Welcome Address By Honourable Minister of State, Budget And National Planning At The 2020 National Council On Nutrition Meeting

The following is a transcript of a speech I delivered at the 2020 National Council On Nutrition Meeting chaired by His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, on Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

Protocol

It is with honour and pleasure that I welcome you all to this year’s council meeting. At the instance of its Chairman and Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, SAN, the Council’s last meeting held about a year ago to deliberate on some critical issues on nutrition as it affects the nation.

Food insecurity and malnutrition have remained issues of great concern over the years despite the renewed efforts of government at various levels. Nigeria is reported to have an estimated 2.5 million children under the age of 5 years suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). This is further compounded by the new global normal occasioned by the outbreak of COVD-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has affected food systems and threatened people’s access to food via multiple dynamics. We have witnessed not only a major disruption to food supply chains in the wake of lockdowns triggered by the global health crisis, but also a major global economic slowdown. This has resulted in lower incomes and higher prices of some foods, putting food out of reach for many, and undermining the right to food and stalling efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: “Zero hunger.” We therefore urgently need to undertake some measures in order to reverse the trend.

The recently concluded 2020 Nigeria Nutrition Week with the theme — “Nutrition: The Bedrock for Economic Development”, provided our Ministry yet another opportunity to mobilize nutrition stakeholders towards addressing the challenge of malnutrition, which has been termed “the silent killer”. Your Excellency, the Week was a huge success.

Your Excellency and members of Council may wish to recall the Council’s decision at its meeting on 16th December 2019 wherein the Ministry as the Secretariat of NCN was directed to undertake a downward review of the costing component of the National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition in Nigeria (NMPFAN) 2021–2025. In line with this decision, I wish to inform the Chair of the Council and other members that the review of the costing component of NMPFAN has been finalized and would be presented to the Council at the instance of the Chair for consideration; and subsequent presentation to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Your Excellency, distinguished colleagues, ladies, and gentlemen, research has shown that investments in nutrition prevents undernutrition, builds human capital, boosts shared prosperity and improves health outcomes. Returns from programmes for improving nutrition far outweigh their costs while delay/failure in addressing malnutrition has high costs in terms of higher budget outlay as well as lost GDP and this makes investment in nutrition a must-do.

Nutrition is not just a health issue, it is about the potentials of the next generation. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that every child has the opportunity to survive and thrive. It is therefore my expectation that this meeting would serve as another springboard to further propel the cause of nutrition.

On this note, I welcome you all to this year’s Council meeting and wish us very fruitful deliberations.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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Prince Clem Ikanade Agba

The current Minister of State for Budget and National Planning of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.