President Muhammadu Buhari has said that only people with integrity will make his cabinet in his second tenure in office.
The President, who also promised women and youths that his administration will not disappoint them, said he will not exclude people of his generation which, he said, was his own constituency in the distribution of positions.
Mr Buhari stated this during a victory dinner organised by his wife, Aisha, on Saturday night for All Progressives Congress Youths and Women Presidential Campaign Council at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While acknowledging the role played by women and youths towards his re-election, he reassured Nigerian women and youths that he will not disappoint them in the next four years.
The group, women and youths, had in their demands appealed for more women and youth representation in the next cabinet.
But Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a swift reaction to the President’s declaration yesterday, said he was playing to the gallery.
However, Transparency International held different position, welcoming the President’s pledge but urged him to move with urgency in refining policies and programmes of government that will address key development issues facing the country.
Buhari in his remarks, promised that only those with integrity and interest of Nigeria will be considered for appointment in the next cabinet.
“I assure you that I have listened to the representation made that my cabinet should include women and youth. Don’t celebrate it yet, I said I have listened to some of the representation made here. Well, I am considering some of the old people and I will protect my constituency too.
“But I assure you that I will continue to have a team of people of integrity that are really concerned with Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Assuring them that in his second term in office, he will not disappoint them, Buhari said: “I will not disappoint you, our objectives are the same. We have to fix this country so that the next generation can have a country to be proud of.
“We are working very hard to get the infrastructure in place, the roads, the rails so that Nigeria will mind their own businesses.
“I very much appreciate your coming here tonight, but I’m congratulating ourselves for succeeding, if we had failed, my good God. Thank goodness we have succeeded.”
He noted that more fertilizers were being made available to Nigerian farmers at a lower rate, adding that food importation was reducing, while more Nigerians have started to embrace agriculture.
The President also faulted the 16 years rule of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for allegedly wasting the nation’s resources.
According to him, there were rampant infrastructural decays, despite huge resources earned in the period.
“Please continue to bear with us, we have a very short time in terms of the damage done to the country. I have tried to educate people on the condition we found ourselves when we came in 2015.
“My short experience in the petroleum industry for three and a quarter years, gave me an idea about the economy of Nigeria and I never let go,’’ he said.
The President explained that it had taken long to reposition Nigeria because of alleged long time waste of resources by PDP-led administration that held sway for 16 years.
He reiterated his earlier vow not to betray the confidence of Nigerians in re-electing him, describing his victory as a sign that Nigerians were satisfied with the change that his government embarked upon.
He also said his victory in the February 23 election was an expression of confidence in his promise of its consolidation as idealized by the next level campaign.
In her remarks, wife of the President expressed happiness at the overwhelming confidence reposed in Buhari by Nigerians, assuring them that he will use his second tenure to serve the interest of the masses, especially by addressing the huge gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria.
She said: “I wish I can invite all the 15 million Nigerians that voted for Mr. President to this dinner, but no place can accommodate you all. So let me say thank you and assure you that you made the right choice.”
Mrs. Buhari also thanked the Women and Youth Presidential Campaign team, which she said, complemented APC Presidential Campaign Council, as well as Buhari Support Organization.
“Specifically, I wish to express my appreciation to the women and youth presidential campaign team that I initiated to complement the efforts of APC Presidential Campaign Council.
“As you all know by now, the aim of setting up the team was to get women and youth, who form the majority of the electorate, involved in all the campaign activities across the country,’’ she said.
She said this was a successful experiment that will be recognized in the nation’s political history.
The First Lady used the opportunity to call on all Buhari campaign groups to raise the flag on government whenever they observe the need to do so.
Buhari playing to the gallery — PDP
Reacting, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, claimed that the President was playing to the gallery, adding that rather than jump to form a new cabinet, he should await the ruling of the election tribunal to determine the legitimacy or otherwise of the mandate upon which he intends to appoint new ministers.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Diran Odeyemi, said the President had, by his statement, admitted that outgoing ministers did not merit their appointments in the first place.
He said: “The President needs not be in a hurry to form a cabinet. It took him more than five months to appoint ministers when he was elected in 2015, so why is he in a hurry? He is just playing to the gallery.
“Majority of Nigerians opine that he is a product of rigged election this time and for that reason, he must wait patiently for the tribunal’s ruling before thinking of new ministers.”
According to him, Nigerians are not fooled and will continue to demand justice for its presidential candidate, Mr Atiku Abubakar, because they know he was shortchanged.
“If the President said the new ministers will be men of integrity, is he now saying those he appointed in 2015 lacked the virtue?
‘’Nigerians can now see what PDP has been saying all the while. APC-led administration was a mistake and Nigerians have done well to reject it with the power of their votes.”
Transparency International reacts
In his reaction, Head of Transparency International in Nigeria, Mr. Auwal Musa, welcomed the President’s decision but urged him to move with urgency in refining policies and programmes of government that will address key development issues facing the country.
He said: “This is a welcome development coming from Mr. President. CISLAC/Transparency International supports any sincere effort towards sanitizing and improving our governance process in Nigeria by ensuring transparent and accountable leadership through appointing or selecting people with integrity, moral superiority, competence and patriotic mind across Nigeria to contribute to our nation building.
“We also suggest that the President should ensure that all boards, ministerial, ambassadorial appointments are done in good time to allow smooth governance and accountability in government
“We urgently urge Mr. President to carry out some policy reforms to address some key economic, political and social development issues with right caliber of qualified Nigerians to close gaps in governmental affairs.
“Transparency International Nigeria/CISLAC wants to see Mr. President making deliberate efforts to strengthen our anti-corruption agencies and embark on massive preventive awareness of corruption, and also comply with best international practices in fighting corruption and promoting human rights in Nigeria.”