Senate urges FG to urgently tackle impending food insecurity

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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 government to outline measures put in place to combat the situation and address Nigerians on it.

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

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

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

This, he said was leading to a high rate of inflation, weakening purchasing power and affecting 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 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, depreciation of the value of 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, 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 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, saying that 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 tax on food items to be imported into the country.

He said the issue of prices of food 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 the food issues increased when farmers were denied access to their farmlands due to activities of bandits.

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

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

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

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, duty exemption for imported food items into Nigeria. (NAN) 

By Kingsley Okoye

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