Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is quietly changing the narratives on Federal Government humanitarian programmes and changing the stories of many Nigerians from negative to positive.
Muhammad Lawal, who has being observing the changes, reports…
LIKE every dreamer whose dream has become a reality, Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was all smiles recently as she announced to the world that beneficiaries of N-Power programme are not just business owners but employers of labour.
From her first day in office as Minister when the N-Power programme was moved to her Ministry, Umar-Farouq has been working to ensure graduates of the programme do not only become independent and self- employed, she also dreamt of the day majority of them will lift up others in their communities.
From talks, to seminars, workshops and training programmes Umar-Farouq introduced several initiatives including partnership with several giants in Corporate Nigeria to ensure N-Power graduates succeed.
As she marked her one year in office recently, news filtered in that about 109,823 N-Power beneficiaries are now business owners.
The new entrepreneurs, most of them beneficiaries of Batch A and B of N-Power project, have their businesses set up in their communities thereby employing others in their societies who otherwise would have been liabilities to the public.
Umar Farouq described the development as something that gives her innate joy, saying: “statistics like this give me joy and once again, I want to say congratulations and like I said in my good will message, I look forward to hearing amazing testimonials and meeting beneficiaries of this programme who will be doing great things in the future.’’
The minister made it explicit that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development under her leadership is totally committed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years by creating opportunities to enhance the productivity of the Nigerian youth for employment or entrepreneurship and that nothing will derail the vision.
‘’This vision is imperative because youths represent 70 million of the Nigeria population while youth unemployment stands at over 20% with 4.5 million entering the job market annually. The need to find ways to engage them is of utmost importance.’’
N-Power Graduates Testimonials
Many of the graduates have nothing but gratitude to the Federal Government, officials of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the Minister. Angela Mojisola Nabu, a graduate of Agricultural Science from Ladoke Akintola University and an alumnus of the N- Power programme said her dream was to be an Agriculturalist, but she didn’t know how to turn her dream into reality.
“When I learnt of the N-Power I decided to apply and was enrolled into the programme without knowing anyone or being connected to anyone. The selection was clear and free.
I gained practical experience working with the Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme Ilaro Zone (OGADEP). I was able to save some money from the stipends to start my own fish farm. Today I have 12 ponds, I have people working for me and I have trained one IT student and I am willing to train more.’’
Another beneficiary, Saddiq Mustapha from Katsina, said the training and support from the N-power programme has empowered him to start his own multi-media business and employ others.
The graduate of Ahmadu Bello University said he was idle after his National Youth Service Corp. “I registered for the programme and to my utmost surprise or, better put, shock, I was shortlisted and was also admitted into the programme on merit. By virtue of the experience gained and training in video production and editing, I set up a multimedia company and run the largest online media business in Katsina State with thousands of followers.”
N-Power is an equal opportunity programme for all Nigerians irrespective of gender or physical ability.
Since the beginning of Umar-Farouq’s new initiative, many physically challenged Nigerians have benefited. One of them is Plateau born Ali Dapil. Dapil applied to fulfil all righteousness thinking he will be discriminated against as usual, but he was stunned by the response he got.
Said Dapil, “I had gone through a lot of discrimination in the past. However, I applied for N-Teach and was sent to Gindiri Demonstration for my primary assignment. I was also provided a device to aid me.”
They all expressed their gratitude to the Federal Government and Ministry for the opportunity.
Umar Farouq is full of praise for the beneficiaries of the programme, while acknowledging the contributions and efforts of those who started the programme before it was transferred to the Ministry, noting that it is collective team effort that has ensured the success which the programme has recorded so far.
‘’You are our model N-Power beneficiaries. Please avail yourselves of all opportunities provided by government like interest free loans and leverage on those opportunities while using N- Power as a stepping stone,’’ said the Minister.
Success Stories Beyond N-Power
As an achiever who does not blow her trumpet, Umar Farouq has sustained and improved the Government Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme (GEEP) and continued to provide loans of between N10, 000 and N300, 000 to traders, artisans, enterprising youth, agricultural workers and other micro-service providers; under its flagship programmes, TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni.
Under these initiatives, over 2.3 million business owners have been assisted with interest-free loans to take their enterprise to the next level. This initiative is about the largest of its type anywhere in the world.
According to statistics in public domain, beneficiaries include but are not limited to 4,325 agents in all the states in Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory, 2,678 groups in various markets, traders and farmers. In all, about 4,988,926 counted and confirmed applicants got the nod out of a total pool of 9.3 million that registered.
Banks are also beneficiaries as the introduction of GEEP has led to the opening of over 352,000 new bank accounts with 1.95million new mobile wallets.
Also, about N36.3billion have been disbursed to 2.2million beneficiaries. At the peak of Covid 19 lockdown, several households got provision of food stuff like rice, maize millet, sorghum, vegetable oil, tomato paste, milk, sugar and spaghetti.
Sadiya admitted so during the first-anniversary celebration, with the promise to do more. She said:
“This ministry still has a lot of plans targeted at providing more humanitarian aid to vulnerable Nigerians, but these plans are being hampered by scarcity of funds which is a general challenge of every government establishment.
“Within one year, we have provided succour to vulnerable groups and persons of concern, who were affected by disasters, floods, violence, and the Covid-19 lockdown.
“We have also empowered youths and women. I am happy to say that since the creation of the ministry, we have been able to coordinate all humanitarian needs in the country and intervene in the lives of Nigerian citizens. “I also want to place it on record that it would have not been possible without the support from the agencies under the ministry, our local and foreign partners and other concerned NGOs who have passion for service to humanity”.
Umar-Farouq Reactions to Shortcomings
In a country of about 200 million citizens with majority of them having one humanitarian need or the other, some citizens are not pleased with Umar-Farouq and the Ministry.
Instead of positive engagement, some have taken to the social media to attack the Minister and the Ministry. But instead of getting annoyed that some Nigerians do not appreciate what they are doing for the masses, she said she understood and appreciated their right to complain
She said, “I assure Nigerians that the ministry will adopt a
proactive rather than reactive approach to all kinds of humanitarian disasters even as we continue to involve CSOs, NGOs, development partners and the private sector in all our interventions.
“We will also leave our doors open to hear constructive criticisms on our interventions because we are responsible to the people of Nigeria and we believe that there is no system that cannot be improved”.
True Leadership Character
Beyond displaying the true character of a leader who will take credit for success and shortcomings the truth is that there are some things that are beyond her and her
Ministry’s control. For example, most of the ministry’s programmes are implemented through state governments. She has little or no control over what officials of state governments do. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo suffered the same challenges when he was in charge of the Social Investment Programmes (SIP).
Another is that the N-Power programme is planned to last just two years, but beneficiaries want it to last forever.
Despite all these challenges, Umar Farouq is undeterred. Her strength is drawn from the fact that the success she and the ministry have recorded in the last 12 months far outweigh the few dissenting voices.
– Lawal, an engineer, writes from Jos.