Take urgent measures to fight food insecurity – Senate to FG

Sharon EboesomiJuly 9, 20246 min

“Nobody should say they are going to distribute food because even our silos are empty.”

Take measures to fight food insecurity in the country - Senate to FG

The Senate has urged the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, take measures to fight the current food insecurity in the country, outline measures to combat the situation, and address the nation on the steps taken. 

This is as the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, disclosed that the government has commenced deployment of 60 trucks of fertilisers to each of the 36 states in the country. He also mentioned that each senator will receive 2 fertilisers each while Members of the House of Representatives will receive 1 each as an emergency solution to address the problem of food scarcity in the country. 

This was sequel to the adoption of a motioned sponsored by Sunday Karimi (APC, Kogi West) and co-sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) during Tuesday’s plenary.  

Presenting the motion, Karimi lamented that in the last few months, the price of goods and household consumables have skyrocketed in the country, leading to a high rate of inflation, weakened buying power, and general worsening of living conditions of the vast majority of Nigerians.

He mentioned that data by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that food inflation has skyrocketed to 40.66% on a yearly basis as against 24.82% recorded in May 2023.

He said: “The current market price of food items such as beans, maize, rice paddy, yam, tomatoes, and onions which initially rose by about 40% after the removal of petroleum subsidy has now increased to over 100% to 300% without any attributable reason for the increase in price. Although insecurity in food-producing regions, bad roads, increase in the cost of transportation attributable to the removal of fuel subsidy and depreciation of the value of naira, are possible factors that have contributed to the increase in price of food items, household commodities, and consumables. The percentage of increase in cost of transportation and some other factors is significantly less than the percentage increase in the current prices of goods all over the country.”

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He expressed concern that a greater percentage of the country’s food price increases are also the result of retailers, traders, and merchants penchant to make extraordinary profits while rationalising price increases on the depreciation of the naira against the dollar. In his opinion, the prevalent mindset in Nigeria of “get rich quickly” or “get rich by all means” has caused many people to abandon “being their brother’s keeper” and take advantage of one another in order to gain unjust profits.

This attitude has been justified on the basis that many members of the political class, technocrats, and corporate elites have helped themselves with public funds without any repercussions in law. Nigerian traders have thus resorted to price gouging to maximize profits. There are reports that farming communities in the border regions with other countries prefer to sell their food items abroad rather than domestically thereby increasing local food insecurity,” he added.

The motion’s co-sponsor, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), emphasised the suffering that Nigerians endured and urged his colleagues to make efforts to improve the situation. 

He said, “People are hungry and many cannot go to their farms. As it is now, a bag of rice is about N100,000, a bag of maize the same thing, even tomatoes and onion. As representatives of the people, we need to do something or say something. This is the first time that Nigeria is included in countries that are likely to face very very high food crises.”

Lamenting over the sufferings faced by citizens due to the food crises, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) said, “I have seen first hand, people especially the ones who are not in the civil service and do not have any business at all, suffering to have food at least once a week. Nobody should say they are going to distribute food because even our silos are empty, so it means we have to import food, and if we must import food, we need foreign exchange.

“Currently, there are four countries including Sudan and some others that are facing very serious insecurity. Nigeria is added to this list this year by the International Rescue Committee as one of the spots for food insecurity action against hunger. World Food Program also indicated that over 32 million people are expected to face a critical hunger crisis and emerging levels between June and August,” he added.

In his remark, Senate President Godswill Akpabio disclosed that chairman senate committee on agriculture, Senator Saliu Mustapha, had just informed him that plans are already underway to distribute fertilisers in order to cushion the food crises in the country. 

Recall that OrderPaper had at the beginning of the week through its Legislative Intelligence Forcast Entry (LIFE) predicted that the National Assembly will raise a motion that will address the dramatic rise of food prices and the hardship experienced in the country. 

Sharon Eboesomi

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