It was a high moment for Nigeria. It was a major turning point since the amalgamation of 1914. It marked Nigeria’s exit from colonial, imperial rule. It was the birth of a new, independent nation.
This 60th Independence Day, provides Nigerians with an opportunity to reflect on the journey as a nation, our achievements and struggles.
Government has for the first time, committed to the wellbeing and welfare of Nigerians by creating the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
It was in view of the prevailing humanitarian situation and social challenges in the country, that Mr President, in his wisdom deemed it fit to create a Ministry that would institutionalise all government efforts, towards social inclusion and response to disasters and humanitarian crisis, while providing the much-needed coordination of Humanitarian interventions.
To this end, the ministry is mandated to develop humanitarian policies and provide effective coordination of National and International humanitarian interventions; while ensuring strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness and response.
The ministry is also charged with the responsibility, of managing the formulation and implementation of fair focused social inclusion and protection programmes in Nigeria.
The Minister, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq at a grand finale to mark its first year anniversary and the ministry achievements, said it is exactly one year that this ministry came into being through a pronouncement by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.
A number of agencies were brought under the supervision of the ministry they include NCFRMI, NEMA, NAPTIP, NEDC, SDG and N-SIP. The ministry is leveraging on the experience and capacity of these agencies in carrying certain functions, while providing leadership and coordination.
Farouq said, “So far for the one year we have been in existence, I would say it has been an eventful, challenging and rewarding journey. Challenging in the sense that the ministry is saddled with the responsibility of overseeing responsibilities that were hitherto domiciled in other MDAs, and also providing the much-needed coordination of humanitarian interventions in Nigeria.
“It is rewarding in the sense that, when we visit the field and see beneficiaries whose lives are being changed by the federal government humanitarian interventions, it leaves us with a sense of fulfilment that we are doing something worthwhile for humanity.
The Ministry is facing the prevailing situation in the country head long through the vision, mission and core values of the ministry, by promoting human dignity and integration of basic humane benevolence and compassion in the treatment of all Nigerians.
The question that comes to mind is, are we there yet as an independent nation to cater for the wellbeing of its citizens?
This past one year has been a happy and successful year in so many ways. It has been defined by a kaleidoscope of teething problems, happy memories, valuable friendships, modest but impactful achievements, and enduring relationships.
Of course, there have also been some paths that may have been slightly more difficult to travel. Yet despite the odd stumbling blocks along the way, we have travelled through our first year as a ministry – together, supportive of one another, resilient and growing with the realisation that the journey is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Our Ministry started with the incorporation of core human values, such as trust, integrity, and teamwork. In realisation of the fact that the human resource of any organisation, is the most valuable asset it has.
In spite of seemingly daunting and often demanding situations, the ministry and its agencies have provided humanitarian interventions and proactively developed structures to prevent and mitigate disaster. All, while building socio-economic resilience through the evolution of inclusive social safety net programmes.
We say, social inclusion is the process of improving the terms in which individuals and groups take part in society improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity. so what has the government done in regards to social inclusion?
In every country, certain groups confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in their nation’s political, economic, and social life. These groups may be excluded not only through legal systems, land and labour markets, but also through attitudes, beliefs, or perceptions. Disadvantage is often based on social identity, which may be derived from gender, age, location, occupation, race, ethnicity, religion, citizenship status, disability, and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), among other factors.
Exclusion can rob individuals of dignity, security, and the opportunity to lead a better life.
The federal government also reiterates absolute commitment, to protecting rights of disadvantaged people, especially their inclusion in governance and social development.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, during a press briefing to mark the International Day of Sign Languages and International Week of the Deaf, made a pledge and assured that the ministry will continue to work with the disadvantaged and all persons with disability, to ensure their rights, inclusion and participation in the society are given utmost priority, even as she enjoined Nigerians to learn sign languages; “in order for communication with our deaf relatives to be made easie,” she stated.
She also added that as a government, “We will continue to work with the disadvantaged and all persons with disabilities, to ensure their rights, inclusion and participation in the society are given utmost priority.
“It is in realisation of this that we have been in the forefront, to ensure the Nigeria Disability Commission is established and functions to assuage the yearning and aspirations of all persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
“Let me assure you all once again, the federal government through the ministry will leave no stone unturned, to ensure that all persons with disabilities in Nigeria are carried along in governance by removing all barriers that hitherto, poses hindrance for effective functioning of persons with disabilities.”
Specifically, the ministry has also held the first ever Civil Security Cooperation Workshop (CISEC) which birthed the Civil Security Coordination Framework and other structures, that will guide the humanitarian activities in the country.
One of the structures that came out of the now established humanitarian action framework and guidelines, is the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee which was inaugurated by Mr President on the 19th of March, 2020, to ensure the smooth conduct of all humanitarian activities in the country.
