September 10, 2020

Food Security: NESG demands overhauling of mgt of agric sector

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By Prince Okafor

Following the huge gap in meeting food requirements, subsequently leading to an increasing hunger across the nation, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), has asked the Federal Government to completely overhaul the management of the Agriculture sector and all related sectors.

This according to the think thank group is expedient to help Nigeria acquire more value for its investments.

The NESG demand was contained in a document jointly signed by the Chairman, Board of Directors, NESG, Asue Ighodalo, and the Chief Executive Officer, Laoye Jaiyeola.

According to the document, “Since the inception of this Administration, Agriculture and the need to ensure Zero Hunger for Nigerians has received considerable attention.

“However, despite the budgetary allocations and huge sums of money disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, a huge gap remains in meeting the food requirements, which has resulted in increasing hunger among the Nigerian populace.

“Evidently, the issues are beyond money and therefore, require a complete overhaul of the management of, and support for the Agriculture sector and all related sectors – with a view to getting more value for our investments.

“The NESG expresses its concern about the high level of insecurity across the country and its impact on the business environment and investment flows, which has contributed massively to the current food crisis, unemployment, poverty, increasing community clashes, rising bloodshed and the absence of peace and tranquillity in the land.

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“Therefore, we again join the call by all well-meaning Nigerians, for Government to critically re-evaluate our security architecture and take all necessary actions to assure and safeguard the safety of all Nigerian citizens and residents. ”

On the rising level of poverty, unemployment, underemployment The NESG stated that “With grave concern the rising level of poverty, unemployment and underemployment in our country which is predominant among our young people and has been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 and the slump in commodity prices.

“We urge that while efforts at creating short-term jobs across the country is commendable, a lot more effort must be channelled towards re-skilling, retooling and reviewing our school curriculum.”

“A focused approach to vocational studies must also be undertaken, and all our 13.2M children (Pre COVID-19) out of school must be brought into the school system.

“We note the nation’s resort to borrowing (either domestic or international), and quantitative easing by the monetary authorities to fund the large deficit which has now been made worse by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since these specific actions are not sustainable in the medium to long term, the Group urges government to urgently, consider a strong communicating strategy that engages the people and prepares them for tougher times ahead whilst the current reforms take effect. The current business as usual disposition is not sustainable.

“The NESG notes the frequent expression by government to work with the private sector in nation building efforts, but observes that a lot more work needs to

be done on both sides to obtain the best benefits of such collaboration. It is therefore important that concrete steps must be taken to address the mutual distrust and build institutions that work regardless of persons.

“In consonance with our strong commitment to partner with government in ensuring an appropriate, efficient and transparent environment for doing business in our country, the NESG pledges its commitment and the commitment of its other private sector counterparts to work effectively and transparently with government in combating these challenges, and thereby assure a growing, strong, vibrant efficient, inclusive, secure and healthy economy.

“All hands must be on deck in collaboration, as we work hard and without prejudice to achieve the Nigeria of our dreams. We have no other nation that we can call our own,” the document added.