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NEC Outlines Initiative To Ensure Food Security, Affordability

as Shettima seeks collective effort to overcome Nigeria’s economic challenges

KUNLE OLUTAYO 

ABUJA, Nigeria – 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 the establishment of Agro-Rangers to tackle insecurity in farms.

Speaking at the 139th meeting of the Council held virtually, Vice President Kashim Shettima, who chaired the meeting 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.

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.

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

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 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 Vice President said “While economic experts foresaw this transitional phase on our journey to a flourishing future, it is crucial to recognise 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.” He said

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

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.

While noting fertiliser as a major ingredient of agricultural productivity which the government is striving to attai, NEC strongly urged the state governors to embrace modern agricultural practices to increase productivity.

The 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, Sen. Ibrahim Geidam.

They also revealed government plans to release 42,000 metric tonnes of food commodities from the National Strategic Reserve to address rising prices.

On his part, the 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, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating of the Economy, Wale Edun, also hinted the Council that the while $473,754 was what is in the Excess Crude Account, the Natural Resources Account had a total balance of N114, 343, 535, 696.46, and the Stabilization Account had a total balance of N34, 315,780, 894. 45.

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