Her reign is just one year, one month, yet Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development of Nigeria can be easily regarded as the worst of all President Muhammadu Buhari’s 44 Ministers.
Bankable information says Farouq, 45, is by age the youngest minister in the current federal cabinet (the kind of detail patriotic Nigerian youths want to hear). All the same, she has been an embarrassment to that category of persons.
The reason is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf. Farouq is in charge of Nigeria's National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs), in which the famed N-Power scheme is one of its elements.
Pre-Farouq time as N-Power head, beneficiaries have never had it worse.
Indeed, N-Power beneficiaries have been disappointed in one way or the other since the scheme was birthed in 2016, but Farouq complicated matters, delaying stipends unnecessarily and exiting the Batch A and B beneficiaries without a proper plan in place for them.
Numerous N-Power beneficiaries have described Minister Farouq's portfolio (Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management) as an aberration, rechristening the Zamfara-born politician the 'Disaster Minister'. Very right they are! The voice of the people they say is the voice of God. These beneficiaries are directly affected by Farouq, they know where the shoe pinches, hence, their assessment of her is very valid and no amount of PR by Farouq's media team can undo the reality.
Since NSIP which was managed by Maryam Uwais, the special adviser to President Buhari on social intervention was moved from the office of the vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to the ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development on October 1, 2019, Farouq has paid N-Power stipends promptly only once. And that was the May stipend which was paid on the 1st of June 2020 upwards. This is a verifiable fact.
At the early stage of her period in office, Farouq blamed the stipends delay on the handing-over process of the N-Power to her ministry.
Afolabi Imoukhuede, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President Buhari on Job Creation, who conceptualised, developed and implemented the N-Power scheme has since handed off. Yet, it is still excuses upon excuses from Farouq. You see genuine N-Power beneficiaries come online to lament their situation.
The most recent excuse given by Farouq was the April migration of N-Power beneficiaries' data to the new payment platform, the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS). Inexplainable how four months after, these Nigerian youths whom the government emphasise to must have no other job other than N-Power, have to always cry online for their N30, 000 (79 US Dollars) monthly entitlement. More bewildering is it that this is a money that has been budgeted for.
At the present moment, you exit beneficiaries without paying their monthly stipends for June and July, despite telling them their time was officially up on July 31st, 2020. Which humane mind does that? And the fact Farouq should be a mother figure absolutely makes her character more worrisome.
On March 31st, 2020, during the stay-at-home directive by the Federal Government (FG) to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Farouq promised that her ministry will pay the monthly stipends of N-Power beneficiaries 'immediately'.
Payment for the month of March was not made until at least mid-April. This is another verifiable fact.
For April 2020 stipends to N-Power beneficiaries, Farouq, feeling the steam, lied to the Nigerian public on May 23 that she had paid. Meanwhile, that was a big fat lie. Payment only commenced several hours after the news was published in major Nigerian newspapers.
Farouq's mismanagement of the N-Power scheme and her brazen lies is a stain on the integrity of her principal, Buhari. She lies and gets away with it despite public outcry.
On February 23, 2020, when Federal lawmakers grilled her over delay in stipends of N-Power beneficiaries stipends, Farouq alongside Tijjani Ahmed, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs plainly lied that they have paid N-Power beneficiaries for that month. In fact, the beneficiaries did not start receiving credit alerts for their February stipends until March.
In her 'note of gratitude' to N-Power beneficiaries on June 30, 2020, Farouq told beneficiaries that they would be transitioned to other entrepreneurial schemes, but ever since she has been humming this claim, it has always been vague.
It is terrible of Farouq that she can give an update on Batch C registration on Tuesday and totally ignore exited beneficiaries, whom she has not paid two-month stipends.
You cannot call yourself a Humanitarian Minister and do that!
Farouq isn't even handling other NSIPs exceptionally. Apart from the pictures displayed to us on social media, how many Nigerians truly received the COVID-19 relief?
From her handling of the most important programme of the Buhari administration, which is the N-Power scheme, it is crystal clear that Farouq is not worthy of occupying the seat of a minister, let alone Minister of Humanitarian Affairs.