The Buhari Media Organization (BMO) has slated a report by the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) which mentioned Nigeria as one of the countries at risk of facing the hunger crisis if rapid steps are not taken towards agricultural investment.
Listing the countries to include Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Haiti, Central Sahel (Mali, Burkina, and Western Niger), Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Southern Africa, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Libya, Bolivia and Ethiopia, the UN agency revealed that the countries were on the verge of facing a food crisis.
Owing to this, the BMO in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, tagged the report as “hollow and presumptuous”, adding that it failed to display the appropriate conditions of the country.
The statement read, “We acknowledge WFP’s humanitarian assistance in a part of North-East Nigeria, but we are shocked that it listed the country among ‘potential flashpoints’ to look out for in the New Year’.
“There is no doubt that the UN agency and its partners require greater investment in view of the scope of work they need to handle across the world in 2020, but we won’t accept a situation where Nigeria is painted in a bad light.
“Yes, there is a crisis in a part of the North East which was referenced in the report titled ‘WFP Global Hotspots 2020: Potential flashpoints to look out for in New Year’, but there has not been a recent upsurge in violence in the region of the magnitude reflected in the report.
“Besides, the crisis has been largely restricted to a part of Borno, which is just one out of 36 states making up the country and we do not see how that could be interpreted to mean that Nigeria may face a hunger crisis with the type of bumper harvests it has recorded in recent years”.
“We also wonder how WFP managed to restrict its conclusion on Niger to a part of that country (Western Niger) in the report but sees a far bigger country with more arable land as a potential flashpoint,” it added.
Urging the UN to adequately review the report, the group also pointed that the claims of a potential food crisis were out of place, as Nigeria has been confirmed as the largest producer of rice in Africa.
“The same country that WFP says is at risk of a hunger crisis has in the last three years witnessed a rice revolution to the extent that it was competing with Egypt. And now it has overtaken the North African country as the continent’s largest producer of rice with an average annual production of 4 million tonnes, according to the Africa Rice Center in the Benin Republic.
“So as at the time those commissioned to do the WFP report were placing Nigeria among countries likely to face a food crisis, the country was steadily climbing up on the list of Africa’s top rice producers in only four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s rice revolution.” It said.
Querying the authors of the “doomsday” report, the group further revealed that records had it that the WFP purchased grains from Nigeria and delivered it to other countries in the sub-region.