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  • Inspiration: What inspired you to launch this campaign?

    • My profession as an agricultural economist; I constantly nursed the urge to apply myself positively, practically and professionally to the society in which I live, to contribute my own quota to quality of life in my own generation; the desire to make people happy as the real essence of Development; the zeal to reduce human suffering and release the energy in humans for productive work and incremental growth of the economy.

    • My vocation as a teacher and researcher of problems and issues in the agricultural economy with special focus on public policy; the affinity for addressing issues in the policy process;

    • My philosophy about development – reduction of poverty; Development as Freedom (Amartya Sen); wherein agricultural development is freedom from hunger; freedom begets right, so the natural right of people to be free from hunger is sacrosanct; hence the right to food as something sacred, inviolable, inalienable, undeniable, actionable, justiciable and ultimately remediable by nature.

 

  • Justification: What is the justification for the campaign?

    • The need for professional services in aid of policy process – policy analysis; policy brokerage and policy advocacy.

    • The need to promote policy best practices; global best practices – policy responsibility, policy accountability, policy transparency and policy due process.

    • The need to reduce poverty, hunger and disease; hunger as poverty of food;

    • The need to grow the economy faster: food as fuel or human energy for growth.

    • The need to increase the size of food market and improve rural livelihoods; increased demand for food (pull factor), greater production by farmers (push factor)

    • The need to reduce food dependency and save foreign exchange

    • The need to reduce the unsightly practice of begging for food

    • The need to increase school enrolment in all parts of Nigeria

    • The need for social investment that benefits agriculture directly

 

  • Status: What is the timeline of the Bill at National Assembly and the present status?

    • 2010 (6th Assembly): Introduced in the House for the amendment of Chapter 2 of constitution – Directive Principles of State Policy; First reading.

    • 2011 (7th Assembly); Introduced at the Senate for the amendment of Chapter 4 – Fundamental Human Rights. First reading

    • 2016 (8th Assembly): Harmonized and re-introduced to House and Senate for simultaneous amendment of both Chapters 2 and 4; second reading in House, First reading in Senate.

 

  • Impact: How does the Bill impact the national economy?

    • Energy for growth

    • Increased market size

    • Rural livelihood

    • Food security

    • Foreign exchange saving

    • Environment

 

  • Beneficiaries: Who are the targeted beneficiaries and stakeholders of the Bill?

    • Farmers – who finds market for his produce at all times;

    • Other value chain and market actors – whose enterprises will boom in meeting the constant demand for their products

    • Vulnerable people – School children, Infants, women, displaced persons, etc. who have been trapped in the web of poverty and can no longer help themselves out of it unless helped from outside.

 

  • Fears: What fears are being nursed about the Bill?

    • That right to food will impose a heavy budget burden on government.

    • That right to food will encourage litigations that will overwhelm government

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  • Roles: What roles fir government and the people in a regime of Right to Food?

    • People – to farm or work elsewhere to be able to buy food

    • Government – Obligation to respect; Obligation protect; Obligation to fulfil

 

  • Change: What are the changes expected in society after the Bill is passed?

    • Mind change – from the traditional notion of food as a mere human need to the contemporary notion of food as a fundamental human right; in a regime of need, the perennial failure of successive government policies to meet the food entitlements of the people is practically inconsequential (not actionable); whereas in a regime of right, the failure of public policy is consequential (actionable, justiciable and remediable by law).

    • Policy change – from policy complacency to policy accountability, transparency, responsibility and due process.

    • Practice change – People become right conscious and register their demand for their fundamental right to food and equipped by law to hold government accountable for policy failures to enjoy the right giving rise to better participation in the policy process affecting their lives.

 

  • Goal: What is the goal of this campaign?

    • Food justice in Nigeria: whereby all Nigerians may eat and eat well;

    • Food and nutrition security of Nigerians: whereby everyone is entitled to an irreducible minimum degree of freedom from hunger, required to live a dignified and productive life.

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  • Motivation: What is your motivation to promote this course as a Nigerian?

  • Value proposition in terms of opportunities offered: 

    • Opportunity to promote humankind

    • Opportunity to improve livelihood and make people happy

    • Opportunity to contribute to society generally

 

  • Constitutionality: Why is constitutional amendment required instead of a regular law?

    • It is a rights issue; a rights issue is the exclusive preserve of the constitution, not that of a subsidiary law.

    • It is a cardinal right (fundamental), not ordinary; all fundamental human rights are as explicitly listed in the constitution.

 

  • Food security Bill: What is the relationship between the present Right to Food Bill and the Food Security Bill that was recently passed?

