part from the time-honoured view that a country’s poverty is reflected in the quality and quantity of food available to its residents, it is crucial to note right away that this work was primarily influenced by two distinct but connected promptings.
The first is the study report, which claims, among other things, that there has been a movement in the locations and occupations of urban consumers in the United States of America (USA) over the last century. It stated that in 1900, roughly 40% of the overall population worked on farms, and 60% of the people resided in rural areas. Today, the percentages are just about 1% and 20%, respectively. The number of farms has decreased by a factor of three in the last half-century. As a result, the ratio of urban eaters to rural farmers has risen significantly, providing the food consumer a greater influence over the food and farming system. The shifting dynamic has also influenced public requests for federal policy reform to focus more on the food supply chain’s consumer ramifications.
The second is Frances Stewart’s claim that the development-security nexus has become a critical component of development and peace-building efforts. He identifies three sorts of national and global links between security and development:
- The goal of security,
- The role of security as a tool and
- The use of development as a tool.
Given these ties, he proposed that security measures may become part of development policy, because they will help with development in the same way that they help with security. In contrast, because improved development promotes security, development strategies may become part of security policy. Stewart stated that “societal success necessitates a reduction in insecurity,” and that “more inclusive and egalitarian development is likely to improve security.”
As a nation, what do we make of the above, given the heightened insecurity in the country, which has resulted in incessant killings of farmers, primarily in the North Central region of the country, and Nigeria as a whole, and pathetically rendered us as a country in desperate need of peace and social cohesion among her various sociopolitical grottos? How can we stop the issue from spiraling out of control, given that all signals point to a serious threat to the country and the potential to create food insecurity?
How can we, as a country, deal with the reality that the number of farms has decreased due to an insecurity-related factor? What strategy is in place to deal with the bothersome fact that the ratio of urban eaters to rural farmers has risen significantly as a result of farmers fleeing their farms/villages for safety? Is the federal government aware of the alarming fact that global food and energy consumption is anticipated to double by 2050 as the world’s population and incomes rise, but climate change is expected to have a negative impact on crop yields and arable land? What do we want to achieve in terms of security and development? What instruments are being used to achieve these goals?
The perception in some quarters that the government has proved that no development plan (fiscal policies, socioeconomic plans, and poverty alleviation programs), has fulfilled its fundamental objectives since independence is exacerbating the problem. When it comes to marching plan targets with realistic and unshakable consistency, there is always a disconcerting laxness. As a result, the country remains one of the world’s most politically and economically fragmented nations.
Accordingly, it will be relevant to the current discussion to add that, in order for any programme/action to be characterized as development-based/focused, development practitioners believe that such programme progress should entail an all-encompassing improvement, a process that builds on itself and involves both individuals and social change. Growth and structural change are required, as well as some measures of distributive equity, modernization of social and cultural attitudes, a degree of political transformation and stability, improvements in health and education to stabilize population growth, and an increase in urban living and employment.
Similarly, it is factual that Nigeria paid little attention to what constituted sustainable development in the early decades. However, the introduction, adoption, and pursuit of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) by the United Nations, which spanned from 2000 to 2015, brought such discussion to a global audience. Its goals included reducing severe poverty and famine, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, lowering child mortality, and improving maternal health, among other things.
Without delving into the exact concepts or methodologies contained in the programme’s performance index, it is clear that Nigeria and the bulk of the countries underperformed. And it was this reality, along with other related concerns, that led to the creation of the 2030 Sustainable Agenda, a United Nations effort and successor program to the MDGs, which includes a set of 17 global goals aimed at promoting and addressing people, peace, the environment, and poverty. Partnership and collaboration, ecosystem thinking, co-creation, and synchronization of diverse intervention efforts by the public and corporate sectors, as well as civil society, are all at the heart of this initiative.
Nigeria, undoubtedly, faces development challenges such as uncontained insecurity, widespread poverty, corruption, terrible unfairness, and ethnic politics, and is in desperate need of interventionist groups (both private and the civil society) to address these issues, as the agenda demands.
However, rather than receiving targeted positive responses from private and civil society organizations in response to the government’s passionate plea for sustainable partnership and productive collaboration, such requests frequently elicit only jigsaw responses from critical minds and corporate organizations. If it is true that the government has no business in business, what business does the private sector have in assisting the government in carrying out its mandate of providing quality governance to the people, which they were granted through the use of participatory democracy and the election of leaders?
The cause of this situation is not unrelated to the government’s transparency issues. Such a response option offers a significantly decreased risk to corporate and civil society organizations, as no organization would be willing to invest in an atmosphere lacking in openness and accountability.
Aside from the issue of transparency and accountability, farmers have abandoned their farms in order to save their lives due to incessant killings, willful damage of property, and tangible instability in the states. As a result, the country’s food production and supply are openly endangered, and may be completely cut off in the coming months. If this scenario is permitted to play out, the country will be subjected to an even more severe food crisis. It also sends a chilling signal/message that what’s to come in terms of food and agricultural output and supply price increases will be terrifying.
With this in mind, the question becomes: what is the path forward? What are the best options for the Federal Government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, to save Nigeria and Nigerians from the looming food crisis? What preemptive initiatives and alternatives does the federal government have?
There is no reason why the Federal Government of Nigeria should not do all possible to ensure the nation’s advancement and development. And such an effort must first and foremost focus on crafting socioeconomic policies that are not only people-centered but also include a clear definition of our nation’s problem, the objectives to be attained, and the methods to be employed to address the problems/achieve the objectives.
As a motivator, such policies/programs should prioritize the protection of Nigerians’ lives and property, the creation of jobs, the building of strong institutions, and the development of better infrastructure.