With stringent agenda set for his ministers and performance tracking system embedded in the Ministerial Performance Review Retreat, President Muhammadu Buhari, created a method of achieving set goals of his administration
Just as stock taking is an important aspect of business, governments that are committed to delivering on their promises to the electorate must devise ways to embark on self-evaluation and appraisals in order to measure their successes or failures and this exactly is what the Buhari administration has institutionalised with the periodic ministerial retreat organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SSG), Boss Mustapha.
First implemented in August 2019, for ministers–designate, permanent secretaries and other top government functionaries, the recently concluded retreat, has grown to become an avenue to examine the status of government policies, programmes and projects, because from the onset, it was designed to map a trajectory towards the delivery of the administration’s priority agenda.
Buhari, when addressing participants at the recent edition of the retreat held at the State House on Monday, October 17, 2022, said his administration, has used the opportunity provided by the retreat to carry out objective self-assessment of its commitments to the contract signed with the Nigerian people at the inception of this administration in 2019.
“I am glad to note that we have sustained this yearly stock-taking innovative initiatives introduced in 2019 by holding three consecutive Performance Review Retreats in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. This has helped us to clearly identify what we have done, what needs to be done and how best to get it done,” he stated.
Though Buhari was elated about the numerous achievements of his administration as espoused at the retreat, he was emphatic in his charge to all ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of agencies to remain focused in the discharge of their duties, stressing that, “any infraction will be viewed seriously.”
In what shows Buhari’s relentless commitment to assessing his government’s performance and to track the progress of its commitment to deliver the development aspirations encapsulated in the 9 Priority Areas that were adopted at the 2019 retreat, the maiden presidential retreat was followed one year later by the first Year Ministerial Review Retreat,which was held between September 7 and 8, 2020.
The Retreat provided an opportunity for the government to assess its performance and track the progress of its commitment to deliver the development aspirations captured in the 9 Priority Areas that were adopted at the 2019 Retreat.
Again, a 2-day mid-term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat was organised to review the performance of the government and to re-strategise for the second half of Buhari’s second term in office between October 11 and 12 2021 at the State House Conference Centre.
According to the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who has superintended over the series of retreats since inception and ensured that they meet the set goal, the purpose of the mid-term retreat, among others, were to institutionalise the Performance Management System (PMS) as a way to promote the culture of accountability and transparency in the public service.
He said it was also to render progress report on the level of implementation of ministerial mandates along the nine priority areas of the administration, review performance of ministries and identify key impediment(s) to implementation of the ministerial mandates; and re-strategise on how to accelerate delivery of results.
He said over the last three years, ministries had continued to implement the deliverables assigned to them in line with the ministerial mandates, jointly signed by the ministers and permanent secretaries, which serve as a performance bond with President Buhari.
He said: “The purpose of this third year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat is to report on progress made in the implementation of ministerial mandates along the nine priority areas of the administration based on data from the Central Delivery Coordination Unit (CDCU) Performance Management System.
“Other objectives are to analyse and discuss reasons for achievements or non-achievement of performance targets, identify and agree on strategies to improve performance, recognise accomplishment, and encourage ministers to deliver on the legacy projects of Mr. President as the administration winds down.”
This year’s retreat was structured into three main areas. One, an overview of ministerial performance within the last three years of the administration, which presents key achievements and identify opportunities for improvement. The second reflected lessons and good practices from the Kenyan Presidential Delivery Unit, and the third focused on ways to accelerate the delivery of flagship projects and programmes of President Buhari in the days leading to the May 2023 handover date.
Mustapha was particularly elated that the CDCU, which was set in motion as a catalyst for improved performance, has been driving the federal government delivery initiative with resounding success with its performance management system introduced in 2021.
“Sequel to the Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat last year, the CDCU developed Performance Improvement Suggestions (PIS) for all 28 Ministries as well as the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF). The PIS as a major value addition, recommends ways of improving performance, especially for Deliverables that were rated below 50 percent. The PIS enables each ministry develop actionable plans to accelerate the implementation of deliverables towards the achievement of the 2023 targets.
“To address the issue of limited civil service capacity in driving the delivery process, CDCU, has continued to provide technical support for ministries to establish, inaugurate and train their delivery task teams, which are made up of staff of the departments and agencies under the supervision of such ministries, to ensure timely reporting on ministerial deliverables.
