Kudos to the president for not only creating this much-needed Ministry, but for having the foresight of making a choice from one of his own; from choosing his capable daughter, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, to reach out to Nigerians affected by humanitarian crisis and disaster, in trying to lift as many people out of poverty as possible…


At the core of the Next Level agenda that characterised the manifesto of President Buhari’s second term is the policy to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. The thrust of this is the care of victims of the vast humanitarian crises that Nigeria has been confronted with.

It goes without saying that there’s no shortage of challenges ahead: For well over a decade now, Nigeria has been embroiled in a huge humanitarian emergency occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency, sectarian crisis, herders and farmers’ clashes, man made and natural disasters, banditry, erosion due to climate change, poverty, ignorance, economic inequality, illiteracy, trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The fallout of this is that a refugee crisis of monumental proportion has occurred. Hundreds of thousands of helpless Nigerians have been displaced, with refugees spattered in Nigeria and all across our porous borders. These refugees desperately need food, shelter, health care and humanitarian aid.

To clear these hurdles, this administration is going to need an organised structure, a policy framework and the political will to make an impact. And to accelerate that change, it will need a platform that can bring all the requisite features together; a platform that can enact and enforce the necessary policies to address the challenges and crisis that tens of thousands of helpless Nigerians face. It will need medics, psychologists, sociologists, researchers and local leaders, academics and engineers, programmers, surgeons, and teachers, among others.

And most important, apart from addressing the disasters and humanitarian crisis, it will need to equip those who are saved with the tools to be able to develop on their own. In providing these tools, the administration will need to empower them with the ability to learn new skills, so they can help themselves, help their communities and deliver the country to the next generation.

Perhaps this was the vision of the president when he created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. The Ministry is designed to proffer resolutions to the plight of millions of Nigerians who are suffering and are the victims of the huge humanitarian crisis in the country. There is no doubt that with the creation of this Ministry, there will be better coordination of humanitarian services in Nigeria.

Of all the ministries created, none is as vital as this one, given that the environment we are presently existing in is one of monumental crisis. It is the face of compassion of this government and if it succeeds, history will likely judge this administration as being a successful one. Such a structure is needed to overcome some of the challenges we face in our communities, especially for those of us who have been struck with the misfortune of the disaster that has been replete in the Nigerian society.

One does not need to recite here the history of poverty, the humanitarian crisis and the situations of disaster in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in our local communities today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that continues to suffer under the brutal legacy of poverty. Hopefully this specific Ministry can and will rise to such challenges.

It’s no secret that many of us have not been enthusiastic about almost all the governments in this Fourth Republic. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decipher that a chunk of us have been jaded by some of the decisions and appointments made by these administrations. But I must say that I am thoroughly excited about the creation of this Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and President Buhari’s choice of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq to head it. I am excited because I know her character, her capability and her will to deliver.

I have known Hajiya Sadiya for a very long time. We have the kind of unbreakable sisterhood where we love each other very much and share a trust where we do not keep secrets from one another. And it is from my intimate knowledge of the kind of person that she is and the intent that she has in her new role as the honourable minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development that gives me solace and peace that, in this instance, President Buhari has knocked this one out of the park.

Not only did the president get it right by creating this much needed new Ministry and merging it with the required components it needs if it is going to be positioned to leave a lasting legacy, he also appointed the perfect person to build and navigate it in the way it requires.

I’ve known this exciting new minister in professional, political, personal and academic capacities and can say unequivocally that she has all the qualities needed to execute her role. It’s been a minute since I’ve been excited about any government decision. But I am excited about the possibilities of this one.

For those who still don’t quite appreciate President Buhari’s choice of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq as the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the case for her is a powerful one. In her professional, academic and political capacities, she ticks all the boxes.

It’s an illusion to think that she was just some random politician that was picked out of the crowd. She was deeply immersed in all the detail of the 17-year movement that brought her father to power, and all its intrigues and technicalities. From a political vantage point, Hajiya Sadiya has gone beyond cutting her political teeth. She is not just a daughter to the president.

Hajiya Sadiya was always interested in politics and the decision to navigate towards General Buhari’s political movement was an easy one for her because she is extremely close friends with some of his children. Growing up within the same vicinity and appreciating General Buhari’s qualities, which shone in his daughters, it was easy for Sadiya to gravitate towards the movement of this father figure.

Hajiya Sadiya’s extraordinary loyalty, hard-work and composure made her stand out in General Buhari’s political movement. Bold, honourable, principled, hardworking, loyal, determined, brilliant, smart, brave and tireless in her resolve to take on the might of the opposition party and the cause for change, which Nigerians yearned for, she inspired a hesitant collective and stood behind the man whose leadership she could see beyond being her close friend’s father and the father she had known most of her life.

