Obasanjo made the call at the launch of ‘Nigeria Zero Hunger Strategic Review 2030 Launching and Press Conference’, where he stated that the forum is geared towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal, SDG, 2, which emphasises prominence of food security and nutrition in member states.
He said the forum which consists of the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, African Development Bank, AfDB, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Obasanjo Foundation, Dangote Group, and others will physically be on the field to monitor implementation of the Zero Hunger Project in the four pilot states under the programme, which are Benue, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto.
He said: “We are here to begin a new journey that will redefine the destiny of hundreds of millions of people in Africa in general, and in Nigeria in particular. This day is significant as we put our efforts to launch the Nigeria Zero Hunger roadmap that will unlock the potential of our nation and emancipate our dear country from the shackles of hunger and poverty.
“There has never been a shortage of good prescriptions and reports for reducing hunger in Nigeria but the implementation of these have been poor and unsustained. This time around and with the establishment of Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum based at IITA, we will ensure that recommendations contained in this Synthesis Report and the individual sub-committee Reports are implemented. We must do all we can so that this effort does not suffer the fate of previous endeavours.
“I expect that the actions recommended in our report will be implemented in all the 36 states plus Abuja starting in January 2017. The Nigeria Zero Hunger will Forum will support, encourage and monitor progress in Benue, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto States during 2017 and 2018. The governors of these states have already agreed that they will make implementing Zero Hunger Roadmap a priority.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, warned that 2.5 million children may be killed by malnutrition if nothing will be done to rescue them.
“Indeed achieving zero hunger in Nigeria is imperative. Tackling malnutrition and food insecurity is critical to the growth and development of our country. Nigeria has the highest number of stunted children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa, and the second highest in the world.
“Today, we estimate that there are about 11 million children who are stunted in Nigeria. In addition, we have an estimated 2.5 million children under the age of five with severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.
“If nothing is done, about half a million of these children will die. About 90 per cent of these children are in 13 states of North East and North West regions of the country.
“The sad irony is that these regions provide the bulk of the food that feeds this nation. Could it be there is something we are missing or something we are not doing right? To end hunger it is important to address the food deficit in the country.
“I hasten to note that at this point that good nutrition is a result of three underlying conditions; household food security, adequate primary health services and optimal care and support”, Adewole stated.