A call for the National Assembly to pass the Right to Food Bill has been made by the Emir of Argungu, Samai’la Mera, alongside members of the Right to Food Coalition (RFC).
During an advocacy visit by the coalition of civil society groups promoting the right of every Nigerian to access to food, Mr Mera said the Senate should pass the Bill without further hesitation.
A statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES showed that the emir expressed surprise that Nigeria is yet to have food as a fundamental human right written in the constitution when responding to a presentation on the Right to Food Bill by the Chairman of Voices for Food Security (VFS), Gbolagade Ayoola.
He added that the bill, if passed, will take care of almost 80 per cent of the concerns surrounding food security.
Mr Ayoola, in his presentation, said the latest World Hunger Index published by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) indicates that Nigeria ranked 84th among 119 countries in the category of “Serious Hunger Prevalence” in 2017.
He said this implies that about three-quarter of its population (about 150 million people) presently suffer from acute adult malnoutrition, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality, all linked to food insecurity of the country.
He added that the subject matter also exists in some countries and that they have adopted the concept of food as a right or passed a right to food bill as the basis for implementing food policies.
According to the statement, such counties include: Bangladesh – Article 15; Brazil – Article 227; Colombia – Article 44; Congo – Article 34; Cuba – Article 8; Ecuador – Article 19; Ethiopia – Article 90; Guatemala – Article 51 (minors and elderly), Article 99 (feeding and nutrition); Haiti – Article 22; India: Article 47; Iran Article 3; Malawi – Article 13; Mexico – Article 27; Nicaragua: Article 63; Nigeria Article 16 (wherein not justiciable); Pakistan – Article 38; Paraguay – Article 53; South Africa – Chapter 2, Section 27; Sri Lanka – Article 27; Uganda – Objective 14; and Ukraine – Article 48.
“The Bill, which has suffered a great setback during the 6th Assembly (2007-2011), and also suffered a similar fate during the 7th Assembly (2011-2015), is now at the committee stage during this present Eighth Assembly (2015-2019), having passed the Second Reading at the Federal House of Representatives and the First Reading at the Senate as at June 2016,” he said.
In his remarks, the emir assured the coalition of his support for the bill and his readiness to reach out to all key players within his sphere of influence to mobilise support for its passage by the 8th National Assembly without further delay.