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Gradually, the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration is building the blocks for a formidable delivery structure to ensure that only those who take the welfare of Nigerians seriously remain in public office.
Recall the presidential retreat in November 2023 and the ensuing execution of performance bonds by the president and his ministers, as well as the identification of eight priorities areas the government intends to focus on. By the document, each minister and, in some instances, a cluster of ministers, have committed to ensuring the delivery of these priorities such that Nigerians will begin to feel the impact of government in no distant time. But the president did not just take the ministers’ words for it.
At the retreat, he registered his decision to reinvigorate the Central Delivery Coordination Unit (CDCU) institutionalised by Executive Order 13 of 2022. He also announced the appointment of his Special Adviser on Policy and Coordination, Hadiza Bala Usman as head of the unit.
By then, many Nigerians had started to wonder what Bala Usman did since her appointment in July 2023, but the performance bonds were a manifestation of the hard work of those preceding months.
To ensure that the president’s vision had been properly digested, in the months before the retreat, which her office put together in collaboration with development partners, the Special Adviser held meetings with every single minister to agree on a set of deliverables.
Ahead of the bilateral meetings, each minister was presented with the report of the policy advisory council; the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC); and handover notes from the immediate past minister in each ministry.
These documents formed the basis for the three-day meetings between the technical teams of the ministries and the CDCU, which was supported by Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, as well as consulting giants, KMPG and Mckinsey. To acquaint the ministers with the modus operandi of the public service, a copy of the Public Service Rules, Financial Management Rule, Civil Service Handbook and some other relevant civil service related materials were shared with them
The bilateral sessions produced the performance bonds, which the President and Ministers signed at the end of the retreat on 3 November, 2023. The 35 ministries came up with over five hundred deliverables, which form the critical points over which all the ministers will be evaluated.
These deliverables and modalities to monitor the actualities which will bring them on stream formed the fulcrum of the recent technical retreat for Delivery Desk Officers of federal ministries on the implementation of presidential priorities and ministerial deliverables in Uyo.
The technical retreat, which held between the 23rd and 26th of January 2024 had over 140 officials, comprising three people from each of the 35 ministries. In certain instances, the representatives were directors of Planning, Research and Statistics (PRS) in their ministries. The delivery desk officers who participated in the retreat are the foot soldiers tasked with the responsibility of tracking and reporting the performance of federal ministries, departments, and agencies ahead of the final assessment by Bala Usman’s CDCU, which will then submit its report to the president.
Welcoming participants, Coordinator of the CDCU, Esege Ebei Esege, said that the retreat is expected to equip them with requisite knowledge to deliver on the eight priorities of the Tinubu administration and encouraged them to learn, unlearn and relearn in the period.
Bala Usman, on her part, charged the participants to see themselves as the engine room that will provide the information needed to track ministerial progress and report challenges and bottlenecks to the CDCU. She explained that the retreat was organised to introduce them to the framework of the delivery chain and build their capacity for effective monitoring and reporting.
Contrary to the penchant of public officers to hide under some nebulous categorisation as evidence of delivery, she stated that “the assessment will look at granular and tangible outcomes that affect the lives of citizens. In the Ministry of Aviation, for instance, we will be assessing FAAN on customers’ experience(s) at the airports: Are the escalators, lifts, and conveyor belts functional? How swift is security clearance, both for passengers and vehicles, in accessing the airport? What are the consequences of the delayed time of departure of airlines? These are things that everybody can feel and see. When we are talking about agriculture, we want to see our index of fertiliser use per hectare grow in view of the attendant investment that has been made in fertiliser interventions. We will consider regional and global benchmarks in our evaluation.”
Also, “at the Ministry of Finance, we will assess the Nigeria Customs Services on the timeliness for inspection and clearance of import and export of cargo. We will also assess them on the timeliness of resources availability to MDAs, which is core to the delivery of any mandate. We cannot do this effectively without active feedback, in line with the delivery template that we will share during this retreat, and you are the engine room of the feedback needed for this assessment, so we encourage you to put in your optimal performance in the interest of every Nigerian.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, reminded the delivery desk officers of President Tinubu’s readiness to ensure the active and direct participation of citizens in governance and the role they need to play in ensuring that MDAs deliver on their mandates.
Represented by former Permanent Secretary, General Services Office, Sir Olusegun Adekunle, the SGF said that the officers “will be responsible for the implementation of policies and programmes that will benefit Nigerians.”
He further pointed out: “In the words of the President, let me reiterate that the Renewed Hope Agenda is more than just economic growth. It is also about building a more just and equitable society for all Nigerians. It is about creating jobs, improving education and health, and reducing poverty. It is about ensuring that all Nigerians have the opportunity to succeed.”
Resource persons at the retreat included Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Professor Tunji Olaopa; Director of the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Lagos, Professor Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika; Project Country Lead for Delivery Associates, Uche Nwokediuko; Obianuju Uchenna; and Ifeoluwa Ibigbami of the TBI, as well as Abu Umar and Chioma Itodo of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
In the final analysis, Bala Usman said the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerians is the ultimate interest of the Tinubu administration. She said the President has insisted on the involvement of Nigerians in how they are governed and the CDCU is committed to actualising his dream.
According to her: “The President insists on the first-hand participation of Nigerians in the verification of delivery of programmes and projects of government. Very shortly, we will relaunch the citizens’ tracker, which will be available to Nigerians all over the country. With this tracker, you can view the list of priority programmes/projects of government every year, you can see their status and report the same. These reports will be viewed by the CDCU but even more importantly by the president through a dedicated dashboard accessible on his desk.”
She clarified that her office would not stop at assessing the performance of the Ministries but also “engage with Ministers constantly to understand their challenges and provide support when needed. Beyond the assessment, the CDCU will foster collaboration and enhance coordination among the ministries,” she explained.
All of these give the hope that Nigerians will increasingly have a say in the way they are governed and that a new era in the delivery of government policy and the capacity of citizens to verify the same is in the offing.
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