Beyond physical safety, securing the livelihoods of Nigerians was a guiding principle of the Buhari administration’s policy and interventions in nutrition and food-related issues, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof Osinbajo stated this Thursday when he was honoured with the Award of ‘National Nutrition Vanguard’ by the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN) in a brief ceremony held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The award, according to the NSN, was in recognition of the VP’s outstanding and immense “contribution to national development and particularly nutrition development in Nigeria.”
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“Your Excellency, under your leadership as the Chairman of the National Nutrition Council, the Council has provided the purposeful direction in the nutrition landscape in the country as well as increase the visibility of the council in national development,” according to Prof Hafiz Abubakar, former Kano State Deputy Governor and a member of the NSN Board of Trustees, who read the citation.
The society, according to Abubakar, noted 12 major achievements recorded in the food systems space under the Vice President’s leadership. Some of them include:
*Approval of the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (NMPFAN) in Nigeria by the Federal Executive Council
*High-level support for the Nigeria Food System Dialogue leading to the development of food system transformation pathways
*The approval for the establishment of nutrition departments in all relevant MDAs
*High-level engagement of the Nigeria Governors Forum for increase in funding for nutrition at the State level
*Creation of the Technical Advisory Group for the support and guided implementation of NCN decisions, and
*Improvement in the funding for nutrition activities both at Federal and State levels, among others
Accepting the award, Prof Osinbajo said “we decided as a government to do a lot more work in the area of nutrition and one of the major issues for us was the consideration that, the most important task for the government was the security of lives and property of the citizens. Security, of course, in terms of physical security but perhaps more, in terms of lives and livelihoods, because really what is the point of providing any physical security for somebody who dies of hunger or who is about to die of hunger?
“So, I think, for us this was so important that we should dedicate time and attention to food security and of course, nutrition.”
Continuing, the VP said “our work on Human Capital Development which we have done through the National Economic Council and our work in the area of nutrition, through the National Council on Nutrition, is one that we think, we have developed synergy and it is very important that we maintain that synergy. It speaks to our responsibility to the country and our responsibility to the people.”
Thanking the Nutrition Society of Nigeria for the honour, the Vice President dedicated the award to all stakeholders in the nutrition and food systems space, noting that “it (the award) was not expected because a lot of what I have achieved was in the course of doing the work for which one was elected.
“But I deeply appreciate this award and I also dedicate the award to all of us including yourself, all of us who worked diligently but silently in the nutrition and food systems space, who are hardly ever acknowledged or hardly ever noticed.”
He commended the NSN for its steadfastness and contributions to the advancement of the food systems space in Nigeria over the years.
“If we did not have the NSN, we would not have made the advancement or achievements that we have made. It is your advocacy over the years that has led to the point where government could not ignore the nutrition space at all.”
The VP urged the society to expand its scope of collaboration with the government to cover more areas, citing ongoing partnership with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, through the Homegrown School Feeding Programme, as an example.
Earlier, the President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Prof. Wasiu Akinloye Afolabi gave an update on the society’s activities over the years and presently under his leadership.
Prof. Afolabi said the society was currently supporting the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry with the implementation of the school feeding programme especially by enhancing the quality of meals served under the scheme.
Besides the President of NSN, Prof. Afolabi, and BOT member, Abubakar, other members of the delegation included, past President of the society, Dr. Bartholomew Brai; members of the NSN Council, Mr. Patrick Ogbonna; Dr. Maimuna Ladidi; and Dr. Salisu Abubakar. Others include Fellows of the Council, Dr. Davis Omotola, Dr. Victor Ajieroh, and the NSN Abuja Chapter Chairperson, Dr. Florence Uchendu.
In another development, Prof. Osinbajo has congratulated the management of the Duchess International Hospital on its first anniversary, affirming that “has proved to be world class, both in the quality of its medical personnel and management, and is living up to its mission”.
According to the VP in a recorded message “it’s already a year since we were there to commission the Duchess International Hospital. I didn’t know I would actually end up being a patient at the duchess a few months later to test the accuracy of my rather generous praise of the hospital. So, be careful when you praise a hospital”.
Continuing, Prof Osinbajo said “not only did I undergo an orthopaedic surgery in one of the state-of-the-art theatres there, but I spent a whole week on admission, post-surgery, in perhaps one of the most comfortable hospital accommodations anywhere in the world.
“So, I’m possibly the best person to confirm that the Duchess Hospital has proved to be world-class, both in the quality of its medical personnel and its management and that it is living up to its mission.
“I like the way they put it (mission) – to reverse medical tourism by delivering the highest standards of care, using the most advanced technology and treatments to give the fastest, most convenient access to the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world.”
It would be recalled that several months after inaugurating the hospital in Lagos, the VP returned to the same facility to undergo a successful surgery on his right femur.