The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from Oxfam in Nigeria organized a One Day Stakeholders’ Forum on the Right to Food Legislation in Nigeria. The forum was held at the Bolton White Hotel, FCT, Abuja on 26th February 2013. The meeting had 53 participants comprising of representatives of members of relevant Committees of the National Assembly, including those on Agriculture, MDGs, environment and Women Affairs. The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, National Emergency Management Agency, National Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Environment, CSOs and representatives of the media were also in attendance.
The forum witnessed the presentation of goodwill addresses by Hon Munir Danagundi, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Honorable Nkoyo Toyo, member House Committee on health and MDGs. The key technical presentation was delivered by Ugochi Okpe, Lead Counsel of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on the ‘Legislation for the Right to Food in Nigeria: Prospect and Challenges’. The forum aimed at creating a platform for interaction among the major stakeholders from the Legislature, the Executive, Judiciary, Media and Civil Society to foster collaboration toward the achievement on the right to food legislation for citizens that will make for food availability, affordability and accessibility in Nigeria. The forum also had the objective of brainstorming and charting a way forward on the most pragmatic way of pursuing the enactment of a right to food legislation in Nigeria. The forum was participatory in nature and after exhaustive deliberations, participants made the following observation and recommendation:
- That the right to food is a derivative of the right to life and its fulfillment is indispensable to the realization of other rights including the right to education, health and work.
- That there is a low level of awareness among stakeholders and especially citizens about the meaning and scope of the right to food leading to erroneous belief even among decision makers of the fiscal implication of granting of such right on the government and resulting in deep reservations on their part
- That the on-going constitutional review process by the National Assembly did not create space for the right to food and has omitted discussion or public participation on the nature of a Bill of Rights in future new Nigeria constitution.
- That in spite of being a signatory to several international legal instruments and conventions that recognize the right to food, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Nigeria has not taken any steps to domesticate this right through legislation as required by these instruments.
- That a legislation guaranteeing the right to food is necessary to mandate successive regimes to adopt a national strategy, including appropriate economic, environmental and social policies and empower citizens to hold government accountable.
- That CSOs must embark on aggressive awareness creation activities to educate relevant stakeholders to allay their fears on the legislation and build a critical mass that will own the process of advocating for a legislation on the right to food in Nigeria
- That a two pronged approach of engaging the on-going constitutional review process, as well as, seeking the passage of a subsidiary legislation guaranteeing the right to food in Nigeria be pursued by stakeholders in a coordinated timely manner
- CSOs should mainstream the advocacy for the enactment of a right to food legislation in deliberate issue based campaigns by engaging political parties and prospective candidates to extract commitments
- Stakeholders should broaden strengthen collaborations and combine strengths to develop and implement evidence based advocacy, engage multiple levels of stakeholders, including sub-national players and enlist the support of regional bodies and international development partners to build the needed momentum in support of a right to food legislation in Nigeria
- The National Assembly should treat the right to good as priority and domesticate its principle through legislation in line with spirit of international conventions to which Nigeria is already a signatory and engage with multiple stakeholders for its realization in Nigeria
- Pending the passage of a right to food legislation in Nigeria, stakeholders should rely on existing international instruments to stimulate judicial activism to compel the government to fulfill the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the right to food especially among vulnerable groups and disadvantaged communities.
Participants thanked CISLAC and Oxfam Nigeria for providing the platform for the stakeholder’s forum as it would serve to further strengthen our engagement towards the attainment of right to food legislation in Nigeria. They also expressed commitment to provide support on follow up activities that would seek to make the right to food a reality in Nigeria.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Abuja
Laz-Eke Millicent (Mrs.)
Deputy Clerk House Committee on Women Affairs,
National Assebly, Abuja
Barr. Ugochi Okpe
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Lagos
Ms. Aver Gavar
Deputy Director Legal
Human Right Commissio, Abuja
Mrs. C.I Onyemerekwe
House Committee on Agriculture
National Assembly, Abuja
Dr. Uzodinma Adirieje
Executive Director of Afrihealth Optonet Association, Owerri
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