Untangling a cruel misrepresentation of Bauchi Governor’s wife’s philanthropy

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By Abubakar Salisu

It is simply heartless and insensitive for a news medium in the cadre of Sahara Reporters to make a callous mistake in a manner it misrepresented a clean-hearted and grass-rooted gesture to the rural women in Bauchi State. It is almost juvenile for the news medium to descend to such low without cursory checks to ameliorate rudimentary mistakes.

Sahara Reporters published that the wife of the governor lof Bauchi State distributed pure water sachets as relief materials to rural women in the state.

A contemptuous lie.

In actuality, what was distributed through the first lady’s foundation – Al-Muhibbah –  were start-up materials for rural women who had expressed interest in starting businesses of their own. Many of the women expressed interest in starting up ‘pure’ water retail business, some preferred flour-grinding business, etc. Flour grinding machines were distributed following a training session on how to operate them. Bags of water were distributed to the women as requested by them.  Others were trained on other skills and given cash.

[Inspite of this], Sahara Reporters opted for a cruel comedy. The publishers chose to highlight the distribution of sachet water to score comical points. A shame.

As a caveat, the first lady of Bauchi State, Hajiya (Dr) Aisha Bala Mohammed, founded the Al-Muhibbah Foundation 13 years ago, with offices located across the regions of Nigeria and in Ohio, USA. She has used the foundation for philanthropy over the years to benefit rural women and children. Al-Muhibbah Foundation (AMF) is a non-governmental organisation established to serve as means of an integrated life support for the general well-being of the less-privileged in the society, especially women, children and the youth; addressing their needs. Al-Muhibbah Foundation implements its activities at the grass roots, using community-based approach.

Through Al-Muhibbah Foundation, over 10 ambulances were donated to various local governments in Bauchi, as well as in Abuja. The foundation pays tuition of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), distributes educational materials, rehabilitates schools and trains teachers – especially those who teach children with special needs – donates drugs and medical equipment to hospitals and healthcare centers and pays the medical bills of those who can ill afford to.

On June 12, 2020, the foundation visited Makeran Shuwa IDPs’ Camp to provide relief items to the IDPs. Food, clothing /footwear, entrepreneurial items aimed at empowering women, were amongst the things donated. The number of households in the camp was 90, with a population of 850 (women and children being the majority).

Through the years, the first lady has engaged in countless philanthropic gestures. Her experience has served her well. Most of her efforts have become grassroots’ based, rather than mere donation of items without knowing the real needs of the recipients. She has become sensitive to knowing the needs of the recipients, prior to embarking on distribution of palliatives and/or relief items.

On the issue around the Sahara Reporters’ cruel representation:

On the day in question, Al-Muhibbah Foundation empowered the people based on what they had requested. Before the visit by the foundation and subsequent empowerment which was misrepresented by Sahara Reporters, officers of the foundation were sent to the communities to ask the people (particularly the women) what they wanted and the people were given precisely what they requested. Some people asked for bags of sachet water to start their water business, rather than source startup capital on credit, and they were given. Others asked for a flour machine. Those who requested flour machines were trained [on how to handle them] and the machines were handed over to them. Those who wanted cash to start-up got cash; 150 of them. All these happened yesterday.

The foundation also went on a medical outreach – with over 100,000 free medicines for children.

On the same day in Alkaleri local government in Bauchi, the foundation commissioned a skill acquisition centre for 50 women in sewing, knitting, salon services and the use of the computer to encourage the women to embrace information technology. Still, yesterday, the foundation flagged off a ‘Not Too Late to Learn’ programme for older women to get them back to school. Recently, in partnership with Fidelity Bank, over 3,000 women were catered for in Misau LGA under another medical outreach programme. All these were done under the Al-Muhibbah Foundation. So, what was Sahara Reporters writing?

Also, check the Foundation’s website for more: https://www.almuhibbahfoundation.com/

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