Government’s failure on food security should be actionable, says don
• Challenges lawmakers pass the bill on food rights
The promoters of the Right to Food Bill, Professor G. B. Ayoola, President of Farm and Infrastructure Foundation (FIF), has called on the National Assembly to pass a bill seeking the entrenchment of food as a human right in the Nigerian constitution.
The premise of the bill is that while food is traditionally perceived as a basic human need, which implies that the failure of policies in meeting the food entitlements of the people is practically inconsequential, food as a human right implies that the failure of policies to meet the food entitlement of the people is actionable, justiciable and ultimately remediable by law.
The difference between the two notions is that while food-as-a-human-need approach views the role of the government in formulating and implementing food policies as obligatory only (i.e. mere charity or an act of doing the people a favour), the food-as-a-human-right approach views the role of the government, in this regard, as mandatory.
Prof. Ayoola argued that the bill if passed into law, would ensure that the government is held accountable to its citizens when public agricultural policies fail to meet their food entitlements.
“Therefore, the long-term effect of this Bill is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition while also promoting sustainable agriculture and diversification of the economy,” he said in a statement made available to The Guardian.
Ayoola said food security is pertinent and has been on the agenda of the past governments in the country without meeting the goal. Hence, he added, the introduction of the bill anchors on the contemporary human rights approach, as opposed to the traditional human needs approach.
“The rights approach is a veritable mechanism for attaining food security and eradicating hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria,” he said.
Moreover, the right to food approach helps to practically induce increased food production through the demand side of the food market, which will, in turn, trigger a steady supply response from farmers and other rural enterprises in the medium to long term.
Thus the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be taking a historic decision on Wednesday, when this public-spirited Bill comes up for a successful Second Reading, as a critical stage in addressing perennial hunger and malnutrition in the country.
As the constitutional amendment Bill (SB40), sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, came up yesterday at the Senate for Second Reading which will seek to alter the 1999 Constitution in both chapters 2 and 4 to make food security justiciable by law, the scholar urged the lawmakers to make food security a reality by passing the bill.