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Umar-Farouq… A facelift for humanitarian intervention


Transparency Watch recently adjudged the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the Best Minister in 12 months of President Muhammadu Buhari second term. Instead of rolling out the drums to celebrate the achievement, she says it calls for more work and not celebration.

The Northeast of Nigeria is one geo-political zone that has suffered most in the last decade, no thanks to Boko Haram insurgency. Many people are afraid to visit the region, but Sadiya Umar-Farouq, in the last 12 months, has practically ‘taken a home’ in the region and initiated committees, including the National Steering Committee for the restructured Multi-sectoral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP) designated for Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.


MCRP is the foundation for the effective implementation of the Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project (PROLAC), sponsored by the World Bank at a whopping sum of $200 million dollars to support the recovery of the Northeast region.

Last month, she has adjudged the best minister in the first 12 months of President Buhari’s second term by Transparency Watch. However, her staff in the ministry, were shocked when they realised she had packed her bag and was on her way to Adamawa State and Gombe states on field trips, shortly after the announcement.

You wonder why in a society where a majority of citizens never fail to roll out the red carpet when opportunities to celebrate achievements present themselves, she wouldn’t want such.

That’s her kind of person.


She belongs to a small club of Nigerians who see awards and achievements as an incentive for more work rather than rolling out the red carpet.

According to the interim report by Transparency Watch, Sadiya Farouq beat her counterparts in the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Youths & Sports, Sunday Dare to the second and third places respectively to be ranked best-performing minister in the first year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term.

President of Transparency Watch, Barrister Maxwell Gowon disclosed that the ministers were graded on organizational strength; performance of agencies under their purview; impact on the lives of the people as well as transparency and accountability.

“In the assessment of organisational strength, of all the ministries reviewed, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development came out tops with a score of 9/10 due to its effective organization of the various interventions of government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) the National N-Power Initiative, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, and the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme,” said Gowon.


Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, never missed an opportunity to say thank you to Umar-Farouq and her ministry. “We are indeed grateful to your ministry for what it is doing for the Boko Haram ravaged people of Borno State,“ he said recently.

While she is excited that an organisation adjudged her best among equals, she described her one year in office eventful and stated that the award calls for more work and not celebration.
“The last 12months have been eventful, interesting and challenging. We have learnt to navigate the peculiar geography of humanitarian interventions, disaster management and social interventions,” she admitted.

The minister, said, “I am grateful that individuals and organisations are watching our activities and to be honoured with awards is a good thing but we are not anywhere near the standard the President set for us. The vision of the President is to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years and our Ministry is playing a major role to make this a reality so we still have a long way to go. Reward for hard work is more work, not a celebration at this stage.”


From hitting the ground running on August 22, 2019, to flag off the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees living in Cameroun, to the visit to the Niger Republic about two weeks after her appointment to rub minds with her counterpart in the country and call for support for humanitarian affairs and disaster management, Umar-Farouq has come a long way in 12 months.

Last week, she was again in Maiduguri to deliver relief materials.

On arrival in Maiduguri, she told newsmen that the airdrop relief operation is being carried out by her ministry in collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force, so as to reach many locals in various communities not accessible in Borno.

“There has been an issue of inaccessibility in some areas where humanitarian workers cannot reach due to recent floods and insecurity,” she said, adding that vulnerable persons, especially the internally displaced people, require further support in terms of basic necessities, including food, from the federal government at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is compounding their sufferings.


“We will identify such locations and know the number of people in those locations,” she said.

She described her experiences as exciting and challenging, “Our ministry was new and we took over responsibilities that were hitherto domiciled in other MDAs and also providing the much-needed coordination of humanitarian interventions in Nigeria. It has been rewarding in the sense that when I visit the field and I see beneficiaries whose lives are being changed by the FG humanitarian interventions, it leaves me with a sense of fulfilment that we are doing something for humanity.”

She was honest to admit that her achievements would have been impossible without, “tremendous support and hands of friendship and partnership extended to the Ministry from different quarters for which we are grateful.”

She also acknowledged the support and collaborations with organisations like Civil Security Cooperation Workshop (CISEC) which led to the Civil Security Coordination Framework and the National Humanitarian Coordination Forum that ensure the smooth conduct of all humanitarian activities in the country.


Others include the Humanitarian Policy Dialogue Forum, which was established to provide a forum in which the Ministry will interact with all CSOs and NGOs, which in turn provides room for interaction and a review of all government policies and humanitarian activities.

Umar-Farouq also thanked Governors of the 36 States and Minister of FCT as well as members of the National Assembly from whom the Ministry has been receiving tremendous support.
Umar-Farouq commended the media, describing them, as “both partner and ally, an important stakeholder group and I want to take out time today to acknowledge the work you do.”

As she begins her second year, Umar-Farouq and her team are focused on surpassing their one-year achievements. “As we mark our anniversary, I want to say that it is a call to more service and a recommitment to our mandate. We have to find new ways to broaden the nexus that connects the management of disasters, provision of humanitarian assistance and the development of social safety nets which help us build resilience for the future”.


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