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Iíll go in 2007, says Obasanjo

Posted by LERE OJEDOKUN, Abuja on 2005/08/19 | Views: 578 |

Iíll go in 2007, says Obasanjo

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday reiterated his readiness to quit office on May 29, 2007, saying that he has one-and-half years left to serve out his two terms of eight years as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

ēDecries killing of Igbo traders

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday reiterated his readiness to quit office on May 29, 2007, saying that he has one-and-half years left to serve out his two terms of eight years as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

He gave the assurance while declaring open a three-day retreat for ministers, special advisers, senior special assistants, permanent secretaries and special assistants at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.

Obasanjo who also expressed regrets over the killing of six Igbo traders by the police on June 8 in Abuja assured that the perpetrators would be fished out and punished.

The president said that there were goals yet to be accomplished by the administration, warning cabinet members, aides and permanent secretaries that "this government will have no room for petty bickering, sabotage, laziness, selfishness, distractions and other diversionary and escapist conduct."

He said it was imperative for members of his team to understand the basic nature of the task ahead within the remaining short time.

"We have so much to accomplish as a government, and avoidable frictions over roles and perceptions will only dissipate our energies and divert our attentions from serving the Nigerian people with commitment and purpose. Secondly, with barely over a year and a half in the life of this administration, and with the major task of consolidating on our achievements and addressing those areas that still demand for more concerted action, it is vital that we all understand the basic nature of the task ahead of us," he submitted.

President Obasanjo who hammered on the need to stand against vices and contradictions that have always militated against progress in the past, pointed out that true progress was often anchored on collective commitment to the promotion of general good, best practices, creativity and productivity.

He added that the retreat which started since 1999, has been identified as one of the strategies to explore the best avenues for achieving harmony and efficiency in the running of government machinery.

Acknowledging that there were identified frictions arising from misunderstanding of the roles of ministers as chief executive officers of ministries, and permanent secretaries as chief operations and accounting officers, he said that they were however, not insurmountable.

The President further said there was need to strengthen the elements of leadership to guarantee that only the best remain in the service.

On the management of ministries, Obasanjo said the retreat would seek to emphasise the need for a mature, constructive and responsible attitude towards the complex nature of relations at the top, even as he explained that although there may not be "fail-safe blueprint for perfect harmony," healthy respect for the political leadership was desirable.

President Obasanjo underscored the public service as pivotal to the successful execution of the ongoing reform programme, urging public servants to be more dedicated, transparent and atuned to the demands of the modern time.

"In this context, let me state that I have directed that permanent secretaries must be subjected to constant assessment and scrutiny, so that those among them who cannot lead by inspiring other civil servants with their competence, commitment and other leadership qualities are not allowed to determine the fate of the civil service and their subordinates or draw back the hand of the clock. Let no permanent secretary think that this is just one more statement that will not be followed through," he warned.

In his welcome address, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Ufot Ekaette, said the first leg of the retreat would focus on public sector reforms with mainly ministers and permanent secretaries as target.

The second leg, he stated, would embrace captains of industry, executives of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

"The purpose of this retreat would have been fully served if at the end, we leave this venue better informed, better equipped, returned and rejuvenated to discharge our responsibilities more effectively, more efficiently, with integrity accountability and commitment to the progress and stability of our nation," Chief Ekaette said.

Meanwhile, Obasanjo also warned that any policeman caught violating the law would not only be dismissed forthwith but would be prosecuted.

The President spoke through his Police Affairs Minister, Chief Broderick Bozimo at the opening of a two-day seminar on prevention of human rights violation in Nigeria holding in Abuja.

Obasanjo had earlier set up a judicial commission of inquiry headed by Justice Olasumbo Goodluck into the killings at Apo Mechanic Village following the public outcry that greeted the tragedy. It is yet to submit its report

Speaking on the issue however, he said: "The recent tragic incident in Apo in which six fellow Nigerians lost their lives in circumstances yet to be fully unraveled, is deeply regretted.

"I wish to use this medium to reiterate that the Federal Government is determined to get to the root of the matter," he added.

The president explained that after the issues had been unraveled "the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on the culprits of the dastardly act who are found to have been involved in the perpetration of this most heinous crime."

He called on the seminar to evolve strategy and policy direction that would guarantee human rights protection in the country.

Warning on the dangers of tolerating a corrupt police, President Obasanjo stated that his administration had taken a tough stance against despicable acts, pointing out that the only option was for the police to imbibe his zero tolerance stance on such acts.

Similarly, he warned that other arms of the nationís security apparati are similarly warned.

"The new police force we are building is one dedicated to the service and protection of the people of Nigeria, with pride, dignity and consummate professionalism.

"The new force has no place for corruption and all its attendant ramifications. A corrupt police force is an ineffective, inefficient and disrespected police force.

"With this administrationís zero-tolerance for corrupt practices, and our single-minded dedication to entrenching the ideals of transparency, accountability and due process, any member of the force, no matter how highly or lowly placed, who dishonours his uniform by engaging in these despicable acts, will not only face dismissal, but he or she will be rigorously prosecuted," Obasanjo stressed.

The President further challenged Chief Security Officers nationwide to serve as watchdogs in ensuring that the ideals are imbibed.

Pointing out that protection of human rights remain sacrosanct, he warned of the consequences of the police violating such rights.

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