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FG should start initiatives to curb hunger

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By Abiodun Okunloye

TEFAP will provide food purchasing support to those with low or no income.

The Senate has expressed worry over the prevalent hunger issues in the nation and has recommended the implementation of a food stamps initiative by the Federal Government to alleviate the impacts of food insecurity for the time being. The Red Chamber urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to collaborate with various partners, including the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, to implement the Temporary Food Assistance Programme known as TEFAP, which was launched a few years ago.

Also, the need to introduce the program was emphasised to develop feasible plans and effective methods for executing the program. These decisions were made after a proposal put forth by Senate Chief Whip, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume of APC, Borno South, seconded by Senator Saliu Mustapha of APC, Kwara Central, and supported by the majority of senators during the plenary session. The Food Stamps program offers additional support for purchasing food to individuals with low or no income, ensuring they can maintain their health and nutrition.

About 26.5 million individuals will face food security challenges.

Ndume brought forward the projection that was made during the unveiling of the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé Analysis on Food Insecurity that by 2024, approximately 26.5 million individuals in Nigeria are anticipated to face significant challenges with regard to food security. His explanation for the forecast is easily understood, as there are various signs such as ongoing conflicts nationwide, effects of climate change, increasing inflation, and rising prices of necessities and non-essentials due to the devaluation of the Naira in the exchange market.

Observing the discontent of numerous hungry and enraged Nigerians, he pointed out that their frustrations and anger have spilt over onto the streets of various cities nationwide as they protest against the recent surge in food costs. Ndume highlighted how Food Stamps have been providing assistance to those in need in countries like the United States for nearly 90 years. These government-issued coupons are given to low-income individuals to help alleviate the struggles faced by the less fortunate and those with lower incomes.

Food, higher wages and better work support should be prioritised.

He emphasised the importance of implementing well-established public assistance programs in addition to demands for higher wages and better work support in order to combat food insecurity effectively. He highlighted the urgency of providing immediate food support nationwide as outlined in the motion. Senator Abba Moro, the Minority Leader in the Senate of PDP, Benue South, emphasised the timeliness of the motion, stating that addressing the issue of vulnerable individuals in his district has always been challenging. He expressed optimism that introducing food stamps would provide much-needed assistance to those in need.

Senator Sadiq Umar of the APC party in Kwara North also emphasised the importance of ensuring that only the deserving individuals receive food assistance. He stressed the urgency of initiating the programme without delay. Infrastructure should be established to facilitate the distribution of food stamps, he added. Meanwhile, Senator Solomon Adeola, representing APC in Ogun West, pointed out that while financial aid is being given to the needy, food stamps play a crucial role and should not be overlooked.

Related Article: Red Cross, Ecobank launch hunger relief aid

Moreover, Senator Sani Musa from Niger East, a member of the APC, emphasised the significance of the motion in enhancing food security for the nation. During the plenary session presided over by Deputy Senate President Senator Jibrin Barau, it was also acknowledged that the proposed program has the potential to alleviate the hardships faced by the Nigerian populace. Senator Barau affirmed the Senate’s commitment to addressing matters that benefit all citizens. The motion put forward by Ndume has received praise from all members of the Senate.

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