A professor of Agricultural Economics and president, Food and Infrastructure Foundation (FIF) Gbolagade Ayoola, has appealed to the government to make food a fundamental right that is backed by the constitution.
Ayoola made this known in a memorandum addressed to Ovie Omo-Agege, deputy senate president/chairman – Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Review of 1999 Constitution, entitled: ‘The Need to Make the Right to Food a Fundamental Human Right in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’
Based on the inherent advantages of the bill, the FIF founder urged the committee to be positively disposed to recommending the Right to Food Bill currently pending before the Senate (SB Bill 240).
The bill requires amending the constitution in chapter two (Directive Principles of State Policy, wherein not justiciable), and in chapter four (Fundamental Human rights, wherein justiciable).
Moving the food security provision from chapter two to chapter four, the advocate said, citizens could better engage the government over failure to make food available and affordable by not providing requisites such as irrigation facilities, rural road networks, markets, and other critical infrastructures.
He says this would thereby influence authorities to create an enabling environment and provide security of the farm population as well as boosting productivity, noting that these responsibilities of the government will make food available in all parts of the country.
He said the President should be mandated to produce and review on yearly basis an implementation strategy as a schedule to the bill, and to deliver an annual Food Situation Address to the National Assembly in accountability for the huge resources appropriated for the purpose, and in recognition of food security as the bedrock of national security.
Ayoola said the bill is geared towards the improvement of the policy environment for food security and agribusiness in terms of responsibility, accountability, transparency, and due process on the part of the government.
The Professor argued that entrenching such in the constitution would engender food sovereignty and self-sufficiency, thereby freeing the country from the clutches of neo-colonialism through food trade and make the people feel an implicit gratification for their ability to feed themselves.