BY SANI MUHAMMAD SANI
When the minister of humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farook recently stormed Zamfara state with a view to conferring with stakeholders in the state and the sole aim of achieving a Six point Agenda that comprise of the improvement of household consumption, increase in utilization of health and nutritional services, improve school enrolment and attendance,Improve environmental sanitation and management, encourage household financial and asset acquisition and Engage beneficiaries in sustainable livelihood has definitely hit the right button.
As there were several, if not uncountable complaints that the palliatives extended to cushion the negative effect of Covid 19 delivered to the state at various times were not benefitted by the right people, the downtrodden who rightly deserve it and are in dire need of it.
While declaring the Town Hall meeting open for all constructive deliberations, the Minister in response to these allegations during the town hall meeting said that the federal government under her ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that irregularities, if there is any are already addressed, explaining that it is not possible for all to access the palliatives in each segment “,But if one cannot access it now there are more to come, there are much to be distributed.” She said
In the practically over crowded hall at the government house, Gusau, the minister revealed that she was also in Zamfara State seeking to collaboratively engage the State Government and critical stakeholders on how the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and its Agencies can support the vision of a greater Zamfara State and indeed, a united Nigeria.
The Town hall meeting is significant according to her, as it will pave way to collectively communicate, identify, articulate and derive solutions to the humanitarian and developmental challenges that have arisen in the State from banditry, extreme weather conditions and the COVID – 19 pandemic.
She pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, ongoing activities of armed bandits and the flooding experienced across the North West has led to the displacement of over 247,000 persons across Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Niger and Kebbi and has impacted the economic and agricultural activities in Zamfara State, thereby, creating socio and economic vulnerabilities.
She said, “The federal government noted that Food insecurity, a derivative of man-made and natural disasters being experienced in the North West, is also of particular concern to the government”.
“I must reiterate our commitment to supporting the state government in addressing the challenges of economic vulnerability in Zamfara State”.
The Ministry will continue its partnership with the State Government to implement humanitarian, social inclusion and protection measures, these measures include the N-Power programme which has enlisted and deployed a total of 500,000 N-Power Volunteers, meeting the programmes initial goal, this has been the largest post -tertiary engagement of human resources in Africa.”
She further explained that the Federal Government through the non-graduate programmes, revived the apprenticeship culture by building a skilled workforce of volunteers equipped with life -long skills stressing that Volunteers are trained in automobile repair, hospitality, carpentry and joinery, plumbing and pipefitting, 2D/3D animation, scriptwriting, tech software and hardware, voice acting, video production, electrical installation, masonry and tiling while the N-Power programmes has catered to 10,346 beneficiaries in Zamfara state, from inception.
“Approximately, 282,529 pupils in Zamfara State are being fed in 1,759 schools across the 14 LGAs with meals prepared by over 2000 cooks under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) being run in 35 states of the federation and the FCT with over 9 million children being fed as part of wider efforts by the Federal Government to address hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria.”
The SA Strategic Communication to the humanitarian minister, Halima Oyedele further explained that, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) a flagship programme of the FG that has three prominent products which include TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni spread across 2,678 Clusters or markets, traders and farmers. To stimulate economic activity, the GEEP programme has provided loans to 48,503 individuals in Zamfara State.
Oyedele revealed that the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) has achieved so much since its relocation to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Zamfara States, previously not receiving payment have also started receiving payment; Beneficiaries enrolled into the program increased from 630,964 Poor and Vulnerable Households with direct household beneficiaries of 3,201,402 as at August 2019 to 1,289,405 Poor and Vulnerable Households with 6,443,878 direct household beneficiaries as at August 2020; and, Numbers of beneficiaries receiving payment increase from 469,362 HHs in 22 States to Over 1 Million HHs in 34 States.
The CCT provides 129,137 poor and vulnerable households in Zamfara with a monthly base cash transfer of N5,000, with the sole aim of graduating them out of poverty.
The beneficial local governments and breakdown for each local government are received payment as at August 2020 with of Households Paid in Bungudu, Birnin Magaji, Talatar Mafara, Tsafe, Kauran Namoda and Anka local Governments, reciving the payments of ₦6,091,580,000.00.
