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Ben Kalu: Nigerians are happy people — they can absorb hardship and keep moving

Benjamin Kalu Benjamin Kalu

Benjamin Kalu, deputy speaker of the house of representatives, says Nigerians can absorb hardship and keep it moving.

Kalu spoke on the floor of the lower legislative chamber on Wednesday while contributing to a motion on food security.

The legislator said Nigerians are happy people because they are resilient despite economic hardship.

The lawmaker said farm inputs should be subsidised to put the country on the path of food security.

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He said governors should prioritise policies that drive agriculture in their states, to complement the efforts of the federal government.

“It is high time you prioritise your policies and the mechanism to achieve those policies towards agriculture and food insecurity so that what the president is doing from this level of the federal government will be felt at the local level,” he said.

“If there is a need for subsidy in this country, it is to subsidise these farm inputs and everything that has to do with farming. Let‘s put our energy there.

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“We are hardworking people in Nigeria. We have been declared as one of the happiest people in the world because we can absorb hardship and keep moving.

“The governors — we urge you to prioritise the issue of agriculture.”

THE MOTION

While moving the motion, Chike Okafor from Imo, said as the farming season approaches, the government must take “immediate action” to avert a worsening crisis and ensure the availability of food and the well-being of citizens.

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He said the current state of food scarcity in Nigeria poses a grave threat to the health and livelihoods of millions of people.

“Insufficient access to nutritious food not only leads to hunger and malnutrition but also exacerbates existing health conditions and undermines the overall development of our nation,” he said.

“Without adequate remedial measures in place, we risk plunging our country into deeper turmoil, with far-reaching social, economic, and political implications, hence the need for a purposeful gathering and more government import waivers for farming and agricultural equipment in Nigeria.”

The lawmaker said 24.9 million Nigerians are “presently in an acute/critical stage of hunger, and this is considered to be an emergency, while 85.8 million Nigerians have insufficient food consumption and out of this number, 47.7 million Nigerians have a crisis or above crisis level in terms of food-based survival margin”.

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He said the government needs to increase resources to support smallholder farmers and agrarian communities, ensuring they have the necessary inputs, tools, and infrastructure to enhance food production through short-term subsidies.

Contributing to the debate, Awaji-Inombek Abiante from Rivers state, said the government lacks focus and vision and has not taken planning very seriously.

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He said food security was extensively debated in the 8th and 9th assemblies, yet the government has not implemented the recommendations of the house.

Abiante said farmers cannot go to their farms because of insecurity.

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“If we must provide any incentive to farmers, the farming environment, arable lands must first of all be secured,” he said.

“If we don’t take that as the primary responsibility of governance, no matter what we do it will be like pouring water on the back of the duck. It will not work.”

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Aliyu Misau from Bauchi state said government must subsidise farm inputs for farmers.

He said a bag of MPK fertiliser was sold at N5,000 to the off-takers five years ago but today it is N38,000.

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