Stomach infrastructure not solution to eradicating poverty, hunger, says Tonye Cole
Rivers State Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Tonye Cole, in the 2023 election without concrete and deliberate actions from the goverment, the worsening food insecurity and poverty in Nigeria might lead to a national emergency that the country might have difficulties in tackling.
According to him, the concept of stomach infrastructure popularised by Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, which have been adopted by other politicians and goverment was not a solution to the emerging hunger crisis in the country.
He stated this at the unveiling of Nigeria’s hunger report and Nigeria Zero Hunger Symposium organised by T200 Foundation in commemoration of the World Hunger Day at the weekend in Abuja.
Cole while quoting the World poverty clock, 2023 report, lamented that Nigeria has the awful distinction of being the world capital of poverty, with 71 million people living in extreme poverty, adding that a total of 133 million people classed as multidimensionally poor according to National Bureau of Statistics data.
Cole argued that goverment must tackle issue such as violence, weak government, and health-care systems if zero hunger is to be achieved.
These, according to him, are real difficulties in Nigeria, noting that addressing them is critical not only for hunger eradication, but also for the country’s overall progress.
He maintained that Nigeria is in a unique historical juncture in which some measures, if done correctly and with the right political will, can be enormously transformational for the country and the continent at large.
“Unless Nigeria meets the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 target, Africa will fail to attain the SDG, adding that should Africa fail, the global agenda for SDG 2030 will fail”, he stated.
His words: “The World Bank reports that China transitioned 800 million people out of extreme poverty and effectively eradicated extreme poverty from their society by 2020. This is a country that had over a billion people living in poverty in the 1970s. The campaign to eradicate poverty is underway, and the lesson for Nigeria and other developing nations grappling with high rates of extreme poverty is that eradication is attainable, and with it one of the primary causes of hunger.
“It is instructive that China accomplished this using a two-pronged method. The first strategic pillar, according to the World Bank study, was to implement a broad-based economic transformation to create new economic possibilities and boost average incomes. The second strategic pillar entailed providing targeted assistance for poverty alleviation.
“This assistance was first given to geographically disadvantaged areas with little economic options, and eventually to individual households. These factors that drive extreme poverty and, inevitably, hunger are similar to what exists in Nigeria today, which means that to meet the SDG 2 target of zero hunger through poverty eradication, Nigeria must also design a simple, implementable, and sustainable model and stick to it over time.
“This is undoubtedly more sophisticated than the famous ‘stomach infrastructure’ popularized by former governor Ayo Fayose, but it must be as simple to the masses as ‘stomach infrastructure’ is to them.
“Other factors that contribute to hunger, such as violence, weak government, and health-care systems, must be addressed promptly if zero hunger is to be achieved. These are real difficulties in Nigeria and addressing them is critical not only for hunger eradication, but also for the country’s overall progress.
“It is pertinent to note here that Nigeria has a target to lift 100 million people out of poverty through the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS). Nigeria, it seems has taken a leaf out of the China play book by focusing on a two-prong strategy to tackle this problem. An estimated USS1.6 trillion was earmarked for the 10-year programme spanning 2021-2031, equating to US$161 billion per annum. The budget covers the dual objective of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty and achieving all the country’s development objectives in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. This includes SDG 2 Zero Hunger.”
Executive Director of Connected Development (CODE), Hamzat Lawal, observed that only the goverment has the capacity, mandate and resources to fight poverty and end hunger crisis.
According to him, though the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme of the previous administrations did not yield so much positive results, the current goverment must make deliberate and sincere efforts to pull Nigerians out of poverty.
He stated: “When you go on the Twitter handle of the Nigerian police every night, they catch young people who are vandalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure and when asked them, they say they go to sell this item to get food to eat and as a society, when people think about their stomach rather than think about their contribution to the society, then we’re in a big problem.
“The answer to our problem is therefore politica. The T200 foundation can as much as possible feed millions but they simply cannot do it alone because they can only undertake intervention and fill in some gaps. It is the goverment that have the mandate, capacity, and resources to do it.”
Executive Director of T200 Foundation, Emmanuel Nnamdi Osadebay, described the poverty and hunger rate in the country as worrisome, noting that collaborative efforts is needed to stem the tide.
According to him, goverment and private organisations must give priority to education and skill development as part of measures to tackling poverty in the country.
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