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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on February 1, 2017, inaugurated Presidential Task Force on Food Security. It showed, as ever, the seriousness of the Buhari-led administration to make effective change in the lives of the common masses, but there were different interpretations to the mandate of the task force.
Chief of the interpretations was “price fixing.” The media went agog with the news that the Federal Government was ready to fix prices of food items.
Disturbed by misinterpretation of the mandate of the task force, Acting President Osinbajo on February 2 held the first meeting with the members of task force at the State House, Abuja.
Members of the Food Security task force include Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah; and Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
Others are Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu; Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Representative from Office of the Chief of Staff to the president; and Representative from Office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals.
The two major mandates of the task force are: To explore and recommend means of urgently resolving some of the bottlenecks and challenges contributing to the increase in food prices across the country; and to ensure smooth and steady flow of produce from farms to markets, and bring down the added costs responsible for escalating food prices, ultimately bringing needed relief to Nigerians.
The government meant well for the country, but at this time of Nigeria’s economic throes I don’t think the most important thing is constituting food security task force.
Instead of constituting any task force, the Federal Government should task the minister of transport to make all federal roads motorable, and also empower state governments to do the same. That way, farm produce would get to where they are in high demand.
Distribution of fertilizers and farming incentives to politicians who know nothing about farming should stop. Most times the politicians in turn sell the free fertilizers or subsidized farming implement to core farmers at exorbitant prices.
Real farmers are majorly domiciled at the rural areas; they should be located and given the necessary incentives so as to boost production.
There had been mouth-service to local refineries. The government should aggressively move to make local refineries functional, and bring down the price of fuel as promised during campaigns.
Cost of transporting farm produce to the points of purchase determines the selling price. The higher the cost of transportation, the higher the selling price.
Most times, the weights are transferred to the final consumers. This is one of the reasons the masses complain more in time of economic recession.
Allow regulated free market, use price ceiling as one of the measures to gag exorbitant prices in the market.
Kebbi-Lagos alliance in the production of LAKE rice has shown that we could look inward for major consumables. The FG should study the MoU in that collaboration and explore other parts of the economy where state governments can collaborate, and give them the necessary supports so as to ease the burden on the government at the centre.
Above all, hypocrisy among our politicians should stop, building mosques and churches or sponsoring party members to holy lands are misplaced priorities.
Prayers are not solely enough to set Nigeria free from its economic bondage. Prayer isn’t enough to salvage a badly hit economy.
If our politicians put these into daily governance, we’ll begin to experience change as a country.
We all, including the politicians, know the major problems hampering economic development in Nigeria. Setting up task force on what they already know solution to is unnecessary, it’s high time Nigerian politicians changed their attitude of delay-tactics and make the country a better place for Nigerian masses who dominate the voting class.