Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq
By Ola Adebayo
Part of our stock in trade in this part of the world is gossiping. We are good at it such that when gossip is narrated, it would be hard to controvert.
When the narrator gives or paints the picture of the event or the personality, you would think he was actually present at the event or knows the person in question personally.
That was the situation when rumor mongers went to town that Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouk was in a relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and the relationship was being consummated.
The news became a national item such that it trended for days on social media. Every blog that matters in the country made it the cover.
To make it more interesting and, perhaps, credible, the invite of the so-called wedding was printed…as if that was what was needed to authenticate the veracity of the event. The invite was shared on several social media platforms.
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Meanwhile, the two persons supposedly involved in the ‘marriage’ kept mute, doing their businesses in Aso Rock and at Area 10 Secretariat, respectively.
Baba, as Buhari is fondly addressed, would be the least to comment on such frivolous matter. I am sure Sadique and Sadiya would have been laughing at the ignorant Nigerians while excitedly discussing about issues that intimately concerned them.
It is now established that the criticism against the minister, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouk, at the inception of her appointment, particularly during the early stage of the coronavirus pandemic, was misplaced as it is now obvious that her claim that she distributed palliatives to Nigerians was not only true but also substantiated.
And if not for the #EndSARS protests, leading to some of the protesters opening warehouses in the country where these palliatives were stored, the notion that she lied about the palliatives would have remained.
Rather than get excited that she was vindicated, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouk thinks otherwise, she forgives her traducers for their ignorance.
You can begrudge government for many inadequacies, mistakes and blunders, but the Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development agenda of the Buhari administration is the first of its kind in the history of Nigeria where a ministry is saddled with taking care of the social and humanitarian needs of her people.
The arrangement might not be perfect, just like every new beginning. But the fact that the administration took the courage to set it up, equip it and it is up and running should be commended.
While we may have reservations about how of the ministry works, the beneficiaries of the ministry’s programmes and products, especially the vulnerable amongst us, would not bad mouth the ministry.
One of the schemes under the Social Investment Programme, N-Power, addresses unemployment, particularly among youths. More than 109,000 youths have benefitted from it, leading to some of them being employers of labour.
Over five million entries were received during the third stage of the programme. The advantage this programme has, just like other programmes in the ministry, is that it is helping to reduce the rate of crime in the society.
There is another product called Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme, GEEP. This is mainly to tackle credit facility challenges among young business operators.
GEEP has provided incremental loans of between N10,000 and N300,000 to traders, artisans, enterprising youth, agricultural workers and other micro-service providers, under its flagship programs, TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni, even as it has empowered over two million micro businesses with interest-free loans to grow, making it the largest public microcredit program globally, as well as the most impactful Micro-Credit Programme in Africa as recognised by the African Bankers’ Awards in 2019 held in Equatorial Guinea.
Presently, the programme has been implemented in 34 states and the FCT.
There is the Conditional Cash Transfer programme which is targeted at deficiencies in capacity and lack of investment in human capital of poor and vulnerable households.
It delivers timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiary households to support development objectives and priorities even as it provides monthly Cash Transfers of N5,000 to poor and vulnerable households with the sole aim of graduating them out of poverty.
There are many other impactful programmes of the ministry.
Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouk is by nature a quiet person. But she is among the busiest members of the Buhari administration.
If she isn’t attending to graduates seeking jobs, she is in the rural areas attending to the vulnerable or natural disaster victims.
The least any well-meaning Nigerian can do is to appreciate her efforts.
- Adebayo is an Abuja-based public affairs analyst.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.