Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has said that the ministry would provide effective coordination and oversight role towards implementation of the revised National Policy on Food and Nutrition at the national and sub-national levels.
Agba stated that, given the role of the ministry as the secretariat to both the National Council on Nutrition (NCN) and National Committee on Food and Nutrition (NCFN), the coordination and oversight would also be extended to the multi-sectoral plan of action for food and nutrition in order to reduce the burden of malnutrition in the country.
He assured stakeholders that the Ministry would continually engage the sectoral Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to prioritize nutrition-specific and sensitive interventions.
His positions were contained in a goodwill message he delivered at a virtual conference on nutrition on Tuesday (August 18, 2020) organised by the Aisha Buhari Foundation.
The minister said that “malnutrition leads directly to suffering and death and slows down development.”
He noted that “Nigeria’s contribution to under five and maternal mortality in the whole world is not commendable, hence the present administration highly prioritises reduction of malnutrition in its cardinal project objectives for the country.”
According to him, “It is on the basis of this, I believe, that the organisers of this great event have carefully selected the theme of this year’s conference to demonstrate the linkage between resource allocation and malnutrition.”
The theme of the conference is: “Innovative Financing Options for Nutrition; unravelling the bottlenecks.”
Agba stated that “considering dwindling government resources, there is need for alternative innovative financing to be supported by the private sectors and donor community.”
He said that since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the Federal Government had made progress in reducing malnutrition.
The minister, however, lamented that the advent of COVID-19 and lockdown of both global and local economies had negatively impacted on the gains so far achieved.
According to him, “This administration introduced several programmes targeted at the poor such as comprehensive National Social Safety Net Programme in 2016 to address unemployment, tackle poverty, hunger and improve the condition of living of the extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
“To stimulate the economy and reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 on malnutrition, this government developed a stimulus package that included fiscal and monetary policies, sectoral interventions and social programmes.”
He added: “In this period of COVID-19, we still require more collaboration with the international community to tackle and eliminate malnutrition in all its ramifications.”
He assured stakeholders that the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, in line with its broad mandate of coordinating food and nutrition-related activities in the country, would continue to provide effective leadership in ensuring that optimal nutritional status for all Nigerians as outlined in the National Food and Nutrition policy, was achieved.
Agba stated that “We have deliberately created a Thematic Working Group on Nutrition in the Successor Medium-Term National Development Plans 2021 – 2025 and 2026-2030 and the perspective plan-Nigeria Agenda 2050 because of the importance of nutrition to national development.”
He applauded the First lady, Dr (Mrs) Aisha Buhari for “the very commendable humanitarian service that she is providing through her Foundation for Nigerian women, youths and children.”
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