Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A non-governmental organisation, Farm and Infrastructure Foundation (FIF), has decried lack of access to food by several Nigerians as a result of what it described as deliberate policies of government that tend to undermine food security and the right of every citizen to food.
As such, the Foundation said plans were underway to mobilise over 10 million Nigerians to the National Assembly to draw attention of the people’s representatives to the deliberate lack of access of several Nigerians to food.
The foundation said there is already a bill to amend relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution to make provisions for right to food and food security in Nigeria, before the National Assembly.
At a one-day policy dialogue on the right to food held in Asaba, Delta State, convener of the FIF, Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola said freedom from hunger is the critical fourth step of development which is yet to be recognized in Nigeria, adding that man cannot talk of development when he is not free from hunger.
Speaking on the theme of the forum: ‘The Notion of Food as a Human Right in Nigeria’, Ayoola, a Professor of Agricultural Economics and Policies submitted that “the right to food is very sacrosanct and the failure to guarantee this right is the bane of development.
“After right to life, the next thing is right to food. When God created man and gave him the right to life, the next thing God did was to provide food. Even in pregnancy, the foetus has the right to food.”
He regretted that though Nigeria is signatory to international protocols and conventions on right to food, the leaders of the country “have deliberately refused to guarantee this right for the citizens. We have refused to prioritize right to food and food security.
“Food security is not an ordinary obligation of government, it is a mandate of the people to go government and demand this right. Food security is an obligation by mandate of the people.”
Prof. Ayoola however pointed out that the denial of the right to food can be remedied as it is “actionable if somebody or an institution denies you the right to food. It is justiceable, hence, the denial of right to food is remediable.”
Participants at the forum who were drawn from government institutions, civil society organizations, agricultural unions, the media amongst others, advocated the need for government to respect the right to food when formulating policies.