September 8, 2023

Humanitarian assistance’ll not be business as usual – Minister Edu

Humanitarian assistance’ll not be business as usual – Minister Edu

By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, has said that the ongoing humanitarian assistance across vulnerable groups in the country will no longer be business as usual, as the federal government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is poised to end duplication of efforts and bring about durable solutions to poorest of the poor in the society.

To this end, the Minister said the federal government is set to cover fifteen million households under its upscaled social safety net project, aimed at teaching them how to fish and not to hand them fish to eat.

Edu disclosed this during an official visit to Maiduguri on Thursday where she visited Muna Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, Bulumkutu Rehabilitation Centre, Shehu of Borno’s palace, Government House Maiduguri among other places, and interface with people affected by the over decade Boko Haram crisis, including repentant Boko Haram members and their wives, as well as some rescued Chibok school girls and their children.

She said the social safety net fund to be provided “is not a giveaway money as usual.

“We’ll begin an expanded upscale social safety net program which will be reaching out to at least 15 million households in Nigeria.

“We are putting conditions to it, these are funds to start up businesses, these are funds that put you back on track, so it is not government giveaways as usual, she said.

Edu warned that, “any money given by the government to anybody, there must be criteria attached to it and you will be held accountable for what you use government money to do”.

She noted that her ministry would work with the Borno State government on the expansion of the social register to accommodate more persons.

“Presently we have 15.7 million households on the social register and we have about 62 million individuals on the social register. But, this is completely inadequate compared to the number of persons that require intervention by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation” she said.

She explained that the register would be updated through immediate verification of people on the register to know whether they deserve it or not.

Continuing Edu said, “Because, it’s not a permanent register but a dynamic one. There are people coming in and people going out, so whoever left should leave the register. And, if you are coming in we should truly know that you deserve to be part of the register by the criteria,” she said.

The minister assured that if the verification happens within the next one month, the expanded upscale social safety net program would commence immediately.

She noted that the goal of President Tinubu’s administration is to ensure they resettle back persons who have been internally displaced, and refugees that have been coming in from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and other persons of concern.

“So, it’s not just about resettling them, or offering them humanitarian services or responding when we have a humanitarian crisis.

“The issue is, how can we prevent these humanitarian crises from happening? How we can work with the security agencies, how can we work with the communities to prevent this crisis from happening?

“Beyond this, we want to be able to provide a more resilient system that is reliable and the interventions are sustainable, so it is not about going to offer a cup or bag of rice, No,” she said.

Speaking during a courtesy visit paid to him by the minister, Governor Babagana Umara Zulum assured the state government’s commitment to partner with the ministry for the repatriation of refugees from neighboring countries of Cameroun, Niger and Chad.

While at the Shehu of Borno’s palace, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Elkanemi, the Royal father promised to mobilize all his traditional rulers and title holders under his emirate and the state at large to join the mission implementation of the ministry, pointing out that, there is no how any such policy or projects would be successfully implemented without the support of the traditional council who are the custodians of the people in the society as community leaders.

He prayed for her and the ministry as well as the federal government for a successful and peaceful governance and services to the people especially the poor and the less privileged in society.

The minister while at the Bulumkutu Rehabilitation Centre, which hosted quite a number of repentant Boko Haram members including some rescued Chibok school girls, Edu interacted freely with the victims and shared food and non-food items to cushion their economic hardship.