By Philip Agbese
Unmistakably, President Muhammadu Buhari has an unquenchable obsession with the plight of the poor and vulnerable Nigerians. A pivotal aspect of his leadership of the nation is to ensure, platforms are erected for less privileged Nigerians to also have access to the nation’s commonwealth, and relish economic empowerment or be assisted through government support schemes to live meaningful lives.
It is evident in the policies and actions of his administration, which have become more pronounced especially in this journey to the #NextLevel. The pursuit of this agenda led to creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDS), immediately he was re-elected and inaugurated into office for a second tenure.
And anytime, President Buhari puts his heart to a project, he guns for the best hands to entrust with the work. Therefore, Mr. President appointed an experienced administrative amazon, a compassionate woman, an exact replica of Mother Theresa, an amiable mother and astute manager of human beings and resources, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq to oversee the affairs of the multi-tasked new ministry.
Since Sadiya Farouq took over the dais, together with her team in the ministry, ably supported by the President, they have given a special touch and a new face to the management of humanitarian affairs in the country. Nigeria is a country with multiple humanitarian challenges, from natural disasters to man-made problems. The issues are a dozen, which every day and every hour requires the attention of government to alleviate the hardships or bring succour to distressed Nigerians.
However, it is amazing that though Minister Sadiya Farouq met piles of problems when she assumed office; but she effectively combined the setting up of the structures of a new office as well as responding to both old and fresh humanitarian challenges assailing Nigeria. FMHDS merely clocked a year of operations August 2020.
But regardless of the short time of its existence, and the encumbrances, a peek into the scoresheet of the ministry, pricks anyone very strongly that Hajiya Sadiya Farouq is a special and unique personage in the #NextLevel cabinet of President Buhari. She is factually a blessing to the country and the people.
Nigerians are reaping bountifully from the Minister’s hard work, commitment, straightforwardness and impartial treatment of all Nigerians without succumbing to the temptation of greasing the nation’s faultlines in the patriotic discharge of this national assignment. She works round the clock and personally visits scenes of disasters with her team of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at any instance of disaster to berth succour to distressed people.
FMHDS is unarguably, one of the largest federal ministries, with several agencies under its supervision, but the Honourable Minister has proved herself impressively as an administrator who is equal to the task. To her, it is treading on a familiar terrain, and she does not dread any obstacle, but scores the goals neatly in accordance with her targets.
Whether it is in implementing the functions of NEMA in quick responses to natural or artificial disasters or partnering with the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to wipe away the tears of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in insurgency-ravaged communities, the workaholic Sadiya Farouq has lived her covenant with the masses of Nigeria.
Most notably, as a focal member of the Presidential Task Force on Covid -19 pandemic, Minister Sadiya excellently coordinated Governments responses to the people over the pandemic. She performed this duty in strict adherence to Presidential directives to the Ministry for interventions in providing palliatives to the poor and vulnerable groups throughout the country.
The distribution of the multiple packages of Covid-19 palliatives during the lockdown to the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, seemed an arduous task, but the Minister conquered the sabotaging demons who plotted to frustrate it and met the expectations of Mr. President in this sensitive assignment.
Each state of the federation got its exact share of the palliatives, without distortions and timely. The minister personally visited most states of the federation and supervised the humanitarian interventions and distributions of assorted palliatives packages to the most vulnerable in the society such as refugees, IDP’s, People Living with Disabilities, Older Persons, Trafficked Persons, Orphans, the poorest of the poor and the petty traders amongst others.
Sadiya Farouq has improved and added value to all the schemes domiciled in the Ministry. She has been able to graduate and discharge Batches A & B of the N-Power programme and has kick-started the Batch C of the scheme. And nearly 110, 000 beneficiaries of the dispatched N-Power jobs beneficiaries have established personal businesses.
And through the thoughtful initiatives of the Honourable Minister, thousands of the N-Power beneficiaries have been engaged as aggregators for the Home- Grown School Feeding Programme. Under her supervision, N-Power program is meeting its mandate of net reduction in youth unemployment figures and she has put modalities in place to sustain it to greater impacts.
A foresighted administrator, Sadiya Farouq has birthed the Civil Security Coordination Framework (CSCF) and in progression, also created the National Humanitarian Coordination Forum (NHCF), Humanitarian Policy Dialogue to create a seamless plank for the operations and conduct of all humanitarian interventions across the country by the ministry.
By her progressive initiatives too, the Minister is at the last stages of establishing the National Disability Commission (NDC) and the National Senior Citizens Center (NSCC) to entrench holistic means and channels of flow of Government humanitarian interventions to the targeted groups devoid of hitches. Only a gifted leader would think of durable and permanent structures in the execution of her assignment as exemplified by the Minister.
The FMHDS’s torchlight on one of the Social Investment Programme planks; the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme (GEEP) designed to intervene over the challenges of credit and financial inclusion for the over 37 million Nigerians has been most outstanding. It has greatly assisted countless Nigerians from the economic meltdown in the era of Covid-19 epidemic.
It has empowered over 2.3 million such micro-enterprises with interest-free loans to grow their businesses and climbed the ladder as the largest global public microcredit scheme and recognized by African Bankers with the award of the “Most Impactful Micro Credit Programmme in the whole of Africa. Owners of small businesses are loudly attesting to the Minister’s patriotic service to the nation.
And the Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) has become the biggest fish in the pond under the direction of Sadiya Farouq in expansion and enrolment figures. She has not only brought states like Zamfara and Abia previously excluded in the scheme on board; but has also upped the enrolment capacity and number of the Poor and Vulnerable Households to incredible figures of millions of direct beneficiaries.
Presently, Minister Sadiya Farouq is disbursing Cash grant to rural women in Kwara and other states. It is a programme with the window of one-off grant to vulnerable women in rural communities and the expansive framework is projected to cover 150,000 poor rural women across the 36 states of the federation including the FCT. It is an unexpected relief to these less privileged Nigerian women at their doorsteps.
And Sadiya Farouq is the force and the shadows, propelling the marvelous rebuilding and development projects aggressively being executed by the North East Development Commission (NEDC) under the Rapid Response Intervention (RRI) plan, an integral master plan by President Buhari to rebuild the region, which is ravaged by insurgency.
With Boko Haram terrorists reduced to size in the Northeast region by the Nigerian Military and restoration of peace and security, the whole region has become a huge constructions site. About 224 developmental projects spread across 112 Local government areas across the six states of Northeast are currently ongoing; while others have been completed in the areas of education, health, social infrastructures, integrated agricultural programmes and WASH.
Through this clear-cut FMHDS’s partnership with NEDC, its Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Alkali, another tireless and focused administrator is providing steady back-up support to the Minister to bring solace to the troubled and traumatized peoples of the region who have suffered years of destructions to personal and public properties by rampaging terrorists campaigners. Currently, NEDC has voted N6 billion and dispensing same as annual grants on scholarship for students in the region.
So, tshose only interested in concocting falsehoods against President Buhari or who embark on the campaigns of calumny when they fail to frustrate his laudable programmes targeted at the poor of the poorest and vulnerable groups cannot blight reality. The beneficiaries drawn indiscriminately for the empowerment schemes and relief programmes express appreciations to President Buhari and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs at the slightest opportunity.
The haters can continue to chant meaningless songs; but Minister Sadiya Farouq and her able team of subordinates at in NEDC, NEMA and other agencies under the ministry have redefined the face of humanitarian interventions and disasters management in Nigeria irrefutably.
Agbese is a human rights activist and wrote from Abuja.