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Adjunct Professor of the North Dakota University, USA, Engr. (Dr) Wisdom Patrick Enang
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Nigeria’s Food Crisis: Expert Highlights Causes, Options, Viable Solutions

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By Sampson Enyongekere

An Adjunct Professor of the North Dakota University, USA, Engr. (Dr) Wisdom Patrick Enang is of the opinion that by embracing effective governance practices, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, Nigeria can chart a path towards resilience and sustainability in the face of economic adversity, and food crisis.

The globally renowned energy expert stated this in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

Dr. Enang, who stressed that Nigeria stands at a critical juncture as it grapples with mounting food crisis, informed that President Bola Tinubu’s recent decision to declare a state of emergency on the Nation’s food crisis, further underscores the severity of the situation and the urgent need for effective governance, in order to address the root causes of food insecurity, and ensure the well-being of Nigerian citizens.

The astute scholar of no mean repute further maintained that as the Nation confronts this multifaceted challenge, it was essential to critically examine the governance issues that may impede progress, and explore opportunities for positive change.

He also clarified that the declaration of a state of emergency on food security grants the government special legal powers to navigate the crisis and protect its citizens.

“The declaration of a state of emergency on food security by the federal government represents a pivotal moment for the national leadership to mobilize resources, implement contingency plans, and coordinate responses to mitigate the impact of food insecurity”.

Expatiating further, the Nigerian born, British trained Chartered Engineer who is fully registered with and accredited by the British Engineering Council explained that beyond the food crisis, that Nigeria was going through severe economic crisis, occasioned in part by the Nation’s inflation which currently stands at 29.90%, and the extreme volatility that characterizes its FX market, sequel to the floating of the Naira. He also noted that a lot needs to be urgently done by the federal government, to steer the economy back to normalcy, in order to avoid a stagflation scenario which is typically characterized by high inflation, low economic growth and high unemployment.

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“The removal of fuel subsidy, global inflation, and the devaluation of the Nation’s currency, are all factors that has increase Nigeria’s inflation in recent times, accounting for an exponential increase in the prices of commodities.”

“A standard 50kg bag of rice, which used to cost N45,000 in November 2023, now cost over N75,000, which is above the monthly income of majority of Nigerians. Nigeria is predominantly an import dependent country, and in time past, the Nation has had to import 2 million metric tons of rice annually to supplement local production. Consequently, sequel to the devaluation of the Naira, the prices of imported commodities have gone up.

“Similarly, even the producers of local commodities have had to increase their prices to allow them cope with the prevalent inflation, in addition to sustaining the aspects of their operations that relies on importation like the procurement of feed-stock, raw materials and fuel.”

“The food crisis in Nigeria is further worsened by a number of additional factors including: insecurity in the Northern part of the country, where a significant quota of the Nation’s food is produced; the heightened transportation costs from the locations where food is produced, to the locations where they are required for consumption; the various levies paid by transporters both along the way, and even at the destination market, before the goods can be offloaded for sale; the lack of functional food storage facilities; as well as the increased cost of seedlings, animal feeds and fertilizers.”

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Dr. Wisdom Enang, a Fellow of both the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE) and the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers (FNISafetyE) posited that the Tinubu administration must take commendable steps to address the food crisis, including: mitigating the challenges enunciated above; rolling out initiatives to support farmers; providing financial assistance to vulnerable citizens; and utilizing savings from fuel subsidies to bolster agricultural production, all of which align with the recommendations of organizations like the World Food Programme (WFP), and demonstrate a commitment to mitigating the immediate, medium and long-term impacts of the Nation’s food crisis.

Dr. Enang also harped on the importance of collaboration between the State and Federal government towards solving Nigeria’s food crisis ultimately. Expatiating further, the public affairs analyst posited that the State government should ideally lead the charge in expanding Nigeria’s agricultural food production capacity.

The academic juggernaut further noted that “whilst the declaration of a state of emergency on Nigeria’s food crisis is apt and timely, care must however be taken, when defining the scope of implementation of the emergency mitigation plans, in order to avoid the misdirection of efforts, which will result in inefficiencies and wasted resources.”

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“Effective performance measurement and risk management are crucial to ensuring accountability and transparency in crisis response. Similarly, stakeholders’ engagement and community involvement are vital for building trust and fostering resilience in the face of adversity.”

“President Tinubu’s administration must prioritize community engagement, performance tracking, and risk management to navigate the complexities of the food crisis successfully.”

Known and widely respected for his massive and sustained advocacy for the adoption of a value-driven approach to leadership and governance, Dr. Wisdom Enang averred that the active involvement of local communities, establishment of key performance indicators, and designation of a National Chief Risk Officer can enhance the efficacy of emergency management efforts, even as he reiterated that Nigeria’s food crisis represents a significant challenge that demands urgent attention, and a transparent, accountable and effective governance approach.

The Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Czar further enthused that although President Tinubu’s administration has made strides in combating corruption, more needs to be done to strengthen institutional mechanisms for transparency and oversight.

“One of the key governance challenges lies in Nigeria’s civil service, which in some circumstances have had to grapple with issues of corruption, accountability and administrative capacity. Clear delineation of stakeholders roles and responsibilities, improved coordination mechanisms, and enhanced communication channels are essential to overcoming these obstacles.”

StreetReporters.ng

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