Nigeria’s Senate Proposes Food Stamps To Reduce Rising Hunger

Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday passed a motion urging the federal government to introduce food stamps strategy as the best interim measure to tackle hunger and starvation in Nigeria.

The Senate’s decision was sequel to a motion sponsored by the Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume and co-sponsored by Senator Saliu Mustapha.

The Red Chamber urged the federal government to introduce the Nigeria version of the food stamps programme as an interventionist measure to cushion the effects of food insecurity/shortage in the country.

The Senate also mandated the federal ministry of agriculture to liaise with development partners and other relevant stakeholders, especially the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, which introduced Temporary Food Assistance Programme (TEFAP), a few years ago.

“This is with a view to working out practicable templates and implementable modalities for the actualisation of the programme,” the Senate explained.

Ndume, in his motion, explained that at the unveiling of the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé Analysis on food insecurity, it was projected that in 2024, Nigeria is expected to see about 26.5 million people grappling with high levels of food insecurity.

He said food stamps will be a supplemental nutrition assistance programme which will provide food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people to help them maintain adequate nutrition and health.

He said: “The reason for the above projection is not far-fetched. There are several indicators, which include but not limited to the ongoing conflicts across the country, climate change impacts, escalating inflation as witnessed in recent time, and rising costs of both food and essential non-food commodities, due to fall in value of Naira in exchange market.

“Many hungry and angry Nigerians have been expressing their frustration and anger over the recent increase in food prices by demonstrating on the streets in several cities across the country.

“In other countries, like the United States of America, food stamp is a government-issued coupon that is given to low-income and non-income persons.

“It is redeemable for food and it has been used since 1933 to date as a measure to cushion the resultant hardships and sufferings on the poor/less privileged as well as low-income earners.”

Ndume noted that the clamour for wage increase and work support cannot alone guarantee a more effective way of addressing food insecurity without the introduction of time-tested public assistance programmes, as contemplated by his motion with particular emphasis on the need for immediate food support across the country.

He also told journalists after plenary that he was opposed to the idea being canvassed in certain quarters that the federal government should resort to food importation, claiming that it would be counterproductive.

Speaking, the Senate Minority leader, Abba Moro , said there was no better time for the motion than now, adding that identifying vulnerable people in his constituency has always been a problem but that the food stamps will help.

On his part, Senator Sadiq Umar, said the executive should ensure that only those who need the food get it, insisting the programme needs to start immediately.

“Structures are grown to help in the distribution of the food stamps,” he said.

On his part,  Senator Solomon Adeola, while supporting Ndume’s motion, said despite sharing money to the vulnerable, the food stamps will be even more important.

Also, Senator Sani Musa said it was an important motion as it will help in food security.

He said he was planning for such a programme in his constituency, adding that having such nationally will help.

Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, who presided over plenary, commended Ndume for the motion, adding that it will help assuage the sufferings of Nigeria.

“The Senate is open in acting on issues that will help all Nigerians. So the entire Senate commends Ndume for this motion,” Barau said.

Sunday Aborisade