• Advocates say, ‘No food security without constitutional backing’
As prices of food items skyrocket due to production, storage, processing, and marketing challenges, lawmakers and policymakers have been called upon to make the right to food a human right in the constitution, without which there can be no food security and agribusiness development in Nigeria.
This appeal was contained in a memorandum, with number FIF 010920 (1), entitled: ‘The Need to Make the Right to Food a Fundamental Human Right in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’ and addressed to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Senate President/Chairman, Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Review of 1999 Constitution, National Assembly, Abuja, a copy of which The Guardian sourced.
The Farm and Infrastructure Foundation (FIF), one of the advocates, urged the committee to be positively disposed to recommending the Right to Food Bill currently pending before the Senate (SB Bill 240), in consideration of the attributes, values, and virtues of the bill.
The fulcrum of the bill requires amending the constitution in Chapter 2 (Directive Principles of State Policy, wherein not justiciable), and also amending the Constitution in Chapter 4 (Fundamental Human rights, wherein justiciable).
By moving the food security provision from chapter two to chapter four, citizens can better engage the government over failure to make food available and affordable by not providing requisites such as irrigation facilities, rural road networks, market, and other rural infrastructure, thereby influencing policy authorities to create an enabling environment and the productivity and security of the farm population (crop and livestock farmers alike); these being the responsibility of the government and connected to food production and availability in all parts of the country.
They propose that Mr President be mandated to produce and review on yearly basis an implementation strategy as a schedule to the bill, and to deliver an annual Food Situation Address to the National Assembly in accountability for the huge resources appropriated for the purpose, and in recognition of food security as the bedrock of national security.
The bill, it is argued, is geared towards the improvement of the policy environment for food security and agribusiness in terms of policy responsibility, accountability, transparency, and due process on the part of the government.