•Sets ground rules for conduct of FEC
•Scores his meeting with German Chancellor Scholz high
•Council observes minute silence for Adamu Fika
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Bola Tinubu has expressed implicit confidence in his Chief of Staff, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.
The President, who spoke yesterday. shortly before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chambers, State House, Abuja, also set the ground rules for the attendance of the meeting.
Tinubu also commented on issues he had observed and had not been comfortable with, including unauthorised persons gaining access into the Council Chambers of the State House.
Tinubu passed the confidence vote on Gbajabiamila few days after some interests, whom the President had identified as those waging a campaign of calumny, insinuated that the Chief of Staff might have fallen out of favour with his principal.
A group had alleged that the Chief of Staff had been involved in appointments’ racketeering, saying he had been “trading off appointments in the government of President Tinubu to the highest bidder.”
The group had cited the recent discrepancies that arose in the process of naming new Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), claiming some names replaced were as a result of some shady plays.
However, responding to the development in a brief speech before the commencement of the weekly FEC meeting, the President expressed confidence in Gbajabiamila, just as he noted that making mistake, referring to the reason why names had to be changed and replaced, was human and he had already notified Nigerians that he was bound to make mistakes, which he would always be bold enough to correct.
He said: “First of all, let me reiterate to all of you the fact that a lot of stories are going around about what is happening. I’ve told everyone in this country that I can make mistakes, they’re bound to air them out and correct them.
“Perfection is that of God almighty. I have absolute confidence on the integrity of my Chief of Staff. All campaigns of calumny and insinuations should stop, the buck stops here.
“If I make mistake I’m ready to own up to it and we’re all joining hands to fight corruption and we want to enforce the law along with you”.
Tinubu, further spoke about issues he observed and had not been comfortable with, including unauthorised persons gaining access into the Council Chambers of the State House.
Addressing Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume and Head of Federal Civil Service, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan, he said, “Last week, I noticed the undue access of people sneaking in and out of this Council. I will announce to you those people who are supposed to be here.
“Again, last week I noticed the undue access of people sneaking in and out of this Council, including, I saw the photograph of my son, Seyi, sitting behind the cubicle there. That is not acceptable.”
The President specifically mentioned his Special Advisers on Policy Coordination, Hadiza Usman; Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga; Principal Private Secretary, Hakeem Muri-Okunola and Private Secretary, Damilotun Aderemi, as those allowed to be part of FEC meeting apart from Ministers.
“Those are people who are granted exception to be here when we’re conducting the business of the nation. Unless I sent for you, don’t come, make it clear. Secretary to the Government and Head of Service, please take note.
“Unless your staff that are included, no one is privileged to have access sitting in this (Council Chambers), except those four that I’ve announced to you”, the President warned.
Also, Tinubu rated the bilateral and business meetings held on Sunday with visiting German government and business officials, led by the Chancellor of the Republic of Germany, Olaf Scholz, very highly.
He expressed gratitude to his ministers for availing themselves at the meeting, charging them to think outside the box to hasten the reforms required to attract investors.
His words: “Yesterday, we had a very good showing and I thank all of you for sparing your Sunday to attend the national event. The visit of the Chancellor of the Republic of Germany was, to me, a success.
“We needed more time, but we were able to cover a lot of ground and must take our reforms seriously; the investors are interested in us. As I said, investors and investment are cowardly; they don’t follow conflicts. Think outside the box, how we can do things better”.
Also, the FEC meeting led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), toasted to President Tinubu’s recent victory at the Supreme Court, lauding his contributions to leadership in the country, particularly highlighting his time as governor of Lagos State.
Meanwhile, the Council observed a minute silence in honour of a former member of FEC and one-time Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Adamu Fika, who died last week at the age of 90.