Aptly named, the programme is a melange of a series of multiple engagements that seek to uplift Nigerians from their decrepit level of poverty.
Whereas there has been programmes sponsored by past wives of Presidents in Nigeria, there are quite a number of unique attributes of Future Assured which situates Aisha Muhammadu Buhari in a pride of place hinged on pure empathy. Apart from the provision of free medical screening, to addressing challenges in the area of reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health, the First Lady also focuses on issues related to education and empowerment.
With an impressive list of activities which takes the First Lady and her team of volunteers to remote parts of Nigeria, many lives are being touched. Her advocacy and support knows no bounds as she’s in the vanguard of counselling and advocacy for women that have suffered gender-based violence including battery and rape – she has also been an advocate against rape of minors. She recently launched a campaign “Leave our daughters alone” which reverberated around the country. For funding, the First Lady relies on some donor agencies that have decided to partner with her, having had a buy-in for her Future Assured programme. Mind you, donor agencies or partners do not rush in like fools just to support any programme. A programme of this type would have to, first, demonstrate a genuine commitment to loftiness of ideals and purpose, before donors can buy into it. That a First Lady is in charge does not, in the long term, guarantee regular financial and material assistance.
For Dame Buhari, her Future Assured programme has passed litmus and that explains why she has a plethora of volunteers willing and ready at all times to follow her into remote areas to help.
Take, for instance, the Get Involved, which was launched as an initiative of Future Assured, to generate funds for the improvement of the nutritional status of malnourished children across the country, especially those in IDP camps. Over N200 million worth of goods was raised and distributed across the country.
Then there is the Health screening exercises, conducted for women to encourage them to be health conscious, highlighting diseases that kill women and putting them in focus (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and kidney function). They also go through eye checks and are presented with glasses free of charge if required and provide family planning counsel. Over thirty thousand women have so far been reached in the 10 states so far covered. Nutritional supplements are supplied to lactating mothers across the country, with over 250,000 women already benefitting. Children are also checked for worms, oral hygiene and eye problems. Children go home with dental packs after the screening, as well as nutritional supplements supplied to malnourished children across the country – over 100 tons of these supplements have been distributed.
In the same vein, nutrition-based food items have been distributed to the needy in all the states of the country to cushion the effect of poverty and improve nutritional status where hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have been reached. Two fully equipped mobile clinics are in use in remote outreach assignments. Indeed, when the First Lady’s team goes out for interventions, prospecting and planning for at least 2000 women, the husbands of the latter also turn up and insist on being beneficiaries too. There are teams of medical doctors, nurses, midwives, lab technicians and a whole lot of other ancillary professionals in their tens who are volunteers and who participate in every outreach programme.
In the area of infrastructure, her Future Assured programme has constructed a fully equipped maternity complex at the Daura General Hospital, Katsina State, with a view to expanding the network of maternity services accessible to women across the country. Many boreholes have been constructed in communities with water problems and even IDP camps.
In the area of empowerment, skills/entrepreneurship training has taken place in many states. These include paint making, leatherwork, bead making, cosmetics, perfumery, fashion design, barbing and saloon, etc. She recently acquired 40 rice milling machines and 45 fish driers for the use of women farmers across the country at no cost to them. The first batch of 500 youths have just concluded training in paint making, leatherwork, barbing/pedicure/manicure as well as fish and rabbit farming in Kano, in line with her focus on youth. Many families have also been supported with grinding mills, sewing machines, rickshaws and spaghetti makers.
She has provided scholarships to indigent primary school students to support their education. Efforts are underway to rebuild broken down community learning centers and scale up on their spread nationwide, so that women who did not complete their education can return for completion through these centers.
Then, there is the Youth Education Empowerment Programme (YEEP), which assists the large number of youths struggling to transit from secondary to tertiary institutions through tutorial classes, for WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and JAMB. The pilot programme has already proved successful, and scale up is being discussed with stakeholders. YEEP also trains youths to develop writing, communication and public speaking skills.
There is also support to IDPs that return to their communities with relief materials including foodstuff, clothing, beddings, plastic containers, mats, blankets, and building materials. Over six trailer loads of roofing zinc, roofing and noggin wood, assorted nails and asbestos ceiling were distributed.
The First Lady of Niger Republic and Dame Buhari introduced a project to rally first Ladies of West African states to adopt a strategy that allows them to provide adequate social and economic support to refugee women and children in the Lake Chad Basin. Technical meetings are ongoing and the project was unveiled at UNGA in 2017.
Parents of Buni Yadi Boys and Chibok girls were supported with 55 million naira being total proceeds of launch of her book “Essentials of Beauty Therapy”.
She has commenced construction of an orphanage and school primarily for the children in the IDP camps