“This support aims at deepening the delivery capability of MDAs to complete key legacy policies, projects and programmes of government with a focus on the low-hanging fruits. As at September 2022, a total of 17 ministries, had set up and inaugurated their Delivery Task Teams while others are at advanced stages in preparation to doing so,” Mustapha said.
He also said as part of efforts to ensure the functionality of the performance management system put in place, an application called the Presidential Delivery Tracker (PDT), was launched on August 30, 2022. The co-creation platform that connects citizens to governance in Nigeria by increasing citizens’ access to federal government’s priority projects.
The keynote speaker and immediate past president of Kenya, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, while sharing the Kenyan experience in theirstrive to deliver the promises of development and how he used the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) to achieve his administration’s objectives, acknowledged that nations in Africa share similar challenges in various aspects of nationhood.
He, however, underscored that thosechallenges are even exaspetated by little patience on the part of the citizenry and further compounded by inadequate resources and limited time frame.
According to him, what he offers to African leaders who are faced with challenges such as insecurity, terror, pandemic and other such mitigating-unsolicited setbacks are, “The first, being focused. The ability to be able to focus on what the critical issues are – we cannot deliver on everything, but we can be focused to be able to target our intervention to those areas that most affect our people, the greatest immediate impacts and also, that lays the foundation for a stronger nation, and prosperity tommorow.
“The second, I believe is the realisation of the challenges we face are not challenges that can be completed by any one single administration. So, therefore, ultimately, the issue of continuity and succession planning is also very critical.”
According to him, his Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) embedded in the presidency and which functioned to see that the government delivered on key priority areas was instrumental to many successes recorded by his administration within its first five years of governance.
Urging Nigerians to stick to the developmental agenda of the President Buhari administration by voting a successor that will continue from wherever he stops, Kenyatta stated that, “I heard very keenly, when the secretary to the federal cabinet was speaking, and there is one thing that I will encourage; it is that as this administration winds down, let us not suffer the traditional.
“It is like all African problem, that when one administration winds down the next one thinks whatever was done we can do better. And you start trying to imagine ways of re-inventing the wheel – the wheel can only be invented once. We need to begin to institutionalise these practices, if we ever hope to deliver on our promises.”
He argued that there is no single administration that has the capacity to resolve all the problems African countries face, so each administration should build on the foundation laid by the previous one.
“Therefore, institutionalising and learning lessons and not repeating mistakes is part of our journey to transform this continent, but if we become people, who adopt start-stop policies, as unfortunately many have done in the past, we will never fully achieve the socio-economic agenda that we set for ourselves,” he said.
Also alluding to the tremendious contributions of the peer-review mechanism and self-appraisal system implemented by his government, to objectively assess his government’s commitments to actualising the promises made to Nigerians, Buhari said, “I am glad to note that we have sustained this yearly stock-taking innovative initiatives introduced in 2019 by holding three consecutive performance review retreats in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. This has helped us to clearly identify what we have done, what needs to be done and how best to get it done.”
Buhari told the gathering that going by the assessment report and discussions at the retreat, it is evident that his government made appreciable progress through collective efforts in setting the nation on the path of sustainable development while improving the well-being of our people.
He, however, stressed that, “Notwithstanding these achievements, there are still unfinished businesses that we must speedily complete to ensure we finish well. We must, therefore, endeavour to close every gap in our implementation efforts to ensure the attainment of set targets by 2023.
“This retreat is not the end of our assessment process, as I have directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to continue with the quarterly review process and assessment for the third and fourth quarters of 2022 and the reports will form part of our transition documents.”
While nine priority areas had been identified as focal issues before the end of this administrtaion, Buhari emphatically directed all ministers and permanent secretaries to ensure that the performance reports of their ministries are submitted on a quarterly basis to the office of the SSG for review by the CDCU and the outcome of these reviews would be subject to his consideration.
Underscoring the importance of this review system to achieving government objectives and his readiness to bequeath it to successive administrations after his, Buhari stated that,“The Executive Order 012 on Improving Performance Management, Coordination and Implementation of Presidential Priorities, which I signed a few minutes ago, has institutionalised a culture of accountability, transparency in our pursuit of good governance.”
– Akpenvwe wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers State