•As court refuses to stop their inauguration
By Lawrence Olaoye and Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has charged ministers-designate on the need to communicate and cooperate with one another in the discharge of their duties in development and implementation of government policies.
This is as a Federal High Court Abuja, yesterday refused to grant an order seeking to stop President Buhari from inaugurating the newly appointed ministers, over non-inclusion of Abuja indigenes in the list.
The President gave this charge in his presentation at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers Designate, Federal Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries at the Presidential Villa yesterday.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, in his speech at the occasion also urged the participants to share in the President’s vision of delivering dividends of democracy to the people in the discharge of their duties.
Buhari said “Honourable Ministers-Designate, you will be responsible for the development and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in your various Ministries, Departments and Agencies in line with Government priorities. You must also ensure that Agencies under your Ministries are effective, efficient and accountable in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Honourable Ministers-Designate, we must work as a team. Although you have been chosen to represent your states as a constitutional imperative, it is vital for all of you to work as Nigerians.
Furthermore, working as a team demands that we know what the next person is doing. You must open communications with your colleagues.
Lack of communication leads to lack of cooperation and sub-optimal performance.”
While congratulating the ministers, the President expressed the hope that the ministers would have been abreast of their roles and responsibilities at the end of the two-day retreat.
Noting that it was a privilege for the ministers to be counted among a few selected to serve the country, Buhari told them “There will be long hours and you must be prepared to live laborious days if we are to serve our people optimally.”
He reminded them of the frightening demographic potential which estimated the nation’s population at 411 million by 2050 that put Nigeria third only after India and China. The President however expressed the hope that solution lies with the leadership.
Buhari reminded the participants that his administration in its first term identified three salient areas for close attention and gave himself a pass mark in those three areas of security, economy and fight against corruption.
On his expectations, the President said “As Ministers, I am counting on you together with Advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to build upon our road map of policies, programmes and projects that will lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity.”
On the court ruling, the Ex-parte motion application was brought before the court by an aggrieved Indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory and legal practitioner, Musa Baba-Panya declined to grant the order.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, declining to grant the application, however ordered that the respondents be put on notice.
Baba-panya, had on behalf of himself and the indigenes of Abuja, dragged President Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF to court for failing to appoint an indigene of the FCT out of 43 ministerial nominees into the Federal Executive Council.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/878/19, President Muhammadu Buhari and the AGF were mentioned as 1st and 2nd respondents respectively.
The applicant argued that the court should grant them an order
stopping Buhari from going ahead with the planned inauguration pending the hearing and determination of the main suit challenging the exclusion of the FCT representation in the cabinet.
However, Justice Taiwo In his judgement, held that the applicant was guilty of delay, since the names of the ministers have already been confirmed by the National Assembly.
The judge held that the applicant has not established a legal right, so the court has no place to grant an injunction rather, the court will grant an accelerated hearing in the main suit.
He, however, advised the plaintiff to serve the processes on the AGF alone, since it may be very difficult to personally serve Buhari with the suit.
The court further held that the matter shall be placed on the court list after service is done personally on the respondents.
Arguing the motion last week, Baba-panya, who is from Karu in the FCT, submitted that the President’s action was contrary to a Court of Appeal judgment delivered on March 15, 2018.
Baba-panya submitted that the Appeal Court ruling was a compelling order, which was served on the president through the AGF.
In his originating summon dated August 7, and filed August 8, the applicant argued that ‘’the 43 confirmed ministerial appointees now awaiting swearing-in or inauguration as the Federal Executive Council is incomplete, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.’’
‘’The 1st defendant stands in contempt of law and court for his brazen refusal to comply with the tenor of the Abuja Division of Court of Appeal’s judgment of 15/1/2018 compelling him to the immediate and forthwith appointment of an indigene of FCT, Abuja as Minister of the federation,’’ he said.
He therefore prayed the court to grant an interim injunction restraining the president from inaugurating the confirmed Ministers-designate pending the determination of the motion on notice.
Meanwhile, indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory have threatened a showdown with the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal government, following their alleged non representation in the Federal Executive Council.
Shortly after the judgement, the Spokesman of the Coalition of FCT indigenes, Ahmed Yusuf, spoke to journalists, warning that they would no longer tolerate acts of marginalisation and disregard by the Federal government.