March 18, 2024

Proposed food security summit

Proposed food security summit

The Federal Government has fixed a national agriculture and food security summit for November this year in Calabar, Cross River State, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari.

We receive this news with mixed feelings for several reasons. We wonder why a summit on food security has to wait till November 2024, eighteen long months after the assumption of power by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration, given the emergency situation that high food costs and hunger have imposed on the people of this country.

An administration that was prepared for power would have a blueprint ready, which it would simply activate as soon as it assumed office. Rather than impose hardship on Nigerians with the implementation of the petrol subsidy removal one month ahead of time, Tinubu should have organised this national summit within his first few months in power, carrying all levels of government, the private sector, international partners and the citizenry along.

If that had happened, his recent flagging-off of the Food Security and Agricultural Mechanisation Programme organised by the Niger State Government in Minna, would have been part of the implementation process which would ripple throughout the country.

These inchoate, blind-grabs of policies are not exactly inspiring confidence or renewing hope. By November, a whole farming season would have been wasted, and the nation will be closer to a new season of politicking.

As far as the ordinary Nigerian is concerned, the two most pressing matters currently are hunger and insecurity. Government’s harsh economic policies have pushed the cost of daily staples beyond the reach of most Nigerians who are already choking from economic hardship. The desperation has driven some people to suicide and heinous crimes, including waylaying food trucks and looting warehouses.

Though the Nigerian Army and Air Force are doing their best to restore security in the country, the upsurge of mass abductions of people for ransom in Northern Nigeria shows we have not even scratched the problem beyond the surface.

It is trite knowledge that without bringing our security challenges under control, it will remain near-impossible for any meaningful agricultural activity to be initiated. Without restoring the security and territorial integrity of this nation, even the so-called agriculture and food summit of November 2024 will be a mere jamboree for a few public officials to “speak grammar” and line their pockets.

This laissez faire attitude to these matters of utmost national urgency must stop. Concerted actions to restore security and end hunger are emergency issues that cannot wait a day longer, especially at this outset of the farming season. Since these problems are national in outlook, we must adopt collective measures to tackle them because unity is strength.

The time to start is now.