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April 17, 2024

Senate Pushes for Food Stamps to Tackle Hunger

The Senate, on Tuesday, February 27th, called on the federal government to implement a Nigerian version of the food stamps program to alleviate the impact of food insecurity and shortages in the nation.

Additionally, the red chamber directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to collaborate with development partners and relevant stakeholders. This notably includes the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, which initiated the Temporary Food Assistance Programme (TEFAP) a few years ago.

“This is with a view to working out practicable templates and implementable modalities for the actualization of the program,” the Senate stated.

These resolutions followed the Senate’s consideration and adoption of a motion titled: “Introduction of food stamps in Nigeria as an interim measure to address imminent food insecurity in the country.” The motion was sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume (APC – Borno South) and co-sponsored by Senator Mustapha Saliu (APC – Kwara Central).

In his lead debate, Ndume highlighted that the Senate acknowledged the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé Analysis on food insecurity, which projected that approximately 26.5 million people in Nigeria would face high levels of food insecurity in 2024.

He emphasized that this projection is attributed to various factors, including ongoing conflicts, the impacts of climate change, escalating inflation, and the rising costs of both food and essential non-food items due to the depreciation of the Naira in the foreign exchange market.

Ndume expressed concern, noting that many hungry and frustrated Nigerians have been demonstrating on the streets in various cities across the country in response to the recent increase in food prices.

He stated that the Senate is aware that other countries, like the United States of America, have used food stamps, government-issued coupons given to low-income and non-income individuals that can be redeemed for food, “since 1933 to date as a measure to alleviate the hardships and sufferings of the poor, less privileged, and low-income earners.”

Ndume expressed his belief that calls for wage increases and work support alone cannot guarantee an effective solution to food insecurity without the introduction of a time-tested public assistance program, as proposed in the motion, with a particular emphasis on immediate food support across the country.

Senators supported the motion in their contributions.

Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong commended the initiative but demanded that measures be put in place to prevent abuse.

Senator Abba Moro stated that “there is no better time than now to devise ways to deal with food insecurity. There is a dire need for us to provide a system that is foolproof to provide for ordinary Nigerians. Let us give serious thought to this document and encourage the Executive to adopt it as a working document.”

Senator Suleiman Sadiq (APC – Kwara North) said: “This is very relevant, and we should encourage the President. But we should ensure that people don’t take advantage of it. We should have a foolproof program to ensure that only those who need the food get it.”

Senator Solomon Adeola (APC – Ogun West) called for the deployment of modern technology to curb potential abuses.

“The question is how do we achieve this for over 200 million people? Our data must be in place, to ensure that the real vulnerable Nigerians get it. I am in full support of this to take care of the vulnerable Nigerians.”

The Senate approved the two motions when they were put to a voice vote by Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, who presided over the plenary session during the debate on the motion.

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