By Folasade Akpan
Abuja – Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the newly sworn-in Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning was received by staff of both ministries with a warm welcome on assumption of office.
The members of staff who came out in a large number patiently awaited her arrival at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday singing “Mummy Welcome” after waylaying her at the gate.
Ahmed was overwhelmed by the staff’s warm welcome and had to alight from her vehicle to meet them and they together walked into the ministry where she addressed them.
The assumption of office address which was originally to take place at the conference room of the ministry had to be taken at the auditorium to create room for the crowd.
Ahmed, who was flanked by her husband, Mr Shamsuna Ahmed said she was overwhelmed by the welcome she got from the staff and promised to deliver on the mandate given to her to improve on the nation’s economy.
She thanked the members of staff for the warm welcome she received, adding that it was unexpected.
“I hope you all realise that the president has just doubled our assignment.
“The president has listened to you and brought me back here so that we can continue the implementation of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives (SRGI) and the other initiatives that we collectively started together.
“The permanent secretary said we got this new assignment because of the quality of work that we had produced, I did not do the work, you did the work.
“The Ministry of Finance has one of the best civil servants that we have today and being merged with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, is also a responsibility that has been given to us.”
According to her, the nation is still facing some fiscal crisis and it is the responsibility of all staff of the ministry to ensure the situation is arrested to avoid slipping into a full blown crisis.
“We have been growing in eight consecutive quarters but it is a growth that is still fragile, revenues have grown but they are still behind on what we have projected.
“So, I want to urge you that the good work you have done in the past should be re-doubled because the task is now double.”
Ahmed said that where there were gaps between the Ministry of Finance and Budget and National Planning, efforts would be made to bridge them, while necessary changes would be made to ensure smooth delivery of plans.
Mr Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, said Ahmed’s re-appointment was a testimony to her track record, adding that she had been given an enormous responsibility.
He assured her that the staff of the ministry would work with her and be loyal in the discharge of their duties to ensure that she succeeds in her given assignment.
Mr Mohammed Dikwa, Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, said the expectation for the minister was to redouble her efforts in ensuring that revenue was generated for the nation.
“Expectation is higher now than before and we must be equal to the task by ensuring prudency and accountability in managing government resources and providing the necessary services to the nation.”
Comrade Ade Olaniyi, the Chairman, Joint Union, Ministry of Finance, while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said he and the entire union were glad that Ahmed was returned as minister and were gathered to welcome her back home.
“We are so happy that they brought her back, you can see it in the faces of the entire staff. Hers is one of the administrations that the president has had less complain about the Ministry of Finance.
“She is very hardworking, tolerant and accommodating and she appreciates all staff and does not look down on anybody.”
According to him, it is expected that the nation will move to the next level with her at the helm of the ministry.
Comrade Okey Efe, Union Chairman, Budget Office of the Federation, said merging the two ministries was a welcome development as it would ensure more focus in piloting of the nation’s financial affairs.
“We will have more focus and we will have to do more work.
“My expectation is that though the country is coming out of recession, our coming together will move the nation forward and we achieve more.”
NAN reports that Ahmed, an indigene of Kaduna State, was born in 1960 and appointed Minister of State, Budget and National Planning in 2015 and upon the resignation of Kemi Adeosun as Minister of Finance in 2018, was appointed to fill her position.
Ahmed obtained her secondary school education at Queen Amina College, Kaduna and acquired her first degree in Accounting from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria in 1981.
She proceeded to Ogun State University where she obtained her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2004.