South-West Governors Plan Template For Region’s Food Security

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The South-West Governors’ Forum has directed their respective states’ commissioners for agriculture to jointly develop a comprehensive agricultural template that would leverage each state’s comparative advantage to expand food production and development in the region.

“To expand food production and agricultural development, the Forum also directed their respective States’ Commissioners for Agriculture to immediately come together and develop a comprehensive agricultural template that would leverage on each State’s comparative advantage” Babajide Sanwo-Olu stated in the 11-point resolution adopted at the forum’s meeting in Lagos.

They also renewed the call for the creation of state police to assist in curbing insecurity which has driven the food crisis in the country.

These are the major highlights of the four-hour meeting of the governors from the region comprising Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Lucky Aiyedatiwa (Ondo), Ademola Adeleke (Osun), Biodun Oyebanji (Ekiti) and the host, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).

At the meeting during which Sanwo-Olu, the host, was unanimously elected to lead the Forum as chairman, following the death of the former Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was the regional caucus chairman, the governors dwelt on regional economic integration, food production and regional security.

The decision of the governors to have an agriculture template for the region may have been informed by the warning from the United Nations that acute food insecurity is set to increase in magnitude and severity in 18 hunger “Hotspots”, among them Nigeria.
In a report released last week, the UN spotlighted the urgent need for assistance to prevent famine in Gaza and the Sudan, and further deterioration in the devastating hunger crises in Haiti, Mali, and South Sudan.

It also warned of the lingering impact of El Niño and the looming threat of La Niña that risks bringing further climate extremes that could upend lives and livelihoods.

The report found that many hotspots face growing hunger crises and highlights the worrying multiplier effect that simultaneous and overlapping shocks are having on acute food insecurity as conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks continue to drive vulnerable households into food crises.

Nigeria currently faces a severe food crisis, occasioned by conflict, insecurity, rising inflation, and the impact of the climate crisis. An estimated 26.5 million people across the country, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), have been projected to face acute hunger in the June-August 2024 lean season, a significant increase from the 18.6 million people who were food insecure at the end of 2023.

This situation is particularly dire in Northeast Nigeria, where about 4.4 million people in the states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe will require food assistance during the same period, with over 1 million people facing emergency levels of hunger.

Another issue on their agenda is security across the region. They pointed out that the South-West had been relatively peaceful in the Southern part of the country but renewed their call for the creation of State Police to strengthen further, the safety in the region.

They agreed to forge security cooperation to enhance economic development and free movement within the region, as they also sought more collaboration between security agencies and the Western Nigeria Security Network, known as Amotekun Corps.

The Forum commended the House of Representatives and members of the Southwest caucus in the National Assembly for their efforts at passing the South-West Development Commission Bill, urging the upper chamber of the federal parliament to speed up the bill passage.

Further, in the 11-point resolution adopted, Sanwo-Olu said, “The Southwest Governors’ Forum, at its meeting today, June 10, 2024, deliberated extensively on contemporary issues in the South-West States and resolved to commend President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on the groundbreaking of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road, and the proposed Lagos to Sokoto road. We, however, encourage the Federal Government to rehabilitate other federal infrastructure in the region.

On lingering disagreement on Minimum Wage, the Forum supported the efforts of the Federal Government, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Organised Private Sector to resolve the wage dispute, urging continued engagement with the Labour Union.

The Governors said they believed the outcome of the negotiations for better wages would reflect true fiscal federalism and hailed the Federal Government’s efforts on exploration policies on mineral resources but called for collaboration with States to grant leases to investors.