President Muhammadu Buhari described the country’s burgeoning population as “frightening.”
He urged ministers-designates to join hands in finding solution to the worrisome trend.
Speaking at the commencement of a two-day retreat for ministers-designate in Abuja, the president said: “By average estimates, our population is close to 200 million today. By 2050, UN (United Nations) estimates show that Nigeria will be third globally, behind only India and China with a projected population of 411 million.
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned of the impending population explosion in the country, saying that Nigeria cannot rely on foreign handouts to deal with the issues.
“This is a frightening prospect but only if we sit idly by and expect handouts from so-called development partners. The solution to our problems lies within us.”
At the session attended by permanent secretaries, the President urged the incoming Federal Executive Council members to reflect on the country’s position, comparing it to where it was in 2015.
He gave a pass mark to his administration.
Buhari said during the first term, his administration identified security of the country, improvement of the economy and anti-corruption fight as three areas for close attention and action.
He added: “None but the most partisan will dispute that we have made headway in all three areas. First, we have rolled back the frontiers of terrorism; we are actively addressing other challenges such as kidnappings, farmer-herder violence, improving the safety of our roads, railways, air traffic and fire control capacities.
“Second, we are steadily turning the economy round through investment in agriculture and manufacturing, shoring up our foreign reserves, curbing inflation and improving the country’s infrastructure.
“Third, we have recovered hundreds of billions of stolen assets and are actively pursuing control measures to tackle leakages in public resources. We will not let up in fighting corruption.’’
According to him, his administration would have laid the ground to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years at the expiration of his eight-year tenure in 2023.
Buhari said: “I congratulate all the new-comers who the country has chosen above others to join the first-term ministers whose performance has been outstanding. All of you are appointed to assist and advise the president in running the affairs of our country.
“At the end of the retreat, it is hoped that all of you will be in tune with the roles and responsibilities of positions you will occupy in government. Many national issues require unified decisions.
“It is a great privilege for you to be called upon to serve in these great offices of the state and you must grasp the chance with two hands and put in your best efforts as Nigeria today needs top managers to handle our numerous challenges.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said the presidential retreat was meant to be in sync with the policy direction of government, and contribute to the attainment of the next level goals.
Mustapha said: “The objective of this retreat is to prepare the new cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure, having been chosen to drive and coordinate the affairs and activities of the various socio-economic and political spheres of our nation.”