Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday admitted that the current crop of Nigerian leaders bear the burden of very high expectations.
Osinbajo said this while inaugurating the National Council on Nutrition and the 2017 Global Nutrition Report inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja shortly after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council.
The Vice-President noted that Nigeria must make speedy and visible progress in its fight against nutritional challenges.
“The National Council on Nutrition has its work cut out, in implementation, collaboration, and communication. We bear the burden of very high expectations – Nigeria must make speedy and visible progress in its fight against hunger, malnutrition and other nutritional challenges.
“As part of this we must ensure that the new National Food and Nutrition Policy is quickly domesticated at state level in every state of the federation and the FCT,” he said.
Osinbajo mentioned that the council was established in May, following the convening of the first Presidential Stakeholders’ Forum on the Child Nutrition Situation in Nigeria.
Describing the council as the highest decision-making body on food and nutrition in Nigeria, the Vice-President said it was expected to spearhead and oversee government’s interventions in addressing the country’s nutritional challenges.
He said he would work with the National Food and Nutrition Policy, adopted in April 2016.
Osinbajo described the emergence of the policy as further demonstration of the seriousness with which the present administration takes the issue of improving the nutritional status of all Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable-infants and children, pregnant women, the elderly, the poor.
He said, “That policy, if fully implemented, will ensure significant improvements in several specific national indices, including the reduction of stunting in under-five children, reduction of wasting in children, reduction of anaemia in pregnant women, reduction in adult obesity rates, and an increase in the rates of exclusive breastfeeding.
“More than any other government in Nigeria’s history, this administration has demonstrated its seriousness about catering to the needs of the most vulnerable of our population.
“One of the primary manifestations of this commitment to the vulnerable is our Social Investment Programme, comprising a School Feeding Programme for public primary schools, a Micro-credit scheme for small business people, a Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, and a Jobs programme for unemployed graduates.
“The School Feeding Programme, which directly seeks to improve the nutrition of primary school children, is now active in 19 States of the country, providing one meal a day to 5million. Our target is 5.5million children before the end of the year. At the beginning of December, we intend to carry out a mass deworming exercise on the back of the School Feeding Programme.”
Osinbajo said the present administration’s agriculture reform agenda was focusing on achieving self-sufficiency within the shortest possible time.
He said the government was also collaborating with the private sector to ensure Nigerians have year round access to adequately fortified and nutritious foods.