Sadiya Umar Farouq

Sa’adiya Farouk is on track, argues Danliti Goga

· Prejudice and vested interest have now emerged as the main factors at play in what can only be described as media harassment of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sa’adiya Farouk. She is arguably the minister with the most arduous schedule of duty that is constantly engaged in devising and delivering relief and bringing hope by creating opportunities where none existed for the most vulnerable people of this country, at their time of need. Even COVID 19 that forced every other public and private institution into abrupt shut down was just another national emergency assignment for this mother of all ministries, already burdened by the unprecedented human, social and economic vulnerabilities plaguing Nigeria today.

· But none of these challenging endeavours which the ministry dutifully undertakes without hesitation under the ever calm but tirelessly focused direction of Sa’adiya Farouk, fittingly backed by the humane passion of a mother and a meritorious career in caring for the thousands of devastated dwellers of Nigeria’s internally-displaced persons’ camps, earns more than a passing mention in the media. Instead, there is a pre-occupation with propagating improbable stories of fraudulent transactions, contrived projects and other budget-busting allegations, lacking any credible substantiation yet arrogantly indifferent to official clarifications and concluding with a demand for probe of the minister.

· The modified school feeding programme is the favourite slaughter slab for her detractors who adamantly persist in pushing deliberate disinformation and vendetta by refusing to correctly report that it is not a continuation of the school feeding programme prior to the COVID-19 outbreak so that they can spin the senseless sleaze about the “scam” of feeding school children with cooked food in their respective homes, deviously deleting the modification repeatedly explained by the ministry.

· They similarly concoct the fallacy of a nation-wide implementation to blanket the fact of initially starting with FCT, Lagos and Ogun States, as pilot cases and then add the fake news of exclusive federal planning and implementation so that Sa’adiya Faruk can be vilified the more, whereas the ministry, in obeying the Presidential directive, went into consultations with state governments through the Governors’ Forum and also that it was agreed the federal government will provide the funding while the states will implement. To ensure transparency the World Food Programme (WFP) joined as technical partners, apart from the EFCC, CCB, ICPC, DSS and some NGOs to monitor the process.

· The mathematics of the costing was also conveniently mutilated based on their deliberate omissions, exaggerations and outright falsehoods. Simply put, each household is assumed to have three children and drawing from the original design of the Home Grown School Feeding programme before it was domiciled in the ministry, every child receives a meal a day at a cost of N70 per child. At 20 school days per month, a child eats food worth N1,400 per month and three children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month, which shows how the cost of the ‘take-home ration’ was computed. A total of 124,589 households impacted between May 14, and July 6 in FCT (29,609), in Lagos (37,589) and in Ogun (60,391), making a grand total expenditure of N523,273,800.

· So plain, yet so muddled up by a vicious onslaught of prejudice and vested interest, unexpected of professional media practitioners. But then, by their antecedents, we know their true motives, especially the Human Rights Writers Association’s (HURIWA) vilification of the noble efforts and remarkable successes of Hajia Sa’adiya Farouk and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to restore sanity and impact in such a critical area of government intervention, under a new structure and in record time. But we are not surprised. For example, HURIWA has even campaigned against the ban on production of the much-abused codeine cough syrups because it has “led to great financial misfortunes for over 30 legitimate pharmaceutical companies.” It even challenged the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, to a public debate to expose alleged widespread corruption in the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) and the school feeding programme!

· Hajia Sa’adiya Umar Farouk has made her mark as a conscientious, hardworking, result-oriented minister in the minds of the vulnerable and displaced victims of human and man-made disasters.

· At another impactful level, she not only salvaged the comatose N-Power program to provide the Nigerian youths with opportunities to gain skills for employability and entrepreneurship by excellently seeing to its repositioning under a brand new mega-ministry she successfully brought to life, she has opened the doors of opportunity for Batch C enrolees hitherto hoping against hope for years. Posterity will definitely speak louder than propaganda!

Danliti Goga wrote from Kano