By Philip Agbese
Before now, I found the ancient English aphorism “what a man can do, a woman can do better” a bit distractive because I considered it a demeaning psychological assault on the masculinity of men. But I am forced to embrace the wisdom in this wit, after I keenly watched the operations of the Minister, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq over time in that capacity. Obviously, she is the youngest Minister in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet in the second term of the administration. But I am pleasantly shocked that Minister Sadiya is proving every day that age is merely a number. Her performance in the very complex and engaging ministry has outclassed many other appointees under the Buhari Presidency.
Anyone can choose to not recognize this great woman of substance and a future candidate for even bigger appointments going by her credible performance. I know perfectly that once some people have a fixated mindset to paint you in black, there you can do to excite them. Rather, they strive to adorn and defame you unjustifiably with satanic colours.
But Minister Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq has disarmed me by her performance. And it is not only me who is so impressed. At least, I know genuine critics can also attest for her excellent performance. I am not referring to hired ones, whose only niggle is the contracted hatchet job and the money which greases the palms.
Certainly, I know in Nigeria, my country where more people tilt towards darkness, than light, getting a new government ministry start-off ground is a superhuman task. But Minister Sadiya responded to the challenge sharply, in spite of a meagre operational budget. She recognized that the mandate of the ministry deserves very attention of whoever heads it.
Today, Nigeria has a functional Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to wipe our tears at the hopeless situations, we often find ourselves. She a woman virtuous woman of a puritan mould and I feel she deserves our collective eulogies.
She has demonstrated enough wisdom, tact and sufficient dexterity in handling the complex humanitarian issues which defines the core mandate of the ministry. Sadiya is agile, vibrant, fearless and principled. I don’t know her personally, but I can glean this from her numerous outings.
The Minister is a huge asset not only to the Buhari Presidency, but to distressed Nigerians. A periscopic glance at her performance in the last one month alone reveals the leadership substance embedded in her quiet personality.
The Northeast, where Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists rage at innocent Nigerians has become her permanent home, where she constantly visits and renders humanitarian succour to a tormented citizenry. She has deemed the Northeast enclave a personal project in all ramifications.
Only in the last week of June 2020 for instance, Minister Sadiya, representing Mr. President, led other top government dignitaries to Maiduguri where she cut the tape to commission 120 operational vehicles, and medical supplies donated to the military/other security agencies and tertiary institutions by the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to boost counter-insurgency operations in the region. The message she delivered at the occasion on the need for peace was not only captivating, but solemn in every sense.
She echoed that the Northeast region deserve peace and stability, and it is only realizable through collaborative efforts and synergy among all stakeholders. This is what we have been preaching all the times. I wish people of the region should listen to her. It implies that Minister Sadiya is not only a humanist, but a peace evangelist.
An elated Borno state Gov. Babagana Zulum could not conceal his feelings, but exclaimed to Sadiya; “We are indeed grateful your ministry for what it is doing for the Boko Haram ravaged people of Borno State.”
A few days earlier in the same month, Minister Sadiya inaugurated the Federal Government National Steering Committee for the restructured Multi-sectoral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP) designated for Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
MCRP is the foundation for the effective implementation of the Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project (PROLAC), sponsored by the World Bank at a whopping sum of $200 million dollars to support the recovery of the Northeast region devastated by Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
She revealed “The Initial 200 Million-dollar project, which began on February 16, 2018, MCRP has achieved significant progress as evidenced by the midterm report of the World Bank in November 2019. And it is on the trajectory to achieve its Project Development Objectives (PDO) and results despite, a 10-month delay from Board Approval to Effectiveness.’’ She is also chairing the committee, an indication that it has not only taken off now under assured leadership, but has promisingly moved to the #NextLevel.
A workaholic to the core, Minister Sadiya was again on the delegation of the Federal Government of Nigeria led by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno(rtd) to commiserate with Gov. Zulum and the people of Borno over the unfortunate incident of Boko Haram attacks on some communities which resulted into scores of deaths. Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq also performed her passionate responsibility by providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced survivors as first point of consolation.
And in the same month, Sadiya featured prominently at the groundbreaking ceremony of the 10, 000 units of housing project for IDPs in Ngom, Mafa LGA of Borno state. It is one of Mr. President’s special intervention projects under the North East Development Commission (NEDC) led by the commission’s Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Alkali.
And in her unchangeable passion for equity, fairness and innate motherly affection, Minister Sadiya canvassed that that 1000 housing units would be built in Ngom, while the rest 9000 would be distributed across other nine other LGAs in the state.
Back to Abuja, the Honourable Minister has refocused attention on N-Power jobs Batch “C”. The programme has successfully entered stage “C”. The online process of registration of fresh beneficiaries also commenced within the last one month.
For her initiative to propel the N-Power jobs to the #NextLevel after terminating the overdue Batches “A” and “B” confirms her flair for fairness and equity. She has not abandoned them either. Minister Sadiya is also talking to entrepreneurs in the private sector to engage the productive ones under a special pact. But since the Minister assumed office, beneficiaries of the programme have attested to prompt payments of entitlements, since the scheme was moved to the Ministry.
Minister Sadiya is everything workaholic and compassion. She is leaving no stone unturned to put smiles on the faces of less privileged Nigerians. And these days, I hear pleasant echoes from Nigerian masses who have nicknamed her as the minister of Nigerian masses.
Agbese is a publisher and researcher in human rights law.