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The ‘Honourable’ Minister Of Humanitarian Affairs! Please Stop This By Abdulkadir Salaudeen

August 6, 2020

They always complain about you over unpaid or belated allowance. These complaints were not heard of before you were brought to office. Now again, feeding of pupils when schools were closed.

If she had kept mum, some of us would look the other way. After all, it is better if you do not know that you are cheated. In that case, ignorance will be golden. I am not extolling ignorance nor do I say it is a virtue.

But it is not better to be ignorant of who killed your father than knowing the killer in a state where common people cases are not attended to. That is the simile of knowing that over N500, 000,000—I mean to say plus N23, 000,000—was entirely and finally spent to feed pupils in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja states respectively during the lockdown. I am sorry; Abuja is not a state, it is just to maintain the flow of the sentence. This is a rebuttal to a rumoured claim that it was N13, 000,000,000 which is unsubstantiated. At least the N523, 000,000 has been substantiated by the Minister through her Special Assistant on Strategic Communication, Halima Oyelade. Note that I have chosen to write these amounts in figure to highlight the number of times zero appears in a Million or Billion for those who do not know. These are humongous amounts!

Let’s do these simple analyses together. Pupils were actually not in school during the lockdown. Recall that the Minister was asked how to feed pupils who were not in school. The response then was as implausible as the intention. And if we assumed the intention to feed pupils is good, there should be a feasible modality of feeding them that will not make people raise eyebrows. Are they even pupils? For they are out of school. Or how did she and her ministry distinguish pupils who are not in school and other children at home? There must be a rocket science explanation to that.


Analysing from another angle, the Minister is most likely a ‘selfless ethnicist’. I hope you understand what I mean. If you do not, she played the ethnic card but against her people. Pause! I will explain. We all had a share of the lockdown. However, in the wisdom of her Ministry only pupils in Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun got the feeding bonanza. Zamfara (her state) did not benefit. Katsina (the President’s state) afflicted with twin lockdowns of Covid-19, Banditry-18-19-20 did not benefit. That is if we assumed banditry took an excruciatingly nihilistic turn in 2018. You are free to do a re-coding. Other northern states adjudged to be wretchedly poor were discountenanced from this nice gesture. Now you understand what I mean by ‘selfless ethinicist’.

Plus, before the Home Grown School Feeding Program was domiciled in the Humanitarian Ministry, every pupil on the program receives a meal a day. After it was domiciled, the figure arrived at—which was not invented—puts number of households in the descending order at 60,391 for Ogun, 37,589 for Lagos and 29,609 for Abuja. All in all, 124,589 households were impacted between May 14, 2020 and July 6, 2020. My addition shows 127,589 households. This does not matter; as the difference is marginal. What matters is my inability, and that of many, to come to terms with the uninventive figure knowing fully well that the population of Abuja and Ogun put together does not come near Lagos' population. It beats the brains of many of us to figure out how and why the figure for Ogun almost equals that of Abuja and Lagos combined together. We are still mystified.

It is pertinent to ask: what is the justification for giving palliatives to every state in Nigeria while Abuja, Lagos and Ogun were singled out for additional palliative—feeding of pupils? What precedent are we setting? Is the Ministry under the stewardship of Miss Saa’diya trying to pit 34 states’ pupils against pupils in Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun? Or could it be a federal character at play? Why was the Ministry prejudiced against other states? Are those favoured pupils—admittedly they were fed—more Nigerians than others? Could it be that Nigeria is awaiting another pandemic which in the wisdom of the Minister another set of pupils in three other states will benefit till it goes round to all states? God forbids! These questions throw one in doubt if that figure was not actually invented.

What is more, the nation was entertained last week by some youths. Someone calls them lazy youths. They claimed to be the exited or rather the sacked N-Powerians—the N-Power volunteers. They held what they tagged ‘Thank You Rally’ to Aso Villa: thanking and eulogising the President and the Minister for the N-Power program. They truly benefited from it but later sacked to be jobless without any soft landing packages. When I first got wind of the rally, behold, my consternation got complexified, for I could not fathom it. What I understand is that most disengaged N-Power volunteers are still nursing their abscess. They could probably not walk. That they held rally to thank the Minister, to me, remained a puzzle. A week before the ‘Thank You Rally’, we saw N-power volunteers chanting anti-government songs, demanding the removal of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs among other demands. Why another set of volunteers chose to praise the Minister calls for investigation.

Luckily, and if that is true, it was alleged that the praise singers were actually stage managed and paid for the job. This is not uncommon in Nigeria where politicians take advantage of the hungry youths to project fake and whitewashed images of themselves when they are becoming unpopular.     

If it is true that those youths were paid for the rally, the Minister should please stop this. And if she is not behind it but some of her loyalists did it, she should please stop them. If the allegation is not true, her detractors should calm down and take it easy. Be that as it may, we should all be wary of the callous verdict of history. The legacy we leave behind (good or bad) when out of office will become history. People will judge us accordingly.

To the Minister, please stop this. Or let this stop. Sometime ago there was an allegation about stolen food donated to the IDPs by Saudi Government in the month of Ramadan in 2017. It was called ‘Dabinogate’. At other times it was a phantom disbursement of N20, 000 to over 2.6 million households as palliative. Senator Ndume challenged you to publish names and banking details of the so-called recipients. He laments: “I have reliable information that even names they have generated are fake, the BVN is not fraud-proof...” The N-power volunteers are not left out.

They always complain about you over unpaid or belated allowance. These complaints were not heard of before you were brought to office. Now again, feeding of pupils when schools were closed. Probably you are innocent. The way you manage things make people think negatively of you and make many allegations. Please stop this! Defend yourself with logical facts if you have them. These allegations are too many. The incidence of these instances of corruption is numerically disturbing. Are you not disturbed? I hope you can come out clean. If really you are clean, God will hopefully help you.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen writes from Gashua

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