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May 27, 2024
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‘Prioritizing Nutrition Crucial  Part of Nigeria’s Food Security Drive’ – VP Shettima

Vice-President Kashim Shettima has unveiled a decisive plan of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration to improve nutrition across the country,emphasizing that prioritizing nutrition is part of Nigeria’s food security drive.

with a rallying call to faith and traditional leaders to champion the effort in their communities.

While speaking on Tuesday at a high-level dialogue on nutrition at the State House, Abuja, VC Shettima said Nigeria’s future readiness hinges not just on food abundance but on the nourishing quality of its food supply.

At the one-day dialogue themed ‘Faith Leaders as Catalysts for Enhanced Human Capital Through Nutrition’, organized by the National Council on Nutrition and the World Bank-assisted Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria [ANRiN] Project, Shettima declared: “We must proclaim to the world that our commitment to producing food of unparalleled richness is not rhetoric.”

“This gathering is a solemn pledge to safeguard our well-being and preserve the legacy of generations yet to come.”

He then appealed directly to the religious and traditional figures in attendance, calling them “prime cultural influencers” and a “gateway to a Nigeria defined by mutual understanding, peace, unity and social cohesion”.

He reaffirmed President Tinubu’s commitment to prioritizing nutrition as part of Nigeria’s food security drive.

“President Tinubu has demonstrated his commitment to prioritizing nutrition as an integral component of our quest for food sufficiency. This is our inspiration to implement quality, cost-effective nutrition services.

“From providing support to pregnant and lactating women to ensuring the well-being of adolescent girls and children under five years of age, President Tinubu’s vision has propelled us towards a future where every Nigerian has access to the nourishment they need to thrive,” he said. 

He pointed to initiatives like the Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) programme as vital efforts to scale up nutrition interventions nationwide.

Shettima however stressed that the government cannot succeed alone, adding that: “We depend on the support and guidance of those who wield influence within our communities to drive this change.”

According to him, faith and traditional leaders should learn to champion proper nutrition practices in their spheres, integrating nutrition education into places of worship and cultural gatherings.

“Your influence is indispensable. We believe that regardless of the quality of ideas we bring to the table, our efforts will fall short without your participation and endorsement.

“This is an avenue to reassure you that we are committed to more than just talk; we will take tangible action by reaching out to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including pregnant women, children and the elderly,” he added. 

Shettima thanked federal ministries and partners like the World Bank for supporting the nutrition drive in Nigeria, adding that: “Together, let us stand as beacons of hope, leading the charge towards a healthier and more prosperous tomorrow for all.”

Earlier in his own remarks, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, said malnutrition and related challenges have over the years negatively impacted human capital development, requiring accelerated interventions.

He said the efforts and interventions of the National Economic Council chaired by the vice-president and the engagement with faith-based leaders, among other initiatives, are testimonies that Nigeria has the institutional mechanism to combat hunger and malnutrition with its associated challenges.

Speaking at the event was also the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, who said the engagement with faith-based leaders was not just a dialogue but a clarion call for action to address one of society’s most disturbing challenges.

Pate then called on religious and traditional leaders in the country to leverage their network and influence in society to support the government in combating hunger and malnutrition, describing faith-based leaders as the backbone of their communities.

Also in their separate remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Most Rev. Daniel Okoh, vowed the commitment of their communities and congregations to the efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition in the country, stating that their presence at the event underscored their loyalty to the campaign.

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