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New nutrition Depts. now in several FG ministries, likely to feature in 2023 budget

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Efforts by the Federal Government to tackle malnutrition and its attendant challenges are beginning to take shape, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, just as nutrition specific budget estimates are likely to be included in the 2023 Appropriation Bill.

Prof. Osinbajo was speaking Thursday at a virtual meeting of the National Council on Nutrition.

According to the Vice President “we are at a point where we can move the needle especially with the creation of nutrition departments in line ministries and ensuring that we get nutrition on the budget line and it is actually done properly.”

The Council with the approval of the President has now ensured that nutrition departments now exist in several Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Humanitarian Affairs, Women Affairs, Information and Culture, Industry, Trade and Investment, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), among others.

During the meeting, presentations by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and Nigerian Governors Forum were made on the implementation of the National Multi-Sectoral Plan of Action on Nutrition particularly on the funding of nutrition activities in the country.

“We intend to follow up on all of these especially in the coming days, working with the relevant Ministers and the Governors Forum. And an important point that was made in the presentation earlier was that we need to do a chart of account. It is really important,” the VP said.

The meeting chaired by the Vice President had in attendance, Minister of Science and Technology, Sen. Adeleke Mamora; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq; the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs Olusola Idowu; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr Aliyu Ahmed, and the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, among others.

Council members at the meeting included His Royal Highness and Board of Trustees Chairman, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and also CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Ms Zouera Youssoufou; representatives of civil society and development partners, among others.

In another development, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the inauguration of a donor’s forum ahead of the 2023 Population Census restated the Federal Government’s commitment to investing in the development of the country’s human capital across different sectors, including health, education and nutrition, despite the growing population.

The Vice President whose remarks were delivered at the event by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said “as a government, our most important objectives, both nationally and regionally, must be on the improvement of the quality of life, living standards and livelihoods of our people. In other words, we are committed to the happiness, security and general welfare of our populations.”

Underscoring the political will demonstrated by the Buhari Administration towards the country’s development and welfare of its people, Prof. Osinbajo noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated personal commitment in several ways, “including the fact that we are holding the census in the very year that we are going to have an election, considering the huge budgetary implications of that.”

Buttressing the significance of a population census in an election year, the Vice President noted that “the data collected by Census helps a nation to make critical decisions regarding its future. This is why we must ensure we have the right data to plan adequately for our people and for the future of our children.”

Furthermore, the Vice President noted the goal of the Administration’s National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy, aimed at taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.

According to the VP, this is one of the reasons why a state-of-the-art population census is very important.

“While we must adequately capture all the important indices of our great population, we will continue to make crucial investments in the development of our human capital, especially now when the population of the African continent is growing at an even faster rate when compared to the rest of the world.

“By 2050, Nigeria is projected to have 400 million people. And government must continue to provide quality basic education, nutrition and healthcare for them, improve on security and create more job opportunities for our young people, who currently make up more than half of our country’s population.”

Referencing the President’s speech from the recent National Stakeholders Summit organized by the Commission, the Vice President stated that “Population is a critical factor in a nation’s efforts toward achieving sustainable development.

“People are both the agents and beneficiaries of the development process. Therefore, the knowledge of the national population in terms of size, distribution and socio-economic characteristics is required for planning purposes.”

Commending the Commission and its partners for their hard work and dedication in preparations for the 2023 Population and Housing Census (PHC), the Vice President highlighted the Commission’s efforts in this regard.

A special documentary on Nigeria’s 2023 Census journey so far was also screened at the event, while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who was represented by the Special Adviser on Policy and Coordination to the President, Dr Habiba Lawal; Chairman of NPC, Hon. Nasiru Kwarra; and the UNFPA Resident Representative, Ms. Ulla Mueller, delivered special remarks.

The Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, who represented the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning at the event, presented the budget for the 2023 Population Census.

Also present at the meeting were representatives of development partners; the diplomatic corps, including the ambassadors of France, Mexico, Botswana, Turkey; as well as representatives of the private sector, among others.

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