The minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Farouk Umar and her team in the ministry in one’s estimation are people of timber and caliber who rose or were appointed to the position they occupy as a result of their acclaimed wealth of experience, integrity and professionalism in the private, public service or both. It was assumed wrongly though that decisions taken by the ministry will reflect such acclaimed high points. The event of the past and the ministry’s insistence to continue with the School Feeding Programme amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has raised more questions on the much acclaimed wealth of experience, quality of decisions and the decision making processes of the ministry. As those saddled with the responsibility of majorly catering for the welfare of human beings, their actions and official positions should actually reflect professionalism and such human elements in words, action and deeds. Uncommon tact is needed now than ever in delivering the ministry’s mandate. An insight into the ministry showed that its vision among other things include to have social protection systems that are proactive, humane, inclusive and sustainable for the improvement and general welfare of the people. The unfortunate emergence of COVID-19 pandemic has put more pressure and placed additional burden on the shoulders of the ministry.
Many have and are wondering how the minister intends to perform the wonder of feeding pupils who are currently locked down at home owing to the corona virus pandemic. Majority have come to the conclusion that it is practically impossible for the ministry to achieve such a mean feat under the situation we have found ourselves. They were of the views that the palliatives claimed to have been distributed by the ministry in the course of containing the COVID-19 pandemic was a disaster to reckon with thus; mooting the idea of feeding pupils who are nowhere near the schools is suspicious, uncalled for and should be stopped immediately. But Sadiya is not taking any of sorts from Nigerians. She does not think the views of Nigerians matter on issues of great concern to their children who are already “consuming food” at home and “disturbing” parents who wants them back to school. She must ram her decision down the throat of all. I do not even see the minister backing down on her decision to implement an unpopular policy as it has become the trade mark of most public office holders today. Her defiant insistence expectedly has generated much angry debate and has put her on a collision course with many Nigerians who felt there is more to this than meets the eyes. People suspect that this is another fast one by those in the ministry and their corrupt collaborators to as usual siphon public fund. In fact, there is no good reason to contemplate or justify School Feeding Programme now. It is ridiculous and has failed all rational tests and of all sense of judgment. Nigeria as a nation has unfortunately been blessed with only deaf and dumb leaders in ministries, agencies and in all the tiers of government. Listening is a skill the minister deserves to acquire. She has it in short supply. Coming down from ones high horse and paying attention to constructive criticism and genuine opinions of even those in opposition is a spice to improvement in good governance.
How could a nation without sufficient population data base which is issued regularly on estimation be able to trace the homes of all pupils meant to benefit from this Sadiya’s benevolence? There is also a good reason to doubt if primary schools in Nigeria have good file records keeping of students’ primary data such as house addresses with phone numbers of their parents and guardians. With all that have happened so far on COVID-19 and the way and manner states and federal government woefully handled what benefits the citizens, one tends to begin to align with the notion that when intelligent and reasonable people in Nigeria find themselves in position of authority, they lose their shine; grip of issues. Na who do us abeg? The nation is stagnated today and always yearns for help of this one simple reason of good leadership. We have a nation where policies and programmes no matter how excellent are always implemented in reverse mode. Those in authority see themselves as “tin gods” and are only accountable to themselves not the citizens. Nobody is all knowing including the minister and her ministry. Nigeria is a nation where nepotism and tribalism defines the choice of and position one occupies. One can say without fear of contradiction that President Buhari’s government has recorded ministerial rascality more than ever in the history of democracy in Nigeria. How could a nation move forward when government officials act way below the understanding of kids? It is laughable for anyone to believe that a programme meant to feed pupils which never succeeded at a time schools were in session will yield the desired result now that the schools are closed for the same reason very clear to government.
The ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is in conflict with itself to have contemplated resuming this feeding plan. I wonder if they are blind to the obvious reason why they should not. One is free to conclude that the ministerial team is working at cross purposes with the government and people it represents. Most of them are out to device means of lining their pockets using the feeding programme as a cover. If not, some reasonable individuals should have pointed out the ridiculous and the lack of ideas that resumption of the programme now will fly. The minister should have it at the back of her mind that accountability calls. If nor now, definitely in the near future. The trust and confidence levels citizens reposed in the public office holders have since eroded before the coming of this administration and has hit its worst low since 2019. This carefully rehearsed plot by people in authority to fleece Nigerians under a programme with dubious intention should not be allowed to succeed. Well-meaning Nigerians should rise up to against it and prevail on the minister to shelve the idea until such a time when it is appropriate. And if the ministry is itching to deliver on its mandates so to say, then the money should be channeled to other meaningful and convincing people oriented projects. However, the take of majority of Nigerians is that the feeding programme should stop and it has to. Nigeria belongs to all of us and we all have equal stake in deciding the right way to governance, her growth and development. When will the right and overwhelming views of Nigerians form part of government decision making processes one may ask?
Sunday Onyemaechi Eze, a Media and Communication Specialist is the publisher: thenewinsightng.blogspot.com. He wrote via sunnyeze02 @yahoo.com and could be reached on 08060901201