Former Vice President and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, Atiku Abubakar, has decried the rising cost of food items in the market, calling for drastic action to address it before it turns into a calamity.
In a statement he signed, Atiku said that the warning given by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations on Wednesday, July 29, 2021, of a looming acute food crisis in Northern Nigeria should not be ignored.According to him, “That dire warning should be seen and heard as a whistleblowing moment that ought to draw the focus of the federal government, being that Northern Nigeria is the food basket of the nation, and any famine there will have a national impact on the rest of the country and cross border impacts in the West African sub-region.
“The laissez-faire approach taken by the federal government to this most important issue is regrettable. Food security is a vital part of national security, and where this issue is not resolved, the resultant crisis may unsettle the nation and her immediate neighbours,” Atiku stated.
He stressed that now was the time to proffer solutions, so that Nigerians do not starve in a land with so much prospective abundance.
The former vice president who asked, “So, how do we avoid this looming crisis?” went further to state that the major cause of the present and looming dearth of food is insecurity.
He explained that “farmers and other agricultural value chain workers cannot go to their farms due to the crisis of insecurity. I should know. I am heavily invested in large scale farming, and employ a workforce of over 10,000 in the endeavour.
“What ought to happen is that the federal and state governments should establish a Food Security Military Taskforce to work in farming clusters, to provide security for the nation’s farmers.
“We must give confidence to our agriculture workers, so that the sector can get on with the job of feeding the nation,” Atiku implored.
In addition to this, Atiku called on the federal and state governments to place a temporary moratorium on all loans to the agricultural sector in the affected states, by declaring a Force Majeure in the sector.
According to him, “We cannot expect small, medium and large scale farmers to service debts when they are not even able to access their farms and other businesses in the agricultural value chain.”
“Thirdly, the federal government has to intervene by providing free seedlings and fertilisers to the end users. This is a policy that worked to reduce hunger levels in Nigeria when Dr. Akinwumi Adesina introduced the e-wallet policy. Perhaps it is time to reintroduce and ramp up that scheme.
“If we cannot feed ourselves as a nation, we do not survive. This is the textbook definition of an emergency,” he explained
He explained that it is his hope that politics can be removed from this vital area of national life and address this crisis before it becomes a calamity.
Experts Worry over Increasing Cases of Hearing Impairment
With a growing number of people suffering from hearing impairment and lack of access to cochlear implants for treatment, health experts have called for public-private sector collaboration to curb the trend.
Less than five per cent of the people suffering from hearing impairment have access to cochlear implants due to different circumstances and factors limiting their access to the treatment.
This was according to Dr. Afolabi Simeon, Clinical Audiologist and authorised cochlear distributor in Nigeria who noted that providing cochlear implants was a way to help people with hearing impairment, especially those that do not benefit from hearing aids.
Speaking in Abuja, after a Cochlear Nuclues implant programme with 11 patients implanted in three states of National Hospital Abuja, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano State and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Simeon lamented the increasing cases.
He called for public-private sector collaboration, involving government; NGOs, corporate organisations, public-spirited individuals, and others would help to address the health menace.
He listed the effects of hearing defects as poor performance at school, low output at workplaces, accidents; including domestic, road accidents among others.
“We don’t really have any other option, but to provide the cochlear implant and make it available for those with profound hearing loss to hear and succeed in their career,” he said.
Simeon, who has been in practice for over two decades at BSA Hearing Centre, argued that Cochlear saves Nigerians with hearing impairment from the cost of travelling abroad for surgery and implant by providing the services in the country. Cochlear has implanted more than 55 persons both adults and children.
He said, “Generally, my job is to help those with hearing loss regain their hearing abilities and the goal is to make this a reality to as many people that have hearing difficulties, including children and adults.
“We partnered with Cochlear Limited whose headquarter is in Australia, the global leader and manufacturers of implantable hearing devices. They are supporting the nation with a good structure for the Sub-Saharan Africa region with the regional office in Dubai under the supervision of Mr. Davide Profeta – Area Sales Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa.
“We have mentor surgeons who performs these surgeries and also train the ENT surgeons in our local hospitals
“We know it is a big project for people to be implanted, so, whatever organisations, government, NGOs, etc. can do to help these people with hearing loss will be seriously appreciated because they need the help. NGOs, governments should begin to look the way of those with hearing loss, children born with hearing loss,” he appealed.”
Contributing, Dr. Abiodun Olusesi, Head, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Department, National Hospital, Abuja, expressed worries that many indigent Nigerians who need cochlear implants could not afford it and enjoined philanthropists and NGOs to support them to obtain the service.
Olusesi said, “Now the statistics from my clinic here in Abuja is that out of every 10 people that have hearing loss that present to the clinic, three require hearing aid, three of them require ear surgery to improve their hearing, that’s non-implant ear surgery and then the remaining four out of 10 will require cochlear implant.”