Typical of the fault-finding focus of the media and the political elite, a positive development in government affairs gets fleeting attention-if any. After a first term of strenuous efforts to apply brakes on the affairs of government cascading towards decadent implosion amid incessant resistance from entrenched status quo stalwarts, President Buhari’s second term exhibits a focused grasp on the dysfunctional dimensions with an informed reformative savvy that is bound to halt the rot. One major manifestation of this progressively remedial piloting of government is the creation of new ministries and assigning special priority to critical aspects of national development hitherto drifting into administrative oblivion such as police affairs, power and humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development. Mr President obviously soared above the clueless critics to acquire clearer analysis for intelligent intervention in the interest of the masses.
The creation of a Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of the “next Level” innovations in governance is a particularly outstanding initiative towards bringing government to the most marginalized, helpless and voiceless citizens of this country just when they desperately need such attention and concern. Government’s primary duty is to redress the plight of the majority of its citizens who are seemingly condemned to mere statistical existence as data to justify appropriation of national revenue for the virtually exclusive exploitation of the privileged minority.
President Buhari being the first to translate lip service to affirmative action on humanitarian affairs and disaster management in particular earns him additional distinction for deep-seated devotion to the elevation of public interest to the top priority of government in words and deeds. He went further to select a well-qualified technocrat capable of jump starting the overdue consolidation of existing relevant government agencies and resources dealing with humanitarian affairs and natural disasters for a more robust and coordinated management of humanitarian affairs in Nigeria.
Sadiya Umar Faruk is definitely a good, if not the best, choice for this all-important national assignment by virtue of her relevant work experience. She was the Federal Commissioner of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons before her apt appointment to the new ministry. At the Commission, she made her presence felt by reinvigorating its operations as the lead government agency responsible for coordination, protection and assistance of the distressed and displaced.
The Strategic Roadmap of the Commission that she initiated focused on prudent provision of durable solution to the plight of those affected by natural and man-made disasters through implementation of standardized procedures for utilizing research, data gathering and planning for Resettling, Rehabilitating, Reintegrating and Readmitting them into their communities.
Her impactful performance considered pioneering in the history of the Commission is not happenstance but a testimony to her enviable academic and professional antecedents. Saadiya Umar Faruk, an emerging icon of Zamfara female technocrats, was educated at the Federal Government Girls’ College Gusau and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, where she earned a B.Sc. in Business Administration (Actuarial Science) in 1998. She proceeded to broaden her horizon with a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy in 2008 and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2011 from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, to enhance her technocratic capability.
The pioneer minister of humanitarian affairs will need all her specialized knowledge, insight and experience to meet the daunting challenges of her portfolio. In view of the increasing outbreaks of civil unrest, violence, crime and related destabilizing phenomenon, which consistently descend on the most vulnerable people, harnessing the available vast financial and administrative resources of government into a streamlined channel dedicated to managing and bringing succor to minimize their misery is priority.
The statistics are startling : 2.24 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria, 213,179 living as refugees in Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic, but with the minister’s track record she will be startling us to the pleasant relief of the hapless constituency that has resigned to fatalistic despondency after years of haphazard and often heartless intervention. The initial tacit reluctance of the ‘independent” agencies and departments to adjust could not deter her. She has since set to work bringing the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Commission for Refugees, the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNI) and the Victims Support Fund under her authority, with the benefits of streamlining and committed professional control coming to the fore.
Another vast constituency of vulnerable Nigerians captured by President Buhari’s compassionate concern is the teeming population of unemployed youths and other socially sidelined citizens who constitute a menacing threat to law and order. The necessity of government intervention to ameliorate the compelling circumstances that incriminate them has spawned a series of innovative and purposeful schemes unfortunately impeded by uncoordinated implementation and political patronage.
Happily, Minister Sa’adiya Faruk has already captured the essence of this aspect of her national assignment. At a retreat with stakeholders for meaningful collaboration, she emphasized strengthening Nigeria’s institutional and legal framework for the coordination of humanitarian crises and ongoing interventions and programs delivered by government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). “Our vision is, therefore, to have an inclusive social protection system that is proactive, humane, inclusive and sustainable,” she remarked while assuring that the ministry is already developing its internal structure based on international best practices and considering available technical expertise to strengthen ongoing partnership.
Expectedly, the new ministry and its pioneer minister have been hailed by African Doctors for Africa (AfDA) who regard the creation of the ministry as a unique initiative for all humanitarian activities to be better coordinated for optimal benefits, strengthened by the appointment of a minister “who is a round peg in a round hole, as she parades all that is required to discharge the duties of her office.”
*DANLITI GOGA wrote from Kontagora.