at the output and outcome levels to create an Early Warning System (EWS) and to address the issue of lack of intermediate targets.
The SGF said his office will be submitting quarterly progress reports on the implementation of the ministerial mandates to the president to keep him apprised of the level of achievement of the deliverables against set targets.
“The outcome of the retreat is expected to pave the way to accelerate the delivery of government policies, programmes, and projects over the remaining 19 months.
“Therefore, much is expected of us as ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of strategic government agencies if we must deliver on the president’s legacy projects,” he said.
Our correspondents report that the retreat had heightened tension over fears that the president might soon relieve more ministers of their jobs.
President Buhari, it was gathered, was not satisfied with the performance of some of the ministers whose names were said to have been compiled for necessary action.
Presidency sources said the president might have delayed the submission of names of new personalities to replace Nanono and Mamman to accommodate those who will equally take over from more ministers that failed to meet up with performance targets after the retreat.
Speaking on the development, a retired Permanent Secretary, Mr Olaniyi Ayodele Afolayan, said that one of the ways to manage performance was to use relevant tools that would ensure everybody got their roles by giving them their key performance indicators.
“To balance it, if you give people performance indicators, you must give them the tools and the resources to work with it. That is the expectation. If this is done, Nigerians should expect better service delivery,” Afolayan said.
Another retired permanent secretary who does not want to be named said the president was in a race against time.
“He has less than two years to deliver his legacy projects; to prove to Nigerians that he did well during his eight years as president.
“I wish he showed this kind of optimism from the first year of his administration by assessing his ministers and other people in the position of trust and sacked those who performed below expectation. It will have served as deterrence. Sadly, the president gave the impression that once you are appointed you will not be removed and therefore, many of them went to sleep on duty,” he said.