Last week, President Goodluck Jonathan presented the 2013 budget proposal to the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives, where he submitted that the budget gives priority to food security. Considering that a relatively meager N81.41 billion was budgeted for agriculture and rural development, the All Nigeria Peoples Party [ANPP] believes that it is either The President and his team did not put the ongoing nationwide flooding into the picture before making the final draft, or they are ignorant of the precarious situation faced by the people as it concerns food security.
Every Nigerian is affected by the current environmental hazard pummeling the nation, but more affected are the coastal and rural dwellers, the petty agriculturalists and subsistence farming-dependent citizens who can barely survive outside their familiar rural territory. In fact, the Minister of Environment, Hajiya Mailafiya, recently stated that the country faced imminent food crisis, as more than 5,000 farmlands in many states had been washed away and there could be food shortage. We see no other way of addressing the looming danger apart from concerted, strategic and broad intervention based on a budgetary blueprint for next year in the agricultural and rural development sector, which underpin the affected areas. However, looking at provisions for these sectors in the 2013 budget proposal, we can only see the handwriting of a government that is not prepared to face this manifest challenge.
Moreover, as a nation that prides itself as the Giant of Africa, the President, by allocating such paltry sum to Agriculture, has made a statement that he is not ready to abide by the Maputo Declaration, of which Nigeria was a signatory. At the Second Ordinary Assembly of the African Union in July 2003 in Maputo, African Heads of State and Government endorsed the ‘‘Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’’. The Declaration contained several important decisions regarding agriculture, but prominent among them was the commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years. The 2013 budget for agriculture is less than 2 percent.
The ANPP therefore calls on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to give the 2013 budget a second look with food security in mind. Money is needed now for an effective short, medium and long term reaction to the onslaught of climate change which is set to affect the country’s agricultural sector more. Food reserves and silos, adaptive seedlings and species, farm settlements and loan mechanisms, etc, are some of the infrastructure needed now by the country to face the future foisted on us by nature. Our great party believes Nigeria will surmount all its current obstacles, both man-made and nature-made.
Hon Emma Eneukwu
National Publicity Secretary