    • The Food Security Bill recently passed is not implementable without the passage of the present Right to Food Bill; as it only imposes certain duties and actions on government not of right within the meaning of Chapter 4 (Fundamental human rights wherein justiciable) but as mere obligations in the context of Chapter 2 (Directive Principles of State Policy, wherein not justiciable).

    • That is, as passed the right to food mentioned in Food security Bill is not actionable, let alone justiciable or remediable as mentioned in the Right to Food Bill.

    • Whereas the Food Security Bill is necessary but not sufficient condition for food security, the Right to Food as drafted is both necessary and sufficient condition for people to enjoy their food entitlement.

 

  • Threat: What major threat does this Bill face in the National Assembly at this stage?

    • Fear of legislators facing distractions from the Bill as the election smoke thickens and political campaigns resumes.

 

  • Other rights: Why is Right to Food necessary when Right to life and many other rights are already guaranteed in the constitution particularly the right to life?

    • All rights are implicitly related and derivative from one another (e.g. right to life implies right to food as a derivative of it); however, when explicitly listed in Chapter 4 it becomes easier shorter to enjoy and to adjudicate

 

  • Affordability/Implementability: Will government be able to afford what it takes to implement the right to food Bill?

    • The weight of the Bill is not on provision of food for people but on formulating and implementing good policies. Therefore content of the Bill give little scope for litigations to flood government by frivolous people. The provision of food assistance for vulnerable people is quite affordable for government (school age children, lactating mothers etc. and other people in protracted suffering; also the internally displaced persons, victims of natural or manmade disasters etc.).

    • The Bill is implementable. The Bill is not asking for anything strange or new outside the pact between government and people; it is only asking government to do it more and better by taking public officers to account for the perennial failure of public policies in the food sector.

 

  • Litigation: Will government not be inundated with litigations by all and sundry in claiming people’s right to food?

    • It is mere subterfuge, an excuse for government not to perform its mandate responsibility to the people. Those who are raising concern about litigations are not the people the Bill is meant to benefit. Hunger is the worst form of poverty, and sufferers don’t even have the energy or money to go to court on the matter. By way of analogy, how has the Freedom of Information Bill opened the floodgate of litigations against government? Rather the passage of the Bill has helped government to provide information to people on demand, thereby delivering its information responsibility much better.

 

  • Service orientation: Is this Bill oriented towards self or public service; i.e. whether it is a private good or public good?

    • There is no iota of self service in our quest for people of this country to enjoy their God-given right to food; it is a pure public good.

 

  • Economic advantage: What economic advantage or benefits does right to food Bill hold?

    • Indeed the right to food is a demand management strategy, whereby the demand side of the food market is empowered to stimulate farmers into action to produce more food, and in turn use more fertilizers and other farm inputs without the need for subsidy. Thus the right to food approach helps to increase the size of the food market thereby raising incomes of farmers and other value chain actors including market actors.

 

  • Global regime: Which international consensus exists on the issue of right to food in terms of conventions, protocols etc.?

    • THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (1948) -  “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family, including food …”

    • THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS (1966) - “The States parties to the present Covenant recognizes the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living… including adequate food. And agree to take appropriate steps to realize these rights .

    • ROME DECLARATION ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY (1996) - “We the heads of State and government….. Reaffirm the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger.”

    • UN RESOLUTION 23 (1998) –The United Nations Commission on Human Rights: a) states that hunger constitutes an outrage and a violation of human dignity, and therefore requires the adoption of urgent measures at national, regional and international levels for its elimination; and also b) reaffirmed that the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food and to be free from hunger is paramount so as to be able to develop fully and maintain their physical and mental capacities.

    • AFRICAN CHARTER OF HUMAN RIGHT (Articles 4, 16, 22)- That: “The right to adequate food is an individual right that is indivisibly linked to the inherent dignity of the human person and is indispensable for the fulfillment of other human rights …”. That the state has an obligation to  “Take the necessary action to guarantee the right of everyone to be free from hunger and to mitigate and alleviate hunger even in times of natural or other disasters; …”

 

  • Which other countries of the world have adopted the concept of food as a right or passed a right to food Bill as their framework of food policies?

    • So many examples abound of countries that have enshrined food as a right either in their constitution namely: Bangladesh - Article 15; Brazil - Article 227; Colombia - Article 44; Congo - Article 34; Cuba - Article 8; Ecuador - Article 19; Ethiopia - Article 90; Guatemala - Article 51 (minors and elderly), Article 99 (feeding and nutrition); Haiti - Article 22; India: Article 47; Iran Article 3; Malawi – Article 13; Mexico - Art 27; Nicaragua: Art 63; Nigeria Article 16 (wherein not justiciable); Pakistan - Article 38; Paraguay - Art 53; South Africa - Chapter 2, Section 27; Sri Lanka - Art 27; Uganda - Objective 14; Ukraine - Art 48

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