It is sad news for some Nigerians as Nigeria is no longer the poverty capital of the world. Nigeria has relinquished that toga, as millions of impoverished Nigerians became relieved from the state of being in abject poverty. Nigeria had about 87 million people in abject poverty, and that figure has been trimmed down to 70 million; with much more progress being recorded. Roughly 20 million people have graduated from living in squalor. The PMB administration had created the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, FMHDSD; to cater for the less privileged, socially disadvantaged, physically handicapped, and ofcourse internally displaced persons from the challenges of insecurity in the country.
In 3 different articles, I tried to highlight the functions, focus and challenges of the FMHDSD. In ‘The burdens of Humanitarian Services and Social Development’, in October of 2019; I mentioned that, “Sadiya Farouk is the human face of the PMB administration, leading the drive to provide succour for displaced persons, women, children and the teeming youth population of unemployed Nigerians. She will lead the expansion of the NSIP programme, giving out micro-credit to young entrepreneurs, at little or no interest.” In the second piece ‘Sadiya Farouk: A year of servitude and promise’, I underlined that “The most remarkable stride of the Humanitarian ministry, is the establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.” I also highlighted the improvements in the social investment programmes, with massive increases in the number of N-power beneficiaries. Other segments include, The Conditional cash transfer, as well as the growth enhancement and empowerment programmes. There’s also the National Home grown School Feeding Programme. These have millions of beneficiaries, with the registers growing every quarter. Almost half a million of these beneficiaries are being prepared for loans from the CBN, as they graduate from trainings.
The third piece ‘Humanitarian afterall’, in October of 2020, was penned just when the FMHDSD was being accused of short changing the masses, and diverting the items meant to relieve them from the hardships brought upon them by the restrictions of covid. The minister had confirmed that over 70,000 metric tonnes of grains had been distributed across the states. She was hounded and told off. People didnt believe her. It took the endsars protests, to absolve the Minister from those allegations. Hoodlums accessed the grain storage facilities in various states and embarrassingly, the food items had indeed been taken to the states by the FMHDSD. The sacks and cartons of foodstuff in those facilities carried Federal Government logos and descriptions, indicating that they were brought into the states by the FG, but were never distributed to the masses appropriately.
Enter 2021, The Ministry, under the Household Uplifting Programme, HUP, embarked on an aggressive campaign, to capture a social register, through the National Social Safety Nets Co-ordinating Office. This Office is charged with building a National Social Register, and the co-ordination of livelihood support to extremely poor and vulnerable households in Nigeria. Data of such persons were being collected, where a stipend of 5000 naira is sent to them monthly, for a period of six months, making a total sum of 30,000 naira. I know of hundreds of people from Majidadi A Ward and Majidadi B Ward of my local government, Bauchi; who have received such alerts in Bauchi state. The joy on their faces, and the thrill in their voices is just infectious. Where some people feel that 5000 naira is too little for the poor ones amongst us is just mischievous and disheartening. Even people on minimum wage and more, get excited and joyous over a 5000 naira bonus or cash gift. In Jigawa state, women beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, CCT, contributed their monies, and purchased a vehicle for transporting pregnant women to hospitals for the delivery of their babies. The Executive Director of Rural Initiative for Comprehensive Development, Hadiza Abdulwahab confirmed the story, and commended the women’s altruism.
Now that millions are being rescued from the doldrums of poverty, more challenges loom, in the face of the Ukrainian war. There are scares of global food crises and Africa seems to be more susceptible to that heat. Sadiya Farouk will do a lot of good by making sure that; 1. The capture and disbursement is done more transparently and evenly, and 2. The register is boosted and increased to accommodate tonnes of more beneficiaries. It is helping a lot people that need help out there — unlike the keyboard warriors who feel 5000 naira is not enough to recharge their phones or data packages. 5000 naira to a poor man is huge, and 5000 naira monthly for 6 months would definitely make a difference. Ramp up those numbers Sadiya. I implore you to ramp up the numbers, so that nationwide, we will be gladdened by the joyous gratitude of happy people, receiving their NASSCO COVID 19 alerts!
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.