The Nigerian government began its war against hunger on Friday with the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, holding his first meeting with a task force meant to beat down skyrocketing food prices.
Mr. Osinbajo had announced the creation of the task force on Wednesday in Abuja during the Federal Executive meeting he presided over as President Muhammadu Buhari continued to enjoy his vacation in the United Kingdom.
On Friday, the Presidency issued a picture showing Mr. Osinbajo holding a meeting with his “food security task force” at the presidential villa. The picture was meant to show that the government was serious about tackling hunger in a country where many people have called on the administration of President Buhari to take steps to fight widespread hunger and hardship.
The government had responded with programmes to alleviate poverty in the land by empowering the less privileged. But those steps have proven to be too little for millions of people wallowing in squalor and hopelessness.
On Wednesday while announcing the creation of the task force, Mr. Osinbajo said the task force would “urgently consider measures that would ensure a steady flow of produce to the market and reverse recent price increases”, according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.
The Acting President expressed concern at some of the inflationary rates of food prices and noted that the Task Force will explore options to promote availability and affordability of food items to Nigerians.
According to him, the Task Force, which had seven days from Wednesday to report back to the Council, will consider how to remove some of the cost-raising factors that come into play between the farms and the markets and therefore “bring relief to our people.”
There have been reports of bumper harvests in some parts of the country but the prices of food stuff still end up rather high while some of the produce even end up wasted due to a number of reasons preventing effective transportation delivery to the markets.
One of the focus areas of the Task Force, Mr. Osinbajo said, would be to review the transportation and preservation processes, and see how government can intervene in those aspects to bring down food prices.
Below are members of the Task Force include the following:
Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun
Minister of Industry, Trade & Development, Dr. Okey Enelamah
Minister of Transportation, Honorable Rotimi Amaechi
Minister for Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu
Minister of Labour & Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige
The Offices of the Chief of Staff to the President and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, would also be on the Task Force.