Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has lamented the low allocation to the country’s agricultural sector in the 2013 Appropriation Bill presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The party regretted that despite the President’s assurances that the budget gives priority to food security, what eventually came the way of agriculture did not match the expectations.
It said the 2013 budget for agriculture is less than two per cent as against 10 per cent minimum recommended by the African Union Declaration of 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique.
In a statement issued Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Emma Eneukwu, the party said data gathered from recent flooding in the country showed that more than 5,000 farmlands in many states had been washed away with the attendant threat of food shortage.
“Considering that a relatively meagre N81.41 billion was budgeted for agriculture and rural development, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) believes that it is either the President and his team did not put the ongoing nationwide flooding into the picture before making the final draft, or they are ignorant of the precarious situation faced by the people as it concerns food security, ANPP said.
“Every Nigerian is affected by the current environmental hazard pummelling the nation, but more affected are the coastal and rural dwellers, the petty agriculturalists and subsistence farming-dependent citizens who can barely survive outside their familiar rural territory.
Eneukwu quoted the Minister of Environment, Hajiya Mailafiya, of having warned that the country faced imminent food crisis, as more than 5,000 farmlands in many states had been washed away.
“We see no other way of addressing the looming danger apart from concerted, strategic and broad intervention based on a budgetary blueprint for next year in the agricultural and rural development sector, which underpin the affected areas.
“However, looking at provisions for these sectors in the 2013 budget proposal, we can only see the handwriting of a government that is not prepared to face this manifest challenge.
“Moreover, as a nation that prides itself as the Giant of Africa, the President, by allocating such paltry sum to agriculture, has made a statement that he is not ready to abide by the Maputo Declaration, of which Nigeria was a signatory.
According to the ANPP spokesman, the second ordinary assembly of the African Union held in July 2003 in Maputo, African Heads of State and Government had endorsed the ‘‘Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.
He said the declaration contained several important decisions regarding agriculture, prominent among them being the commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years.
“The ANPP therefore calls on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to give the 2013 budget a second look with food security in mind,” he said.