At the core of the Next Level Agenda that characterized the manifesto
of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term was the policy to lift 100
million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. The thrust of this is
the care of victims of the vast humanitarian crises that Nigeria has
been confronted with.
It goes without saying that there’s no shortage of challenges ahead:
For well over a decade now, Nigeria has been embroiled in a huge
humanitarian emergency occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency,
sectarian crisis, herders and farmers’ clashes, man made and natural
disasters, banditry, erosion due to climate change, poverty,
ignorance, economic inequality, illiteracy, trauma and post-traumatic
The fallout of this is that a refugee crisis of monumental proportions
has occurred. Hundreds of thousands of helpless Nigerians have been
displaced with refugees spattered in Nigeria and all across our porous
borders. These refugees desperately need food, shelter, health care
and humanitarian aid.
To clear these hurdles, this administration is going to need an
organized structure, a policy framework, and the political will to
make an impact. And to accelerate that change, it will need a platform
that can bring all the requisite features together; a platform that
can enact and enforce the necessary policies to address the challenges
and crises that tens of thousands of helpless Nigerians face. It will
need medics, psychologists, sociologists, and researchers and local
leaders, and academics and engineers; programmers, surgeons, and
teaches, among others.
And most important, apart from addressing the disasters and
humanitarian crisis, it will need to equip those that are saved with
the tools to be able to develop on their own. In providing those
tools, the administration will need to empower them with the ability
to learn new skills so they can help themselves, help their
communities and deliver the country to the next generation.
Perhaps this was the vision of the president when he created the
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social
Development. The ministry is designed to proffer resolutions for the
plight of millions of Nigerians who are suffering and are the victims
of the huge humanitarian crisis in the country. There is no doubt that
with the creation of this Ministry, there will be better coordination
of humanitarian services in Nigeria.
Of all the Ministries created, none is as vital as this one, given
that the stratosphere we are presently existing in is one of
monumental crisis. It is the face of compassion for this government
and if it succeeds, history will likely judge this administration as
being a successful one. Such a structure is needed to overcome some of
the challenges we face in our communities, especially for those of us
who have been struck with the misfortune of the disaster that has been
replete in the Nigerian society.
One does not need to recite here the history of poverty, the
humanitarian crisis and the situations of disaster in this country.
But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities
that exist in our local communities today can be directly traced to
inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that continues to
suffer under the brutal legacy of poverty. Hopefully, this specific
ministry can and will rise to such challenges.
It’s no secret that many of us have not been overwhelmed by almost all
the governments in this fourth Republic. It doesn’t take a rocket
scientist to decipher that a chunk of us have been jaded by some of
the decisions and appointments made by these administrations. But I
must say that I am thoroughly excited about the creation of this
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social
Development and President Buhari’s choice of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq
to head it. I am excited because I know her character, her capability
and her will to deliver.
I have known Hajiya Sadiya for a very long time. We have the kind of
unbreakable sisterhood where we love each other very much and share a
trust where we do not keep secrets from one another. And it is from my
intimate knowledge of the kind of person that she is and the intent
that she has in her new role as the minister of Humanitarian Affairs,
Disaster Management, and Social Development that gives me solace and
peace that, in this instance, President Buhari has knocked this one
out of the park.
Not only did the president get it right by creating this much needed
new ministry and merging it with the required components it needs if
it is going to be positioned to leave a lasting legacy, but he also
appointed the perfect person to build and navigate it in the way it
I’ve known this exciting new Minister in a professional, political,
personal and academic capacity and can say unequivocally that she has
all the qualities needed to execute her role as the minister of
Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.
It’s been a minute since I’ve been excited about any government
decision. But I am excited about the possibilities of this one.
For those who still don’t quite appreciate President Buhari’s choice
of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs,
Disaster Management, and Social Development, the case for her is a
powerful one. In her professional, academic and political capacity,
she ticks all the boxes.
It’s an illusion to think that she was just some random politician
that was picked out of the crowd. She was deeply immersed in all the
detail of the 17-year movement that brought her father to power, and
all its intrigues and technicalities. From a political vantage point,
Hajiya Sadiya has gone beyond cutting her political teeth. She is not
just a daughter to the president.
Hajiya Sadiya was always interested in politics and the decision to
navigate towards General Buhari’s political movement was an easy one
for her because she was extremely close friends with some of his
children. Growing up within the same vicinity and appreciating Gen.
Buhari’s qualities, which shone in his daughters, it was easy for
Hajiya Sadiya to navigate towards the movement of this father figure.
Hajiya Sadiya’s extraordinary loyalty, hard work, and composure made
her stand out in Gen. Buhari’s political movement. Bold, honorable,
principled, hardworking, loyal, determined, brilliant, smart, brave
and tireless in her resolve to take on the might of the opposition
party and the cause for change, which Nigerians yearned for, she
inspired a hesitant collective and stood behind the man whose
leadership she could see beyond her close friend’s father and the
father she had known most of her life.