Other structures include the Humanitarian Policy Dialogue Forum, which was established to provide a forum in which the ministry will interact with all CSO’s and NGOs, to provide room to interact and review all government policies and humanitarian activities.
The ministry is also working on a Humanitarian Assistance help desk, to provide a feedback/complaint mechanism, for humanitarian actors to report and resolve challenges that impede humanitarian activities in Nigeria.
The helpdesk is a critical tool for the Nigerian government to ensure people who need humanitarian assistance receive it. And the assistance is provided in line with international standards and the laws of Nigeria.
Furthermore, the already existing social investment programmes that were moved to the ministry successfully continued.
The N- Power programme has impacted significantly on the lives of Nigerians, by addressing unemployment and improving the livelihood of a critical mass of young unemployed Nigerians. As at the last count about 109,823 beneficiaries from Batch A & B have gone on to set up businesses in their communities, underlining and highlighting the impact and importance of the N-Power programme.
We have successfully exited the 500,000 Batch A and B beneficiaries and closed registration for Batch C with a total of 5,042,001 registrations received. As we move to the selection stage the ministry will ensure due diligence will be applied to ensure that only duly qualified applicants are enrolled.
We are gratified to note that through N-POWER, the ministry has achieved a net lowering of the youth unemployment figures, despite population growth which is still striving to achieve even more.
The Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme (GEEP) under the SIP, is aimed at addressing the challenges of credit and financial inclusion for the over 37 million Nigerians at the base of the economic pyramid who are involved in active commercial activity, but have never had the opportunity to access loans.
GEEP under the ministry, has continued to provide incremental 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.
Since its inception in 2016 to date, GEEP has empowered over 2.3 million such micro-enterprises with interest-free loans to grow their businesses, making it the largest public microcredit programme 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.
The National Home Grown School Feeding Programme is a joint Federal-State Programme, the federal government provides funding, coordination and oversight and the states carry out the implementation and data generation.
School feeding programmes are part of social safety nets deployed to address both malnutrition and poverty amongst low income/poor families. The programme is conceived as a multi-sectoral intervention with gains in educational, health and socio-economic outcomes.
Thus far, the programme is implemented in 34 States and the FCT. Total number of children enrolled on the programme – 9,196,823 (NBS verified) and total number of cooks -103,028. As part of the value chain, the programme has improved the nutrition and health of the children, increased school enrolment and completion, sustainable income to small holder farmers, as well as stimulating growth and productivity in communities where schools are situated. Not forgetting financial inclusion, as all cooks are compelled to open and operate bank accounts.
There is also the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, aimed at responding to deficiencies in capacity and lack of investment in human capital of poor and vulnerable households. The Programme is designed to deliver timely and accessible cash transfers, to beneficiary households and sets to support development objectives and priorities.
The programme provides targeted monthly Cash Transfers of N5,000 to poor and vulnerable households, with the sole aim of graduating them out of poverty.
In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mr President directed the ministry to carry out various interventions to the poor and vulnerable, to cushion the effects of the pandemic.
The ministry and agencies under it have been involved in distribution of different kinds of palliatives to the most vulnerable in the society, this includes refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs), older persons, trafficked persons, orphans, the poorest of the poor in communities, and other persons of concern to cushion the effects of COVID-19.
The palliatives include: rice, maize, millet, sorghum, vegetable oil, tomato paste, milk, sugar, spaghetti and other items.
Four months of stipends paid at once to those benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer.
Loans and moratorium to trader and market moni beneficiaries.
Take- Home Food Rations for Households of Children enrolled in the National Home -Grown School Feeding Programme consisting of rice, beans, vegetable oil, palm oil, tomato paste, eggs and salt.
So far, we have carried out one form of intervention or the other in all the 36 States of the federation.
It is worthy of note that at the onset of the pandemic, the National Social Register (NSR) contained data of over 2.6 million poor and vulnerable households (with over 11 million individuals) across 34 states and the FCT.
With the accelerated registration and rapid expansion, the register has at June 30th grown to 3.7 million (equivalent to 15.5 million individuals) across 36 States and the FCT.
In addition, the ministry has finalised processes for the development of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Register targeting the Urban Poor, Semi and Peri – urban areas.
This register will use existing databases from NCC, BVN, SMEDAN etc; and synthesise these data for validation and registration. The World Bank has provided support in finalisation of the template to filter the poor and vulnerable from these databases for validation and registration.
I must mention that we are working assiduously, to ensure the establishment of the National Disability Commission and the take-off of the National Senior Citizen’s Centre.
With all the social intervention programmes initiated and executed by the current administration, Nigerians can look back with gratitude and a sense of fulfilment, while looking forward with audacity of hope, resilience, focus and a deep sense of commitment to strive to continually improve our disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response, even as we create sustainable and inclusive social systems that promote human dignity in Nigeria.