An Inhuman Humanitarian Ministry


Like the name implies, the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Vulnerable Group is supposed to be the most humane government ministry in Nigeria. It is designed to be the charitable arm of the federal government, where issues affecting the least fortunate of us are handled. The ministry is an attempt at consolidating and expanding on President Olusegun Obasanjo’s National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), but it is quite unfortunate that, even though the individuals appointed into that ministry over the years are those we could consider comfortable, they consistently acted like poverty ravaged criminals who were thrown into a storehouse and they decided to fill up their bags, instead of helping to aid the poor.

Unlike in other activities of government where we could correctly blame ineptitude for the failure of officials to deliver on the documented vision and mandate of their offices, the greatest bane of the humanitarian ministry is that those who have been in charge of it over these years, are insensitive and inhuman. This is one ministry where we needed compassion more than competence, but if the allegations coming out from that ministry is anything to go by, then, both Sadiya and Beta were not only wicked, but could also be suffering some grievous mental illness.

I remember reading in the newspapers many years ago where a psychiatrist tried to link corruption in Nigeria to some mental illnesses, a special form of schizophrenia. That claim, apparently, yet to be scientifically tested and proven, is easy to relate with when you observe the type of mindless stealing going on in the country.

I tend to agree with that psychiatrist about the peculiarity of the Nigerian brand of corruption, not because there is any country in the world that is free of corruption, but because the method of the corruption of Nigerian politicians is special, not alarming. If you pick some known lunatics from the streets and put them in power, many of them might not be as crazily corrupt as those we consider sane who find their ways to power and political prominence. Many lunatics would walk into a storehouse and probably pack as much goodies as may satisfy them for a time, some of them would even remember to pick some for their friends and even those who they consider less fortunate than they are. But take the average Nigerian politician to the same storehouse, he would most likely raid everything in that store without minding if he would really need them. Unlike the people that are certified lunatics, the average Nigerian politician might not even remember his friends or try to improve the lives of those in his community, but would pack those money in dollars and other hard currencies and probably bury most of them in cesspits and fritter others away in frivolities. If they have the connections, they would dump some of the funds in offshore accounts, where they would most likely be inherited by those they have no connections with, when they are deceased.

Corruption has almost become a way of life for the average Nigerian and it is hard to find anyone who genuinely feels discomfited with stealing public funds, but I had thought there could be some restraint even among the most unconscionable thieves. I had felt that there would be a limit to stealing things marked to be for the poor, especially, given how religious Nigerians are. There is no religion that does not frown at stealing from the poor; widows, motherless children, orphans, disadvantaged, physically and mentally challenged and those considered, the vulnerable. Our traditional religion would teach you about comeuppance, whereby if you steal from the poor, you would be inviting their pains and misfortunes upon yourself.

The humanitarian ministry is supposed to be a kind of sacred ministry, where the least corruption takes place, because from onset, Presidents should have looked out for those with credible precedence of integrity and honesty to man that ministry. Unfortunately, in that ministry’s eight years of existence, it is likely that 50% of allocations made to the poor through her ended in the pockets of corrupt politicians and their civil servant cohorts.

The irony of our country is that we are among the endowed nations in the world, yet, among the poorest and least developed. But if there is anything that proves that we are an especially wealthy nation, it is the fact that with all the malfeasance going on everywhere, Nigeria is still standing, even though we might be standing on rotten feet, but that we haven’t completely collapsed, is still a miracle.

Let us wish that President Bola Tinubu follows up with the ongoing investigation and disciplinary proceedings against these indicted individuals, it would go a long way in giving sensible Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are interested in our affairs, hope, that indeed, there is some hope for our country.


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