Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has advised the federal government to urgently address what he says is a looming food crisis in the country before it gets worse.
Abubakar in a statement titled, “Let Us Address this Looming Food Crisis before It becomes a calamity”, said he based his advice on the warning recently issued by the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO in the country.
He advised the government not to ignore the warning given by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations of a looming acute food crisis in Northern Nigeria.
He noted, “That dire warning should be seen and heard as a whistleblowing moment that ought to draw the focus of the federal government, being that Northern Nigeria is the food basket of the nation, and any famine there will have a national impact on the rest of the country and cross border impacts in the West African sub-region.”
The former Vice President lamented that the laissez-faire approach taken by the Federal Government to this most important issue is regrettable, emphasising that food security is a vital part of national security, and where this issue is not resolved, the resultant crisis may unsettle the nation and her immediate neighbours.
According to him, now is the time to proffer solutions, so that our countrymen and women do not starve in a land with so much prospective abundance.
He stressed that the major cause of the present and looming dearth of food is insecurity, saying that farmers and other agricultural value chain workers cannot go to their farms due to the crisis of insecurity.
Atiku said what ought to happen is that the federal and state governments should establish a Food Security Military Taskforce to work in farming clusters, to provide security for the nation’s farmers, adding that Nigeria must give confidence to their agriculture workers so that the sector can get on with the job of feeding the nation.
He added that the Federal and State governments ought to place a temporary moratorium on all loans to the agricultural sector in the affected states, by declaring a Force Majeure in the sector, saying that the country cannot expect small, medium and large scale farmers to service debts when they are not even able to access their farms and other businesses in the agricultural value chain.
He advised that the federal government intervenes by providing free seedlings and fertilisers to end-users so that the policy that worked to reduce hunger levels in Nigeria when Dr. Akinwumi Adesina introduced the e-wallet policy, saying that it is time to reintroduce and ramp up that scheme.
“If we cannot feed ourselves as a nation, we do not survive. This is the textbook definition of an emergency,” he explained.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar expressed hope that Nigeria can remove politics from this vital area of its national life and address this crisis before it becomes a calamity.