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Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:32

Hardship: Senate urges FG to introduce food stamps to curb hunger



The Senate on Tuesday, February 27, urged the federal government to introduce the Nigeria version of the food stamps programme as an interventionist measure to cushion the effects of food insecurity/shortage in the country.
This is even as the red chamber mandated the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to liaise with development partners and other relevant stakeholders, especially the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, which introduced Temporary Food Assistance Programme (TEFAP), few years ago.

“This is with a view to working out practicable templates and implementable modalities for the actualisation of the programme,” Senate said.

These resolutions of the Senate followed its consideration and adopted of a motion titled: “Introduction of food stamps in Nigeria as an interim measure to address imminent food insecurity in the country” sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume (APC – Borno South) and co-sponsored by Senator Mustapha Saliu (APC – Kwara Central).

Ndume in his lead debate, said the Senate has noted that at the unveiling of the October 2023 Cadre Harmonise Analysis on food insecurity, it was projected that in 2024, Nigeria is expected to see about 26.5 million people, grappling with high level of food insecurity.

He further noted that the reason for the above projection was not far-fetched, “as several indicators, which include but not limited to the ongoing conflicts across the country, climate change impacts, escalating inflation as witnessed in recent time, and rising costs of both food and essential non-food commodities, due to fall in value of Naira in exchange market.”

He said he is worried that many hungry and angry Nigerians have been expressing their frustration and anger over the recent increase in food prices by demonstrating on the streets in several cities across the country.

According to him, the Senate is also aware that in other countries, like the United States of America, Food Stamp which is a government-issued coupon that is given to low-income and non-income persons and is redeemable for food, “have been used since 1933 to date as a measure to cushion the resultant hardships and sufferings on the poor/less privileged as well as low-income earners.”

He expressed concern that the clamour for wage increase and work support cannot alone guarantee a more effective way of addressing food insecurity without the introduction of time-tested public assistance programme, “as contemplated by this motion with particular emphasis on the need for immediate food support across the country.”

Senators in their contribution supported the motion.

On his part, Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong, described the initiative as laudable.

He however demanded that measures be put in place to guide against abuse.

Senator Abba Moro noted that “there is no better time than now to devise ways to deal with food insecurity.

“There is dire need for us to provide a system that is fool proof to provide for ordinary Nigerians. Let us give serious thought to this document and encourage the Executive to adopt it as a working document.”

Senator Suleiman Sadiq (APC – Kwara North) said: “This is so apt and we should encourage Mr. President. But we should ensure that people don’t take advantage of it. We should have a fool proof programme to ensure that only those who need the food get it.”

Senator Solomon Adeola (APC – Ogun West) called for deployment of modern technology to curb potential abuses.

“The question is how do we achieve this for over 200million population. Our data must be in place, to ensure that the real vulnerable Nigerians get it. I am in total support of this to take care of the vulnerable Nigerians.”

Senators approved the two prayers of the when they were put to voice vote by Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin over presided over plenary during debate on the motion.

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