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NEC Outlines Initiative To Ensure Food Security, Affordability

Vice President Kashim Shettima says with collective effort the nation will overcome its economic challenges.


 

 

The National Economic Council (NEC) has taken bold steps to ensure food security and put an end to the economic challenges confronting the nation, including making fertiliser available to farmers and establishing Agro-Rangers to tackle insecurity on farms.

According to a communique by Stanley Nkwocha, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications, this decision was taken on Thursday during the 139th meeting of the Council held virtually and chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

This comes just as the Vice President has said that with collective efforts in developing a clear and actionable roadmap through short-term, medium, and long-term strategies, Nigeria will overcome its economic challenges in the country.

Following a presentation by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, on food security in the country, Vice President Shettima directed a meeting of the federal government with major fertilizer producers in the country, including Indorama, Dangote and Notore.

NEC noted that fertiliser is a major ingredient of agricultural productivity which the government is striving to attain and urged the state governors to embrace modern agricultural practices to increase productivity.

Council also considered the establishment of Agro-Rangers in the short-term and the possible creation of state police in the long-term to address security threats on farmers. This was after a presentation by the Minister of Police Affairs, Senator Ibrahim Geidam.

The government is also planning to release 42,000 metric tonnes of food commodities from the National Strategic Reserve to address rising prices.

Minister of Agriculture called for action against dollarization of locally produced commodities like urea, which is impacting negatively on fertilizer prices and agricultural productivity.



Meanwhile, Vice President Shettima has called for sound economic decisions that will reverberate with the expectations of Nigerians.

He expressed hope that with collective efforts in developing a clear and actionable roadmap through short-term, medium, and long-term strategies, Nigeria will overcome its current economic challenges.

The Vice President also regretted that Nigeria had been a victim of strong averseness to evolving and keeping up with the changing global economic order, leading to a situation where making difficult decisions to maximize its potential has become inevitable.

“We must either redirect the economy towards a place of boom and competitiveness or brace for an impact we are unlikely to survive. So, beyond the heritage of our financial and monetary fiascos, we must compare notes to understand the interconnectedness of the dysfunctions in each sector of the economy,” he stated.

Delivering his opening speech titled, “It’s Time To Speed Up Our Prosperity Quest,” Senator Shettima told council members that it is President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s desire that they all stand together to collectively proffer solutions to safeguard the nation’s economy from imminent implosion.

He observed that while the wealth of every nation is in the belly of its citizens, the government has a long distance to cover in its interventions to enhance “food availability and affordability.

“The call to secure and liberate areas under threat from violence, most of which are arable lands owned by our farming communities, is not just a matter of security but a strategic move to revive the economic lifeblood of our nation,” he added.

Noting that the citizens are only keen about tangible results, the VP stated: “Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, while economic experts foresaw this transitional phase on our journey to a flourishing future, it is crucial to recognize that the ordinary citizen on the street is not concerned with any economic theory. Their daily concerns are anchored in the tangible.

“They are more invested in the price of maize than the predictions of GDP. So, as we deliberate on intricate economic strategies today, let us remain attuned to the heartbeat of the nation. We must ensure that our decisions resonate with the aspirations of the common man and woman who entrust us with their hopes and dreams.”

Acknowledging that the country is in the midst of a pervasive emergency, VP Shettima implored state governors, ministers and other NEC members to align their minds and actions with the reality on ground.



Other highlights of the meeting include:

• Update on work done by the adhoc committees on oil theft prevention and economic matters set up in December.

UPDATES ON ACCOUNT BALANCE:

The Honourable Minister of Finance and Coordinating of the Economy gave Council update on the underlisted Accounts as follows:

EXCESS CRUDE ACCOUNT
$ 473, 754.57

NATURAL RESOURCES
N114, 343, 535, 696.46

STABILISATION ACCOUNT
N34, 315,780, 894. 45


PRESENTATION ON HEALTH SECTOR WIDE APPROACH AND SIGNING OF COMPACT AGREEMENT WITH STATES BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL WELFARE

The council was called to note that the goal of the sector is to save lives, reduce both physical and financial pain and produce health for ALL Nigerians.

On health, the council resolved that there is a need for states to enhance their governance systems and structures, accountability frameworks, strengthen fiduciary systems and develop comprehensive performance management systems.

Clearly, there is a need for states to better engage with the federal government and ensure that we have one plan in delivering quality health plan to Nigerians.


UPDATE ON THE NEC COMMITTEE ON FLOOD

Following a potential flood warning from the Lagdo dam in October 2023, an existing ad hoc committee was reinstated by His Excellency the Chairman of NEC.

The committee was mandated with producing a roadmap for flood prevention and response, while coming up with an immediate plan of action to mitigate the impact of flooding on the nation and Nigerians.

This committee submitted its report with key recommendations and a strategic plan of action which was presented at the NEC meeting held on the 18th of October 2023.

Given the situation in the country, the NEC ad hoc Committee on flood was further mandated to investigate the projections for the 2024 raining season and present its findings at the next Council meeting to ensure preparedness and appropriate response ahead of the 2024 raining season. The committee has been tasked with working with experts at the various agencies to ensure that relevant data is made available on the 2024 flood forecast and necessary the reports are reviewed, and recommendations made to the NEC on how best to prepare and respond ahead of the 2024 flood season.

Council resolved to appoint the Governor of Kogi State, Ahmed Usman Ododo, to replace his predecessor as the chairman of the Committee on Flood Mitigation, Adaptation, Preparedness and Response.