She is very optimistic, the fundamental belief at its core that the people of Nigeria, for all our varied backgrounds and outward differ­ences, could come together to build a better future. She still believes that. She believes we can work together to do big things that raise the fortunes of the Nigerian people. She is a decent and honourable woman, as well as a charming one, and it is these qualities, not just her loyalty and steadfastness, that has taken her to where she is today.

I am so proud that President Buhari was able to look beyond her in the capacity of his daughter and see a brilliant administrator with the ability to deliver. By doing this, he has gone out of his way to give leadership to a person who can respond to the humanitarian crisis in the country, not only in a professional way, but in a manner that empowers her to execute her role, while being unafraid to take issue with him when the need arises. It is a breath of fresh air for the president to surround himself with a person who can challenge him and question his assumptions. And I know that, as his daughter, she will have the confidence to do so.

Perhaps, one of the most innovative aspects of this new Ministry is the inclusion of social development in its trajectory. It just simply makes sense! After responding to the humanitarian needs of the victims and managing the fallout of disasters, it is necessary to put in place and equip those affected with the support and tools needed to develop on their own. Unless this is done, then, in time, the disaster will go back to square one. With time, it would be as if no humanitarian need or disaster was managed. For the full completion of the response, those affected must be empowered after they have been saved.

This realisation seems to be a very clear one for the president who reinforced it in his Independence Day Speech, where he articulated that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was specifically created to consolidate and build on the achievements of the Ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention Programme, which targets vulnerable groups, through the Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing scheme.

With this pronouncement, the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will now directly be overseeing the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), the billion naira social welfare scheme. No longer is this scheme domiciled in the vice president’s office.

Another important advantage of social development being domiciled in this Ministry, as opposed to it being under the vice presidency, is the need for longevity and legacy. If this very important scheme did not find a structured home under a Ministry, there was the risk of it fizzling out at the expiration of this administration, since any subsequent government will not be under any obligation to inherit a policy of the Vice President’s office. By moving it to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, President Buhari has effectively protected and saved it.

While establishing this Ministry will be daunting, as a former federal commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons since September 26, 2016, Hajiya Sadiya is up to the task.

The humanitarian challenges facing this fractured nation seems endless. Between insecurity, the fallout from disasters, poverty, financial prosperity, even stability, feels increasingly out of reach of many Nigerians: Today, far more people are more pessimistic than optimistic about life for the next generation of Nigerians. But somehow, somewhere, hope arises in the form of a Ministry formed to cater for the less privileged. And to top it, it will be led by an absolute lady of substance, a daughter to a president who sees her capability to deliver.

Hajiya Sadiya is well equipped to mobilise local and international support for the government’s work in the humanitarian and disaster management sectors. She is more than capable to coordinate all the parastatals and agencies under her Ministry to confront the challenges of displacement, insurgency, banditry, flood, fire, poverty and other effects of disaster.

Since Hajiya Sadiya took up the mantle of leadership at the helm of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, she has hit the ground running. And this is despite all the challenges faced, some of which include an extremely delayed mandate, lack of official staff and no office space or accommodation. Despite everything, she has managed to make it function through hard work, innovation, tact and selflessness.

Because I know and trust her, I’m confidant that she will not let her position as a close friend of the children of the president or a daughter of President Buhari obstruct or deter her. She sees herself as a national servant called up to her civic duty, working for the Nigerian people. And I know that she will apply herself to the very best that is humanly possible and, By Allah’s will, shall have a successful outing. I often joke with her that no longer can she just consider President Buhari as a father, now she has to truly consider him as a boss as well. This, she firmly agrees with.

Hajiya Sadiya is truly one of a kind; the kind of citizen we desire to see contribute her quota in moving this country forward. She is kind, brilliant, pious, thoughtful, smart, funny, charming, considerate, brave, focused, principled, honest, generous, God-fearing, witty, honourable, innovative, bold, hard working and so much more. I am truly excited to see what she will bring to the table.

Kudos to the president for not only creating this much-needed Ministry, but for having the foresight of making a choice from one of his own; from choosing his capable daughter, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, to reach out to Nigerians affected by humanitarian crisis and disaster, in trying to lift as many people out of poverty as possible and empowering them with social development.

May Allah continue to guide Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, The Honorable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Hannatu Musawa; @hanneymusawa; www.hanneymusawa.com; www.facebook.com/hannatu.musawa; www.youtube.com/HannatuMusawa