Ibadan — Worried by the looming danger of food insecurity in Nigeria, former President Olusegun Obasanjo over the weekend in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, unveiled a new initiative tagged 'Zero Hunger' to clearly articulate what the country needs to do to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) just as he tasked the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, ban importation of vegetables, carrots, cucumber, lettuce and other fruits into the nation.
Obasanjo bared his mind at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan at the inaugural meeting of the 'Nigeria Zero Hunger Strategic Review' Committee comprising an assemblage of representatives of the World Food Program, African Development Bank, members of the Diplomatic Corps, captains of industry as well as technocrats drawn from both the public and private institutions across the country.
Addressing the forum, Chief Obasanjo, who is the convener of the initiative called for collective change of mind from all Nigerians insisting that a multi-stakeholder and multi-dimensional approach is highly desirable to achieve the goal of a zero hunger nation by 2025 ahead of the 2030 deadline given by the United Nations.
He declared: "Although the SDGs are laudable, the key to achieving them depends on implementation and our collective will. Let me reiterate that the task of attaining the SDGs cannot be left for the government alone, neither can it be left for the civil society nor the private sector. It is going to take the collective effort of each and every citizen of this great nation and our partners. It will require our collective change of mindset to at first identify the opportunities that abound. It is in this context that we have invited you to this meeting. We will be looking at the second goal of the SGDs which is Zero Hunger. Our main focus will be to clearly articulate what the country needs to do to achieve the SGDs."
The former President expressed worry that in spite of the present high rate of unemployment in Nigeria, the vegetables, cucumber, carrots, lettuce and other fruits being consumed in many hotels in the country are imported saying this is not only disgraceful to the economic sense of the nation but also annoying.
While calling for enduring measures that would further encourage increased local investment in food production, Chief Obasanjo charged the authorities to stop importation of European vegetables and fruits without further delay, in the overall interest of Nigerians.
Also speaking at the inaugural meeting, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole described the 'Zero Hunger' as not only a well-designed initiative but an enabler for other good things in the nation.
Specifically, the minister expressed the hope that it will help to facilitate the implementation of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition that was recently approved by the Federal Government.
In their respective contributions, the representative of the United Nations World Food Program, Stanlake Samkange and that of the African Development Bank, Chiji Ojukwu pledged their determination to partner the initiative with a view to eradicate hunger in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.