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March 2, 2024
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Food security: Risks expert lists paths to successful implementation of declaration

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By Olawunmi Ashafa

Dr Joachim Adenusi, Partner at Conrad Clark Nig. Ltd., has highlighted paths toward successful implementation of President Bola Tinubu’s State of Emergency Declaration on Food Security.

Adenusi, who is also the Convener, Nigerian Risk Leadership Summit, expressed his worries on Tuesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He noted that in a state of emergency or crisis of this nature, leaders faced challenges that were uniquely different from any normal activities within their domain.

According him, it is important to understand what the state of emergency on food security means.

“In an emergency situation, a government is given special legal powers to steer the country through a crisis or an extraordinary situation to protect its citizens.

“This kind of declaration should trigger a range of responses.

“Normal government functions may be suspended, citizens may be advised to change their behaviour, government agencies may be authorised to execute contingency plans, and certain non-absolute civil liberties and human rights could be limited or suspended,” he explained.

NAN recalls that President Tinubu on July 13, 2023, declared a state of emergency to tackle the rising cost of food and its impact on Nigerians.

Some of the initiatives proposed by the government include using money saved by the removal of fuel subsidy to provide fertiliser and grain to farmers.

Others are increased protection for farmers who have abandoned their lands following attacks and kidnaps for ransom; and a desire to support poorer citizens with some monthly allowance for six months.

Adenusi said Tinubu’s declaration of a state of emergency on food security showed a strong commitment to tackling the critical issue of food scarcity and limited access to clean water in Nigeria.

“The measures demonstrate a thorough approach to mitigate this crisis in the immediate, medium, and long-term.

“If Tinubu’s plan to focus on all aspects of the agriculture and food value chain succeeds while creating jobs at the same time, then the President’s declaration holds significant potential for positive change for generations to come,” he said.

Adenusi, however, said it was imperative to ensure that effective crisis leadership and risk management governance, with utmost transparency and accountability processes are in place.

According to him, this will ensure that the intended outcomes of the initiatives are achieved.

“This crisis should be a moment of critical reflection for changing the psychological equilibrium, the mindset, of the Nigerian stakeholders.

“It will create a new set of uncertainties which outcomes can be positive, negative, or something completely unknown depending on how it is handled.

“The starting point for the government is clarifying roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders that will be involved in implementing the adopted measures.

“Also, the government will have to depend on the machineries of the civil service because of the significant role they play in the formulation and implementation of strategies necessary to manage the crisis,” he said.

He, however, noted that the civil service was grappling with the problems of bad governance due to non-accountability and the ever-present manifestation of corruption; pervasive, undisguised, and yet untameable.

Adenusi said the reliability and effectiveness of the technical and administrative capacity of the civic service should be questioned.

He said not doing this could create limitations in dealing with the complexity of the crisis.

“Unless good governance exists that will make the Nigerian civil service accountable, the process of facilitating individual/collective efforts of the citizens in resolving the food crisis will be hampered,” he said.

Adenusi, who is also the Head, Research and Policy, International Organisation for Peace building and Social Justice Foundation (PSJ), UK, added that for the President’s state of emergency declaration to be successful, each stakeholder’s roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined with measurable expected outcomes and a time limit.

“Intergovernmental and intraorganisational dynamics often lead to a lack of a coordinated response, distrust, and conflict.

“A lack of clarity in the scope of implementing urgent mitigation plans could be another challenge.

“This is sometimes referred to as scope creep resulting in wasting public funds, negative reputational damage, and leading to the expected positive outcomes of declaring the state of emergency not to be met.

“Also, inadequate scoping of what needs to be done could lead to implementation ambiguity, making it challenging to manage and define boundaries surrounding of the crisis.

“The ineffective mode of giving, receiving, and sharing information is one of the reasons for ineffective emergency management response,” Adenusi said.

The risk expert urged the
Tinubu-led administration to master the art of communication with the people and also dialogue with all the stakeholders, directly or indirectly involved in responding to the emergency.

He said the food security crisis implied there must be a change from standard operating procedures, where the change had significant implications for performance of the government and the people, with potential positive/negative consequences depending on how it was managed. (NAN)

Edited by Folasade Adeniran

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