Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, has told SaharaReporters that reports of plans by President Muhammadu Buhari and her to get married was a ploy by some persons to distract them from the work of governance.
News had gone out in October that President Buhari and Farouq, a long time associate of his, were set to tie the nuptial knots in a high-profile ceremony in Northern Nigeria.
Farouq, a native of Zamfara, who has never been married, said that though she and the retired military general were quite close, having worked closely with him for over 17 years all the while he contested and lost presidential elections, there had never been any romantic affair between them to warrant them getting married.
Farouq, who spoke while reacting to a story published by SaharaReporters on December 25, said that contrary to widespread belief, there was no time that the Presidency reprimanded her over abuse of office.
SaharaReporters had exclusively reported on Wednesday that the Office of the President had chided Farouq over abuse of office and employment of staff beyond the financial capacity of the ministry.
She was said to have refused to approve the payment for the National Home Grown School Feeding Program for Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue states, leading to the stoppage of the planned commencement of the programme in Lagos in October 2019.
According to SaharaReporters exclusive report, staff of the ministry also lamented Farouq’s overbearing exercise of power, claiming that she runs the ministry like an emperor.
But giving more insight into the situation of things, the minister said that she had carried out her duties without abusing the code of conduct guiding her office.
She said, “I operate an open door policy. Not at all was any senior staff of the President sent here to monitor; at no time did anyone from the Presidency reprimand me for the activities of the ministry.
“I have a chief of staff who is a government worker. Of course I have people working for me, I cannot do it alone. We need people to support us.
“And at no time was there any intervention of the Presidency in the payment of N-Power beneficiaries. There is a system in place and it is being followed.
“The ministry is just coming up, and we are even trying to find a suitable office space. We are working as a team, all the staff are being deployed from various MDAs, and we are working as a team.
“We are developing a strategic roadmap for the ministry and looking at the existing laws for the agencies under the ministry, we are coming up with a policy framework; all these things take time.
“I have been working for President Muhammadu Buhari for the last 17 years, so I am not just coming to be part of this government. I have been part and parcel of the movement.
“On the talk that I and President Buhari had plans to marry, it was a mere rumour and now we are beginning to understand where that emanated from.
“We were meant to be distracted but we have continued with our responsibilities as given by the President.
“I am not disputing the fact that I am close to President Buhari, having worked with him for this number of years but that talk was mere rumours.”
Speaking further, Farouq said that there was no time that she stopped payment for the Home Grown School Feeding Programme and that all social investment schemes under her ministry had continued to go on despite glaring hurdles.