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July 20, 2024

Senate Calls For Urgent Solution to Food Crisis in Nigeria 

The Nigerian Senate has called on the federal government to urgently address food insecurity in the country. 

This call was made during a plenary session on Tuesday following a motion presented by Senator Sunday Karimi, representing Kogi West.

Karimi highlighted a dramatic increase in the prices of basic foodstuffs such as rice, beans, tomatoes, and onions, which have surged by over 100%. He attributed this inflation to several factors, including insecurity, poor road conditions, the removal of fuel subsidies, and the devaluation of the naira. Karimi also decried the excessive charges imposed by food sellers, calling on the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Ministry of Agriculture to educate marketers about the potential consequences of their actions.

The senator expressed concerns that farming communities in border areas are exporting their produce to neighbouring countries rather than selling them domestically, thereby worsening the food crisis. He urged the federal government to address this issue urgently.

Supporting the motion, Senate Chief Whip Ali Ndume, representing Borno South, expressed concern that food insecurity has become a major challenge, particularly in the northern states. He urged the government to explore all possible measures to mitigate the crisis.

Senator Ahmed Wadada (SDP, Nasarawa West) noted that Nigerians have been patient despite the growing hunger. He commended the federal government for its policy of removing tariffs on food items, which he said is a step in the right direction.

Former Senate President Ahmed Lawan called on the federal government to implement proper measures to tackle food insecurity. Senate President Godswill Akpabio stressed the need for tariff exemptions on food items as a means to fight food insecurity and assured that the government would support farmers to ensure food availability.

Akpabio described the food situation as an emergency and emphasised the government’s responsibility to ensure the welfare and security of its citizens. He suggested that the Senate might summon the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, to discuss the crisis.

“We may have to summon the minister of agriculture, the Governor of the Central Bank, and all those involved to come to us because we want to make sure that we nip the issue in the bud,” Akpabio said.

Akpabio explained that the current food crisis was not caused by the present administration but was the result of years of insecurity. 

“It wasn’t caused by the current administration. It is the combination of at least 10 years of insecurity that stopped the farmers from going into their farms as a result of killings, kidnappings, and other forms of banditry, including the farmers-herders crisis. But here we are now, we must take emergency steps,” he stated.

He also highlighted the government’s efforts to ensure zero levies on imported food items and the distribution of fertilisers to enhance local production, aiming to stabilise the food market by the end of the year. 

“The food situation is an emergency. We must help our people, and part of it is to make sure that we are not just providing food for them but enabling them to plant so that by October/December, we have excess food in the market because Nigerians must feed. Everybody is concerned. The primary role of the government is to ensure the welfare and security of the citizens, and that is why we are here,” he added.

The Senate announced that the federal government intends to distribute 60 trucks of fertiliser to each state, which will be received by the state governors.

Additionally, members of the National Assembly will receive an allocation of fertiliser trucks to be distributed to their respective constituents.

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