She is very optimistic, the fundamental belief at its core that the
people of Nigeria, for all our varied backgrounds and outward
differences, could come together to build a better tomorrow. She
still believes that. She believes we can work together to do big
things that raise the fortunes of the Nigerian people. She is a decent
and honorable woman, as well as a charming one, and it was these
qualities, not just her loyalty and steadfastness that has taken her
to where she is today.
I am so proud the President Buhari was able to look beyond her in the
capacity of his daughter and seeing a brilliant administrator with the
ability to deliver. By doing this, he has gone out of his way to give
leadership to a person who can respond to the humanitarian crisis in
the country, not only in a professional way but in a manner that
empowers her to execute her role while being unafraid to take issue
with him when the need arises. It is a breath of fresh air for the
President to surround himself with a person who can challenge him and
question his assumptions. And I know that, as his daughter, she will
have the confidence to do so.
Perhaps, one of the most innovative aspects of this new Ministry is
the inclusion of Social Development to its trajectory. It just simply
makes sense! After responding to the humanitarian needs of the victims
and managing the fallout of the disaster, it is necessary to put in
place and equip those affected with the support and tools needed to
develop on their own. Unless this is done, then, in time, the disaster
goes back to square one. With time, it would be as if no humanitarian
need or disaster was managed. For the full completion of the response,
those affected must be empowered after they have been saved.
This realization seems to be a very clear one for the president who
reinforced it in his Independence Day Speech, where he articulated
that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and
Social Development was specifically created to consolidate and build
on the achievements of the Ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention
Program, which targets vulnerable groups, through the Home-grown
School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme,
N-Power Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans,
Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing
With this pronouncement, the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs,
Disaster Management, and Social Development will now directly be
overseeing the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), the
billion Naira social welfare scheme. No longer is this scheme
domiciled in the vice president’s office. It now lives under the
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social
Another important advantage of Social Development being domiciled in
this ministry as opposed to it being under the Vice Presidency is the
need for longevity and legacy. Unless this very important scheme finds
a structured home under a Ministry, there is the risk of it fizzling
out at the expiration of this administration since any subsequent
government will not be under any obligation to inherit any policy of
the vice president’s office. By moving it to the Ministry of
Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development,
President Buhari has effectively protected and saved it.
While establishing this Ministry will be daunting, as a former federal
commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and
Internally Displaced Persons since September 26, 2016, Hajiya Sadiya
is up to the task.
The humanitarian challenges facing this fractured nation seems
endless. Between insecurity, the fallout from disasters poverty,
financial prosperity, even stability feels increasingly out of reach
to many Nigerians: Today, far more people are more pessimistic than
optimistic about life for the next generation of Nigerians. But
somehow, somewhere hope arises in the form of a Ministry formed to
cater to the less privileged. And to top it off, it will be led by an
absolute lady of substance, a daughter to a President who sees her
capability to deliver.
Hajiya Sadiya is well-equipped to mobilize local and international
support for the government’s work in the humanitarian and disaster
management sectors. She is more than capable to coordinate all the
parastatals and agencies under her Ministry to confront the challenges
of displacement, insurgency, banditry, flood, fire, poverty and other
effects of the disaster.
Since Hajiya Sadiya took up the mantle of leadership at the helm of
the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social
Development as the honorable minister, she has hit the ground running.
And this is all despite the challenges faced, some of which include an
extremely delayed mandate, lack of official staff and no office space
or accommodation. Despite everything, she has managed to make it work
through hard work, innovation, tact, and selflessness.
Because I know and trust her, I’m confident that she will not let her
position as the close friend of the children of the President or the
daughter of the President Buhari obstruct or deter her. She sees
herself as a National servant called up to do her civic duty, working
for the Nigerian people. And I know that she will apply herself to the
very best that is humanly possible and, By Allah’s will, have a
successful outing. I often joke to her that no longer can she just
consider President Buhari as a father anymore, now she can truly
consider him as a boss as well. This, she firmly agrees.
Hajiya Sadiya is truly one of a kind. The kind of citizen we desire to
see contribute their quota in moving this country forward. She is
kind, brilliant, pious, thoughtful, smart, funny, charming,
considerate, brave, focused, principled, honest, generous,
God-fearing, witty, honorable, innovative, bold, hard-working and so
much more. I am truly excited to see what she will bring to the table.
Kudos to the president for, not only creating this much-needed
ministry, but for having the foresight of making a choice from one of
his own; from choosing his capable daughter, Hajiya Sadiya Umar
Farouq, to reach out to Nigerians affected by humanitarian crisis and
disaster, in trying to lift as many people out of poverty as possible
and empowering them with social development.
May Allah continue to guide Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq.