The Chairman, the Director General of the FAO of the United Nations – Dr.Jacques Diouf 

Your Excellencies, Heads of States and Governments,

Distinguished Presidents of Senates, Speakers and Parliamentarians.

Hon. Ministers of Agriculture and related Sectors.

Members of the Private Sector and NGOs.

Members of the Media.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to first and foremost express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Director General of the FAO – Dr. Jacques Diouf for extending the invitation to attend this very important summit to the Legislative arm of the Government of the

Federal Republic of Nigeria, which I represent as the President of the Senate. This type of invitation might appear normal and ordinary but considering a country like Nigeria that was under military dictatorship for almost three decades of her forty-three years of attaining independence and is just three years into a new democratic government, I think it is worth mentioning.

I would also wish to express appreciation for the good work the FAO has been doing in the world, particularly in the developing countries since its establishment in 1945. I am aware that the Government of the Republic of Italy has been of great support to the FAO, especially in the areas of provision of infrastructural facilities and also in the organizing of this high level summit, I would like to thank you sincerely for the excellent arrangements.

The problem of food and hunger as we all know is a world issue and that is why we are all gathered here at this very high level of participation. It was Abraham Maslow, one of the early great psychologist and a contributor to modern management thought who saw human needs in the form of a hierarchy and classified the needs of food, water and shelter (physiological needs) as the basic needs for sustaining human life and unless these needs are satisfied to the degree necessary to maintain life, other needs will not motivate man.

The situation in the developing countries particularly Africa is very precarious and complex. It borders on abject poverty in which the problem of hunger and malnutrition is just a symptom. This is one of the reasons why there is so much unrest and instability in these regions. For democracy to thrive, it needs an atmosphere of peace and there cannot be peace in a region where a reasonable proportion of the population cannot afford and do not have access to basic needs of life such as food water and shelter. This is a matter of survival and as we all know that a hungry man is an angry man; so if care is not taken, he can be pushed to doing anything to survive.

Although, Nigeria might not be adjudged as facing widespread chronic malnutrition, the country is still however assessed as one of the poor nations of the world and the problem of food insecurity especially among the rural households is prevalent in many areas across the country. Over half of Nigerian population still live below the poverty line. They lack acceptable minimum levels of basic necessities of life. Food accounts for about 69 percent of total expenditures of average Nigerian household. Even if analysis and observations point to increased availability of per capita food supplies, accessibility to adequate food by some segments of the population has remained a serious problem. High unemployment and lack of purchasing power in the hands of most Nigerian consumers are serious impediments to food accessibility and food insecurity.

The present Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been trying her best in ameliorating the situation but a state that has decayed for over two decades cannot be effectively turned around within a short period of three years.

As Legislators, we are very concerned about the situation and this is why our focus has been on enacting laws that would be of benefit to the average Nigerian. We are committed to the issue of food security. Against this background, all members of the Legislative arm of government are in support of the collaborative effort between the FAO and Nigerian Government on the Unilateral Trust /fund on Special Programme on food security. Adequate counterpart fund have been appropriated to make sure that the project achieves the desired objective.

In order to ensure availability of portable water for Nigerians, particularly the rural dwellers, the National Assembly has ensured the provision of funds for the sinking of boreholes in all the Local Government Areas of the country.

Let me conclude by saying that the issue of globalization would be a farce if a group of the world continues to get better and the other group continues to get worse. Globalization should bring challenges which must be tackled in a spirit of partnership and co-operation. In my country, there is a saying that one rich man in the midst of a thousand poor men is a poor man himself. The rich countries of the world should therefore form a formidable alliance with the developing world in realizing a peaceful world free of hunger. This is why the recent initiative by African Heads of State and Government in the spirit of a New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) is very commendable and it should be used as one of the key vehicles in attaining this very noble and important objective.

I thank you all for your audience.