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VP Shettima: Nutrition top priority in Federal Government’s food security agenda

Vice-President (Senator) Kashim Shettima, GCON

*Nigerian Vice-President (Senator) Kashim Shettima rallies faith and traditional leaders’ support in building a nourished country, emphasising that Nigeria’s future readiness hinges not only on food abundance but also on the nourishing quality of its food supply to consumers

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Nigerian Vice-President (Senator) Kashim Shettima, GCON, has unveiled “an ambitious plan” to improve nutrition across the West African country.

ConsumerConnect reports Shettima, at a recent event, urged faith and traditional leaders to champion the effort in this regard in their communities.

Speaking at a high-level dialogue on nutrition Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, FCT,  the Vice-President stressed Nigeria’s future readiness hinges not just on food abundance but also on the nourishing quality of its food supply to consumers.

Stanley Nkwocha, Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media and Communications (Office of The Vice President), in a statement issued Tuesday, April 23, noted the National Council on Nutrition and the World Bank-assisted Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria Project organised the one-day dialogue with the theme, “Faith Leaders as Catalysts for Enhanced Human Capital Through Nutrition”.

Shettima stated: “We must proclaim to the world that our commitment to producing food of unparalleled richness is not rhetoric.

“This gathering is a solemn pledge to safeguard our well-being and preserve the legacy of generations yet to come.”

He also appealed directly to the religious and traditional figures in attendance, calling them “prime cultural influencers” and a “gateway to a Nigeria defined by mutual understanding, peace, unity and social cohesion.”

Shettima as well restated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to prioritising nutrition as part of Nigeria’s food security drive.

He further stated: “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has demonstrated his commitment to prioritising nutrition as an integral component of our quest for food sufficiency. “This is our inspiration to implement quality, cost-effective nutrition services.

“From providing support to pregnant and lactating women to ensuring the well-being of adolescent girls and children under five years of age, President Tinubu’s vision has propelled us towards a future where every Nigerian has access to the nourishment they need to thrive.”

According to him, initiatives like the Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) programme is a part of vital efforts at increasing nutrition interventions nationwide.

Senator Shettima, however, stressed that the government cannot succeed alone.

He averred: “We depend on the support and guidance of those who wield influence within our communities to drive this change.”

The Vice-President urged faith and traditional leaders to champion proper nutrition practices in their spheres, integrating nutrition education into places of worship and cultural gatherings.

“Your influence is indispensable. We believe that, regardless of the quality of ideas we bring to the table, our efforts will fall short without your participation and endorsement.

“This is an avenue to reassure you that we are committed to more than just talk; we will take tangible action by reaching out to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including pregnant women, children, and the elderly,” said he.

Shettima used the occasion to thank the Federal ministries and partners like the World Bank for supporting the nutrition drive in Nigeria.

He said: “Together, let us stand as beacons of hope, leading the charge towards a healthier and more prosperous tomorrow for all.”

Earlier in his remarks, Senator Atiku Bagudu, Honourable Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, had said malnutrition, and related challenges have over the years negatively impacted human capital development, requiring accelerated interventions.

The Minister emphasised that the efforts and interventions of the National Economic Council (NRC), chaired by the Vice President and the engagement with faith-based leaders, among other initiatives, are testimonies that Nigeria has the institutional mechanism to combat hunger and malnutrition with its associated challenges.

Also speaking on the occasion, Prof. Muhammad Pate, Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, said the engagement with faith-based leaders was not just a dialogue but a clarion call for action to address one of society’s most disturbing challenges.

Prof. Pate urged religious and traditional leaders in the country to leverage their network and influence in society to support the government in combating hunger and malnutrition.

The Minister decsribed faith-based leaders as “the backbone” of their communities, hence their importance in improving the nutritional outcomes in their various domains.

In their separate remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Most Rev. Daniel Okoh, pledged the commitment of their communities and congregations to the efforts at combating hunger and malnutrition in the country.

According to the faith leaders, their presence at the event underscored their loyalty to the campaign on nutrition.

Advocating attitudinal change by communities and individuals, the faith leaders assured that campaign messages for improving nutritional outcomes in families and communities would be integrated into messages in the different places of worship, in order to accelerate the fight against hunger and malnutrition in the country.

In a goodwill message on behalf of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, the 14th Emir of Kano and Chair of the Council, His Highness, Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi II, highlighted some of the negative indices of malnutrition and its related issues across the country, advocating a change in attitude and strategies by all stakeholders.

Emir Sanusi II said providing for the nutritional needs of children and pregnant women has religious implications, and must be viewed as a right owed to the child and his or her mother.

Other speakers on the occasion included the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris; out-going World Bank Country Director, Mr Shubham Chaudhri; Managing Director of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou, and the Chief Imam of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Prof. Mansur Yelwa, among others.

The statement noted the high point of the occasion was the launch of two manuals – the Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) Sermon Guides and Faith Perspectives on Nutrition – by Vice-President Shettima.

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