Food security: Stakeholders back emergency declaration

STAKEHOLDERS in the Nigerian economy yesterday threw their weight behind President Bola Tinubu following his Thursday declaration of a state of emergency on food security.
Frontline parent body of farmers in the South West, Agbekoya, the Oluwo of Iwo, Osun State, Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi and a professor of Food Science and Technology, Christine Ikpeme, all hailed the President’s move yesterday.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a separate statement declared its support for the federal government’s palliatives to Nigerians to help them cope with economic constraints arising from the removal of petrol subsidy.

Presidential Adviser on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, Dele Alake, who spelt out details of the state of emergency on Thursday in Abuja, said the initiative entails, among others, all year round farming, creation of special purpose vehicles, especially the commodity board, to liberalise the food production value chain and the immediate activation of land-banks across the country.

The Agbekoya Society of Nigeria, the parent body of the Agbekoya Farmers Association, in a statement by its President, Dr. Adegbenro Ogunlana Agbekoya, and the Secretary-General, Chief Kamorudeen Okikiola, in Lagos commended the president’s vision and proactive measures to mitigate the food price crisis in the country.

The group described the initiative as a testament to Tinubu’s commitment to fostering a prosperous and resilient agricultural sector.

It said by implementing measures that addressed the root causes of rising food prices, the President had further demonstrated his dedication to promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

It added that it also demonstrated the President’s commitment to ensuring the availability of affordable, high-quality food for all.

It said: “The provision acknowledges the importance of collaborative efforts between the government and the agricultural community to address the underlying factors affecting food prices.

“It reflects an inclusive approach that fosters partnerships and encourages dialogue between all stakeholders involved in the agricultural value-chain.

“Moreover, Tinubu’s recognition of the agricultural sector’s significance and his commitment to its growth and development sends a positive message to farmers, agribusinesses, and other key players in the industry.

“This will further boost confidence and encourage investment in agricultural innovation, infrastructure and capacity building, ensuring long-term sustainability and competitiveness.”

The group offered to collaborate closely with the government in implementing and fine-tuning the process.

It added: “The commitment shown by the President demonstrates his determination to foster an environment that promotes agricultural productivity, market stability and affordable food prices.”

It asked all stakeholders to join hands in implementing the provision effectively, believing that it wouldn’t be business as usual for the agricultural cabal which had, in previous governments, usually hijack the process.

Oluwo: It’s a timely action

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Speaking to The Nation yesterday on the phone, the Oluwo said the President’s action could not have come at a better time than now “because anybody that wants to work needs adequate strength (food) to work.”

“It is really a good one and I really commend him for that,” he said

The policy, according to Oba Akanbi, “will protect farmers and teach herders about animal husbandry.”

He was of the view that the move would go a long way in taking care of the frequent clashes between farmers and herders, saying: “We have been living together with the Fulani for over 500 years, especially in Iwo here.

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“We have intermarried; you can’t even know who is a Fulani or who is a Yoruba.”

But he advised government to involve traditional rulers in the implementation of the policy.

His words: “It is not something that the federal government alone can do by itself. The government has to call the traditional rulers to call farmers and herders and talk to them, give them hope and the farmers will feel secure because the only threat to farmers are herders’ cows and the Fulani too wants his cows to feed because he doesn’t want them to die.

“The only grass that is available during the dry season is the farmers’ crops. So we have a problem and the only way to fix this problem is to listen to the advice of traditional rulers,that is to educate the herders so there will be security for the farmers.

Prof Ikpeme to FG: Let real farmers, not politicians, do the job

Prof. Christine Ikpeme of the University of Calabar advised the federal government to share the 500,000 hectares of land earmarked for the policy to real farmers and not those she labeled political farmers.

Ikpeme who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily said subsidised farming inputs should be given alongside the land.

“The land issue is a good step but then (regarding) the modalities of the farmers getting this land, there shouldn’t be any bottlenecks. The actual farmers should get it, not political farmers,” Ikpeme said.

“It all depends on how the farmers are going to get this land without undue stress, without undue bottlenecks for them to access these lands.

“Most times, the government means very well, but the implementation sometimes is wrong. We just wish and pray that actual farmers would get the land and the farming inputs that would be given.”

She added that there must be money for seedlings for the farmers, noting that the rural sector has to be given money for farming inputs at a highly subsidised rate.

Food policy good if well-implemented —Chukwu, Adamu

The Chief Executive Officer at Cowry Asset Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, said the move must be backed by conscious efforts geared towards addressing the prevailing insecurity situation in the nation’s food belts.

“For me, the key thing is that we need to look at the root cause of the insecurity issue in the country,” he said.

He added: “It’s not because we don’t have arable or fertile land or we are suffering from any drought. It’s principally because we are suffering from insecurity, particularly around the major food baskets in the country in the Northeast, Northwest and the Northcentral.

“If the President wants to incentivise food insecurity, he needs to fight the insurgency in those areas mentioned.

“Once we bring these regions of the country back into peaceful conditions, I believe we should have no problem with food production and availability of food.”

Also commenting on the new charge on food security, Dr. Kabiru Adamu, Managing Director of Beacon Consulting Limited, said: “I think it’s a very interesting development. It’s a long-term plan and I’m hoping that under that long-term plan there will be low-hanging fruit that would be achieved.

“We do have grain reserves for example. I’m not sure. I haven’t seen the whole content. Has there been a directive for those reserves to be released for food to be made available to the people?

“The long-term plan would be securing, for instance, everything that has to do with our requirements for food in the country so that at least the average Nigerian is able to afford food.”

IMF backs Tinubu on subsidy removal palliatives

Hailing Tinubu on subsidy removal palliatives yesterday, the IMF said the move would help beneficiaries cope with economic constraints arising from the removal of petrol subsidy.

IMF’s director, communication department, Julie Kozack, said the unification of the exchange rate regime was also a right step in the right direction.

According to Kozack, increasing well-targeted social spending would be critical to cushioning the impact of the removal of fuel subsidies on vulnerable citizens.

She added that strengthening revenue mobilisation through tax administration reforms was also essential to create fiscal space, reduce vulnerabilities and put public debt on a sound footing.

Kozack also stated that inflation in Nigeria is expected to increase in the coming months.

“Therefore, as a result, fiscal and monetary policy tightening, including reducing Central Bank financing of government fiscal deficits are needed to prevent a further escalation of inflation,” she said.

Nwifuru increases workers’ salary, orders recruitment of 1,454 employees

Ebonyi State Governor Francis Nwifuru yesterday gave approval for a pay rise for civil servants in the state to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.

He also gave the go ahead for the recruitment of 1,454 fresh hands to fill vacant positions in the civil service.

Information and Orientation Commissioner Jude Okpor told reporters that the decisions were taken at this week’s meeting of the state executive council.

Each civil servant will receive a rise of N10,000.

The commissioner also said the council set up committee to look into communal crises across the state with a view to resolving them while the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Grace Umezuruike was mandated to look into the finances of the Ebonyi State University (EBSU).

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