Women around the world today are assuming leadership positions and excelling because of the enabling environment and support given to them.

In Africa, there have been calls that women should be given a chance to lead as it will help address the prevalent inequality and empower women to contribute more to advancing the society.

Recent events where many Nigerian women are playing critical leadership roles globally on merit have shown that if given the opportunity and support, women can thrive.

Nigeria is a typical patriarchal society. Women are hardly given the opportunity or supported to assume leadership positions. Even when they do, they are often maligned and bullied. Since we began our political process, not a single woman has been found competent and elected the chief executive of a state.

The under-representation of women in political participation gained grounds  due to the deep-rooted cultural practices inherent in our society, which has existed from the pre-colonial era to date.

Several studies have shown that there are some primary attributes of women which are essential in leadership. These are what Nigeria as a country loses as we have refused to give our women ample opportunity to thrive and contribute their quota to national development. It has also been said that women handle crises better than men. One may argue that childbearing makes them compassionate and patient as it requires patience to carry a pregnancy for nine months and compassion to nuture children.

Other studies and experiences have also shown that women are great leaders because they bring unique perspectives from different emotional, cultural, and structural dimensions to drive effective solutions to society’s challenges. They are better than men in balancing professional and personal leadership skills. They exhibit high emotional intelligence, often flexible and lead by example – essential qualities needed in today’s Nigeria. They listen well, and dealing with children probably makes them better communicators and better at nurturing people than the menfolk.

These reasons were perhaps at the back of President Muhammadu Buhari’s mind when he appointed Sadiya Umar Farouq as Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and later Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. By age, she is the youngest minister in the current administration and her performance as Federal Commissioner from 2016 to 2019 many believe,  is what prompted her elevation to Minister in 2019.

As alluded to earlier, many Nigerian women if elected or nominated for leadership positions often get bullied by detractors through unfounded and baseless rumors and allegations. Many would stop at nothing to intimidate or derail the achievements of the woman in question and go all out to dent her reputation and good works. This is unequivocally the scenario playing out over the allegations on the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Some of the allegations include accusations that the Minister has been diverting social investment programmes meant for the entire country to Bauchi State. This was engineered because her husband is the All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial flag-bearer for in Bauchi State; despite being an indigene of Zamfara State. She has also been accused of abandoning her office and relocating to Bauchi to push the political interest of her husband.

These accusations obviously have political undertones, peddled to blight her career and her husband’s aspiration. Her husband, former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique (rtd), had a stellar military career, becoming Chief of Air Staff. Apparently wanting to transfer his wealth of experience, having retired towards the upliftment of the people of Bauchi, all manner of distractions are being peddled against himself and particularly his wife.

Like the strong woman that she is however, Sadiya Umar Farouq has since debunked such allegations, insisting that she will not be deterred by “belly-aching detractors” who will stop at nothing to derail her achievements in office and by extension, the lofty Social Investment Programmes of the President Buhari-led administration whose declared agenda is to lift 100 million vulnerable Nigerians out of poverty by 2030.

With Sadiy Umar Farouq at the helm of affairs since the creation of the Ministry in August 2019, it is on record that at least 20 million Nigerians have so far been empowered through various Social Investment programmes and initiatives of the Ministry. It is also on record that under the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, a total of 9.9 million children from primary 1 to 3 in 53,000 public schools nationwide are currently being fed one hot nutritious meal every school day.

Now, on the allegation that she diverted social programmes meant for the entire country to Bauchi State, under the National Home Grown School feeding programme, Bauchi state ranks 4th highest in terms of benefitting number of primary schools behind Kano, Benue and Kaduna states. In addition, Kano state has the highest number of children being fed, followed by Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Jigawa and Benue before Bauchi.

In the area of youth empowerment and upliftment, the Ministry has been able to upskill about 1,064,774 youths in the graduate and non graduate programmes under the N-Power scheme of which the number of beneficiaries in Bauchi state ranked 11th out the 36 states and the FCT. The highest number of beneficiaries are from Benue, Delta, Enugu, FCT, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Osun, Oyo and Rivers states before Bauchi.

In early July this year, the Minister flagged off the Cash Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Oshogbo, Osun state. Why didn’t she start the distribution of Cash to Vulnerable Groups in Bauchi State if she is supposedly “diverting funds” to the state in helping her husband’s political ambition as alleged? So far she has consistently remained focused and committed to the President’s vision of empowering Nigerians by rolling out one programme after the other to ensure inclusivity for the Nigerian Poor and Vulnerable.

It is obvious that those peddling falsehood, unfounded allegations and rumors are either terrified or intimidated by the envious profile and giant strides of the Minister, whose primary focus is to deliver on her mandate in the Ministry. By virtue of her marriage to an indigene of Bauchi state, the full rights of any Bauchi woman have been bestowed on her.

At no time has she ever abandoned her responsibilities as Minister to relocate to Bauchi. On the contrary, it is a well known fact that she has been working assiduously to ensure that no vulnerable Nigerian is left to go hungry.

Article written by Abdulrahaman Zubairu, Kanta Road, Kaduna

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