PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has said that civil servants rubbished the campaign promises of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in their desire to stick to the old ways of doing things.
The president also remarked that the last one year has been a tumultuous time for his government as it struggled to come to terms with administering the country.
According to him, “the permanent secretaries that were there for the past five to seven years, the only thing that they know is how things were done in the previous years.
“Whatever we did in the campaign, in fact, we were saying rubbish and that made it very difficult for us.
“Things were even more difficult during the budget, which you all know about.
“For somebody like me, for the first time, I heard what is called padding.
“I think we will recover by the fourth quarter of the year. What padding means especially for ministers who had to implement what padding contains…there were very serious developments which I never knew about.
“So, really, it was a nasty experience for us. It was also a nasty experience for some of the ministers who were never in government, for them to sit down day and night to work.”
Still talking about the difficulty of the past year, Buhari declared: “It was a tumultuous year for everyone in the villa.
“I will talk about my experience here in Aso Villa.
“I underrated the influence of the PDP for 16 years watching from outside as eight consecutive governments.
“The experience of the staff, their commitment and zeal is different from what it is now. Sixteen years of development in the life of a developing nation is a long time.
“When we came, there were 42 ministries. We cut it to 24.
“We had to do it on our own. We found out that government could not continue with 42 ministers and the paraphernalia of office. So, we cut it down to 24.
“We had to cut down half the number of permanent secretaries and then do some cross postings.”
He praised members of his cabinet for their hard work to prepare the 2016 budget, saying that the effort drained many of them.
He noted: “I saw them some of them literarily lost weight because they were sleeping less and eating less, working on every kobo to be spent.
“Because we became a mono-economy of oil rich Nigeria, everybody relied on oil and forgot about solid minerals, agriculture, making and exploring things.
“We recently just found out that we are poor because we don’t have anything to fall back to.
“This is the condition we found ourselves and this change mantra had to go through hell up till yesterday (May 29).”
He further said: “Most of the permanent secretaries were sent out because it was time for some of them to go and for others, one thing or the other, because we are not part of those 16 years.
“This is where we found ourselves and this is no joke.”