Not all the ministers in President Buhari’s cabinet have shown an inestimable degree of competence in the different tasks assigned to them. While a few ministers have done remarkably well, none of them have broken barriers like the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in Nigeria—Sadiya Umar Farouq.
Unlike her colleagues who were handed an existing ministry, Sadiya Umar took over a new ministry created by President Buhari in 2020. The purpose of the ministry was to deal with the inhumane issues that Nigerians experience, and to make the Government more accessible to its citizens.
Prior to her appointment as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, she served as the National Treasurer of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) from 2011 to 2013. Sadiya also served as the National Treasurer of the All Progressive Congress (APC) temporally before she became a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council where she served in the Directorates of Election Planning, monitoring field operations and fundraising in preparation for the 2015 general elections. Her outstanding results led to Buhari appointing her as the Federal Commissioner for the National Commission of Refugees, Migrants, and Internally displaced persons in September 2016.
After her resumption as the Federal Commissioner of NCFRMI, Sadiya set to work in implementing strategic decisions for the development of the office she occupied. Her moves included the provision of long-term solutions to Persons of Concerns. It also consisted of implementing procedures for utilising research, data gathering and planning for resettling, rehabilitation, reintegrating and re-admitting displaced people in Nigeria. These achievements caused President Buhari to entrust her with a heavier crown—the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. If she was able to cater to the plight of hundreds of refugees and disaster victims across a state, she might as well begin to cater to the plight of millions of IDPs across the county.
Umar Farouq was saddled with the responsibility of managing and allocating funds to the National Social Investment Programmes and its four components. A sum of N500 billion was allocated to the components of NSIP in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and she was at the centre of this. One of the components of the NSIP relegated to her was the North East Development Commission, which she led phenomenally. Under her leadership, the organisation set out to build 10,000 houses for IDPs in Borno state, and more than 900 houses are still under construction. On 26th June 2020, Sadiya travelled to Borno state on a review visit to the IDP camps—a particularly extraordinary gesture, as only a few people would leave the solace of their homes to go visit the IDPs in an upset state like Borno.
A huge number of families couldn’t send their kids and wards to class because of the insurgency that struck the state. This insurgency left individuals destitute and schools annihilated. Almost 800 schools were obliterated and more than 1000 schools were advised to shut down because of the insurrection. This harm prompted the setting up of a N6 billion Education Endowment Fund for the North district to support the education sector and send the internally displaced children back to school.
The education endowment fund would not only sponsor the education of the displaced students but also invest in ICT training for the children, build the destroyed infrastructures caused by terrorists, and make vocational training available to the youths. It would also sponsor the training of children in the Almajiri system, invest in the development of the sport of the youths in the state, and sustain the education of the beneficiaries of the fund up to the tertiary level. Every one of these objectives was earmarked under the visionary leadership of Sadiya Umar Farouk.
The appearance of the novel virus—COVID19 left numerous individuals in a state of panic. The Nigerian Government imposed lockdowns; markets, general stores, and food vendors were closed down in a bid to control the spread of the infection. This drove a greater part of Nigerian citizens to hunger and starvation. During this tough time, Umar Farouq, yet again, broke another barrier by ensuring that food items and medical supplies were provided for citizens that had no access to them.
At the height of the lockdown in April to June, she led a daring distribution of the palliatives provided by the Federal government without minding the risks it might pose on her health. At that time, a greater part of the Nigerian elites preferred to designate the obligations of sharing the palliatives to their subordinates, while some refused to share the palliatives and hoarded them for themselves and their family members. Not Sadiya Umar Farouq.
On April 6, 2020, she visited the National Strategic Reserve in Minna, Niger state with the Hon Minister of Agriculture and Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, and distributed grains to the FMSDSD. Sadiya took a dangerous risk by going to all states in the area to distribute these palliatives. Reports have it that over 28,000 families in FCT, 37, 589 families in Lagos, and 60, 391 families in Ogun state received palliatives during the lockdown.
One of the qualities that distinguish a leader like Sadiya Umar Farouq is her devotion to the plight of the common man. On many occasions, she proved that she would not only go to a great length to carry out her state duty, but she would also break any barrier that might limit her from delivering results. If a global pandemic could not prevent her from letting her light shine, nothing else will. While others might be doing all they can to ensure her downfall, she continues to rise like a phoenix. It was Elbert Hubbard, the famous American writer and artist, who said, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Sadiya Umar Farouq has decided to take a different route, one where people are bound to throw stones and lay their barriers on the way. Yet, she is bound to keep breaking them through her deeds.