Humanitarian affairs ministry: Two years after, how well so far?




The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development marked its two years of creation by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 21. PAUL OKAH takes a look at the performance of the ministry under Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq.

On August 21, 2019, history was made when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, saddling it with the responsibility of providing humanitarian needs to victims of disaster and succour to the downtrodden. Borno state-born Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq was appointed as its pioneer minister.

Two years down the line, the ministry is regarded as one of the important ministries in the country as a result of its regular and daily interactions with the less privileged, disaster victims and ensuring alleviation of poverty.

A number of agencies have since been brought under the supervision of the ministry – the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), North East Development Commission (NEDC), the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) and Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs).

The ministry equally oversees the activities of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs), which were created via a presidential directive in 2016 by President Buhari, aimed at achieving macroeconomic stability as a key execution priority for the Nigerian government as identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and have four programmes, including the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Job Creation Unit (N-Power), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

The importance of the ministry was particularly highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was saddled with the responsibility of distributing palliatives to Nigerians locked down at home in different states.

NSIP

The National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) is unarguably the biggest programme handled by the ministry with almost every household in Nigeria benefiting from daily programmes of the ministry, directly or indirectly, since 2016. The NSIP, including the NHGSFP, N-Power, CCT and GEEP, has been impacting on Nigerians and helping to reduce poverty and the high unemployment rate as it gives food, cash or stipends to different categories of beneficiaries.

The GEEP 2.0 programme, launched on August 24, this year, provides interest-free loans of N50, 000 to traders, market women, artisans, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as enterprising youths, through TraderMoni and MarketMoni, while farmers and agricultural workers receive N300, 000 loans through Farmer Moni, even as the CCT ensures bimonthly payment of N10, 000 stipend to the poorest of the poor households to help them in feeding.

As of Tuesday (September 14), 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households, comprising more than 8 million individuals, are currently benefiting from the CCT programme, while 300 billion naira had been disbursed to farmers.

On the other hand, as of June, a total of 9,196,823 pupils in classes one to three in public primary schools received one nutritious meal daily in all 54,619 schools nationwide, while 103,028 cooks, 100,000 small holder farmers and numerous aggregators and commodity transporters were engaged nationwide, to ensure increase in school enrolment, boosting of local economies and facilitating job creation.

N-power

The most popular of the NSIP is perhaps the N-power programme where each beneficiary is paid N30, 000 on a monthly basis for two years, with some beneficiaries of Batch A and Batch B establishing businesses in their communities and more than 109,823 beneficiaries identifying themselves as business-owners before the end of 2020. Due to the successes recorded, in January, President Buhari approved the of the NSIPs to accommodate more primary school pupils, traders, graduates, farmers, among others.

As a result of the president’s approval, the NHGSFP was expanded to include additional 5 million pupils, “including children in non-conventional educational settings,” the N-power programme created jobs for one million beneficiaries, the GEEP programme provided loans to an additional one million traders, farmers and market people, while the social register was expanded to accommodate an additional one million households.

On August 23, the federal government flagged off the N-power Batch C programme for one million beneficiaries across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Speaking during the flag-off exercise in Abuja, the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, said the ministry was partnering with agencies to overcome all identifiable challenges in the NSIP.

She said: “I thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his administration’s unwavering efforts in eradicating poverty in our country and for supporting and sustaining the National Social Investment Programme. It is worthy to note that Mr. President recognised the creativity and impact of the N-power and has graciously approved the expansion of the programme from 500,000 to 1,000,000 beneficiaries, to enable more young people to benefit.

“Based on this approval, the portal was again opened in June 2020, and over 6 million new applications were received. 1,000,000 beneficiaries will be mined from this as the N-power Batch C. The batch C is divided into two streams. Stream C1 of 510,000 beneficiaries and stream C2 for 490,000 beneficiaries. Under the Batch C1, a total of 450,000 have been selected to benefit under the graduate component, while 60,000 beneficiaries will be non-graduate beneficiaries. Today, we are here to flag off the N-power Batch C1.

“Some innovations have been introduced into the N-power selection and payment processes such as the creation of the National Social Investment Management Systems (NASIMS), partnership with key MDAs including the NYSC, the UBEC, the NPHCDA, the NOA to mention, but a few, with which the Ministry is leveraging to effectively implement its interventions.

“To ensure that the challenges of communication is addressed, most particularly as it relates to limitations on information flow and internet access across the country and in a bid to provide accessibility to all target programme applicants and beneficiaries, the ministry has secured the USSD short code *45665# to provide the required connectivity and technical support for the provision of information services to our beneficiaries.”

Testimonies

Despite some criticisms against the ministry, testimonies abound of Nigerians being rescued from the manacles of poverty through NSIP. In an interview with Blueprint Weekend, one of the beneficiaries who hails from Adamawa state, Adamu Ahmed, said savings from stipends paid to him for participating in the scheme has enabled him to get married.

He said, “I hail from Fufoore local government area of Adamawa state. I am a Batch B N-power beneficiary under N-Agro. I have benefited a lot from the N-power program and I remain grateful to the Federal Government for creating the program. About 500,000 youth like me have benefited greatly from it. Part of the benefits of the N-power is the shop it helped me to establish.

“The N-power program also supported me in getting married and now I am a proud father. I am grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq. I advise all N-power beneficiaries, especially the incoming Batch C, to make good use of the opportunity.”

Similarly, Hassan Mustapha Hammed, who hails from Bauchi state, told this reporter that he was able to build a house and establish a business from stipends he saved under N-power.

“I am an N-power beneficiary, under N-health in Bauchi state. I was able to achieve a lot from the stipends I was getting from the N-power programme. After we were selected, we were trained on several aspects of health. We trained on injury treatment, surgery, injections and other aspects. Because N-power has empowered me, I am now giving back to my community.

“Presently, I can boast of a stable job under health service provision, an animal farm, which I was able to achieve from the stipends. As a result of N-power, I now have my own house in Bauchi. I got married and we are blessed with three lovely children. I am very grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs for lifting me and many others out of poverty,” he said.

Furthermore, Comrade Imrana Adamu, who hails from Gombe state, told Blueprint Weekend that he is now a businessman because of the opportunities afforded him by the N-power scheme.

“I am one of the Batch A beneficiaries; since the inception of the programme in 2016 to the disengagement period in June, 2020. With the help of N-power, I was able to earn 30,000 naira monthly. However, if the federal government can give us the exit package as promised, I will add it to my medical supply business and improve my life,” he said.

Despite the people’s testimonies to the success of the programmes so far, some are of the belief that the ministry could still do more.