The Humanitarian action carried out by the National Emergency Management Agency and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons have provided relief interventions after a fire outbreak to Gusau local government area and the distribution of drugs, food and non-food items in Gusau, Mahdi Gusau, Anka, Maradun, Shinkafi and Zumi, respectively.
The CCT exercise conducted in six local government areas, namely, Anka, Bungudu, Birnin Magaji, Kauran Namoda Tsafe and Talatar Mafara, improved the socio-economic livelihood of over 130,000 beneficiaries with payments of between 30,000 – 80,000 distributed based on dates each beneficiary was registered into the CCT Programme.
The beneficiaries in their various testimonies commended president Muhammad Buhari and the minister for reaching out to them.
Fadimatu Usman from Anka local government Area, Zamfara State, said “I have just received the money, twenty thousand naira, it is in my hand right now. I have been engaged in the business of cooking and selling of “Masa” rice and soup, I sell it in the morning. I’ll invest this money in the business to cook in higher quantity.”
I pray to Allah to see this minister and the president through, may he assist them to complete their tenure in peace.
Rakiya Abubakar from Anka local government Area, Zamfara State who has received twenty thousand naira from the minister pray to Allah to reward abundantly, president Muhammadu Buhari and Allah protection in all thir endeavours.
She said “I am going to invest the money in various small businesses that I have been engage in, I sell charcoal and I do many small businesses, I’m going to invest the money in what I’ve been buying and selling by the grace of Allah.”
I am so happy with this intervention, I am already a tailor, so I’ll use the money to improve my tailoring activities, I am so happy with this money, may Allah reward the president and the minister.
A cripple, Zainab Hafizu, express her delight for the assistance saying that the gesture make it possible for her to stop begging for alms while A’isha Kabiru of Talatar Mafara local government area of Zamfara state after receiving the cash transfer I cannot express how happy I am right now, she disclosed that she is engage in selling of Maggie cubes and others and “I’ll use the money to enjoy good soup, tomato sauce, you know how we the old people are and I’ll utilised the rest to invest in my business.”
She pointed out that she has several small businesses that she’ll improve and express her delight for the intervention.
Others that were engaged in selling of cooked rice and beans and other small businesses said they’ll use the intervention to expand their businesses.
As highlighted earlier, the COVID – 19 Pandemic lockdown negatively affected national economic and social activities. In view of these challenges and as outlined in the ‘Bouncing Back: Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan’ document, the existing Social Investment Programmes are being expanded to offer greater and wider protection to the most vulnerable persons and communities: In October 2019, the Zamfara Social Register had 175,955 poor and vulnerable households (PVHHs) made up of 802,279 individuals.
Today, the register has grown under my stewardship to 420,358 PVHH and 1,950,201 individuals that will benefit from the government’s social safety net programmes.
The ministry Halima Oyedele stressed that the Cash Transfers will be expanded to cover an additional 1 million households, nationwide. Of this expansion, Zamfara will have a total of 138,861 new beneficiaries, in addition to the 130,000 currently being paid through the Cash Transfer programme.
The minister during the town hall meeting said that her ministry has worked assiduously with the State government to provide the good people of Zamfara State with programmes, “however, we are cognisant of the fact that to improve we must engage to identify any gaps and work with you all collectively to address the challenges. Our goal is to listen to all stakeholders, so that in the development of policies and programmes, we actively adopt and utilise the ideas and solutions that we will discuss today, to re-imagine and define a new approach to tackling and effectively resolving social and economic vulnerabilities in Zamfara State.
The minister while looking forward to the conversations, which provides a stakeholder review of the programme implementation, challenges and the way forward, pointed out that the meeting is a demonstration of the government’s consideration of all citizens saying that all stakeholders present have a significant role to play in assisting the State and Federal government to serve them and their communities better.
“So, as we commence the engagement segment of this Town Hall meeting, may I request that we constructively deliberate on how the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and its Agencies can ensure that the policies and programmes being developed, reviewed and implemented, guarantee resilience and a dignified outcome for the vulnerable in Zamfara State.
The minister, Sadiya Umar Farook, acknowledged and thank Governor, Bello Muhammad of Zamfara State and other critical stakeholders for providing an enabling environment for the Ministry during the Government’s COVID -19 response, which leveraged the structure of the social investment programs to support the implementation of the presidential directive related to Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes and the Conditional Cash Transfer.