July 10, 2024

Senate urges FG to urgently tackle impending food insecurity


The Senate has urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, initiate measures to tackle the impending food insecurity in the country.

It also urged the government to outline the measures implemented to combat the situation and to address Nigerians concerns regarding it.

The Senate’s resolution followed adoption of a motion on the urgent need to address food insecurity and market exploitation of consumables in Nigeria at plenary.

The motion was sponsored by Sen. Sunday Karimi (APC-Kogi) and Sen. Ali Ndume (APC-Borno).

Leading the debate, Karimi said that in the last few months, the price of goods and household consumables in Nigeria had been at an all-time high. 

This, he said, was leading to a high rate of inflation, weakening purchasing power, and affecting the living conditions of vast majority of Nigerians.

He said the latest data by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that food inflation in the country skyrocketed to 40.66 per cent on a year-on-year basis, representing a significant increase from the 24.82 per cent recorded in May 2023. 

Karimi said the current market price of food items such as beans, maize, rice paddy, yam, tomatoes, and onions, which initially rose by about 40 per cent after removal of petroleum subsidy had increased to between 100 per cent and 300 per cent with no attributable reason for the increase in prices.

He said insecurity in food-producing regions, bad roads, increase in cost of transportation, and depreciation of the value of the naira had been identified as possible factors contributing to increase in price of food items and other consumables.

He, however, said that greater percentage of the increase in prices of food items and consumables were not only responsible for the factors but rather the greed of merchants, traders, and retailers to make supernormal profits.

“Note that there is a general attitude of get rich quickly or get rich by all means.

“This is leading many Nigerians to jettison being their brother’s keeper and exploiting one another to make abnormal profits.

“This attitude has been justified on the basis that many members of the political class, technocrats, and corporate elites have helped themselves with public funds without any repercussions in Law.

”Nigerian traders have thus resorted to price overcharging to maximise profits.”

He said there were reports that the farming communities in the border regions with other countries, preferred to sell their food items abroad to neighbouring countries, thus increasing local food insecurity.

He expressed worry that efforts made by the government to arrest consistent increase in food inflation was yet to yield the desired results.

Karimi said there was a need to be more pragmatic about addressing food insecurity, curb herder-farmer crises, kidnapping for ransom, and terrorism.

This, he said, will ensure development of a viable national commodity board to regulate price of grains.

He said efforts should be made to ensure elimination of artificial contributions to food and commodity inflation in Nigeria.

Sen.Ali Ndume (APC–Borno), who seconded the motion said recent reports indicated that Nigeria might face food insecurity, adding that people were hungry as many farmers no longer had access to their farms because of insecurity.

He said the lawmakers needed to take urgent steps as representatives of the people as prices of food were on the high side.

In his contribution, Sen. Ahmed Lawan (APC-Yobe) lamented that Nigerians now struggle to have just a meal a day.

According to him, the silos are empty, meaning that the federal government would have to make frantic efforts to import food.

He said the national assembly must engage the executive to take immediate steps to avert the looming food insecurity.

Sen. Ahmed Wadada (SDP-Nasarawa), however, commended the federal government for the recent decision to relax import duties and taxes on food items to be imported into the country.

He said the issue of food prices was a serious matter, adding that Nigerians were patient people.

He urged lawmakers to do whatever was required at their various levels to add value to food production in the country.

President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio, said food issues increased when farmers were denied access to their farmlands due to the activities of bandits.

He said the abandonment of farms by farmers due to insecurity had been a long-standing, worrisome matter for far too long a time.

He urged the government to encourage farmers and farming activities, especially during this period.

Akpabio said he was informed by Committee Chairman on Agriculture that the federal government had provided 60 trucks of fertiliser to each state. 

According to him, senators and House of Representatives members will receive between one and two trucks for onward distribution to their constituencies.

This, he said, was to ensure farming for improved production of food by Nigerians involved in agriculture. 

He said efforts must be made to improve farming activities while also commending the federal government for looking in the direction of tax and duty exemptions for imported food items into Nigeria. (NAN)