UNDP Launches Africa Human Development Report in Abuja, Nigeria.May 21, 2012
Following the global launch of the first Africa Human Development Report in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 15, 2012, the corresponding Nigeria launch of the Report took place in Abuja on May 21, 2012, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in the Federal Capital Territory.
The event attracted over 300 guests drawn from the relevant government agencies, members of the diplomatic community, civil society organizations, the mass media and other stakeholders. Some of the key dignitaries at the occasion included Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who launched the Report; the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adewunmi Adesina; The Honourable Minister/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, the President of the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria, Senator Abdullahi Adamu; the UN Resident Coordinator / UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Daouda Toure, and various heads of UN agencies in Nigeria.
In his remarks, former President Obasanjo described the report as “a damning condemnation of decades of governance in sub-Saharan Africa”. He said the report confirms what is widely known already: “that the poverty of Africa is the making of African leaders over the years”. Overall, he said the Report was “an indictment of African and international community leadership in the area of African economic development generally but particularly in the area of food production and food security in Africa”. He urged all stakeholders to work collectively “to make Africa self-sufficient and indeed to be a net exporter of food in the shortest possible time”.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Adesina, said Nigeria has a huge potential in agriculture, with 84 million hectares of land, cheap labour and largely untapped water resources. He said the Government has embarked on the implementation of an Agricultural Transformation Agenda aimed at ensuring “a food secure future for Nigeria”. He said while a lot of progress has been made in the past nine months since the commencement of the programme, with some bumps along the way, there was still much to be done to get to the desired destination. “As one nation, indivisible, we must continue to pursue rapid agricultural productivity growth, policy and institutional reforms that will make agriculture a viable business – one that is more productive, efficient and competitive. For only through this can the power of agriculture be unlocked, to secure Nigeria’s food supply, today, and well into the future.”
In his welcome address, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Daouda Toure, noted that human development is about enlarging people’s freedoms, choices, and capabilities to live a long and healthy life-being educated, having a decent standard of living and enjoying political and civil freedoms to participate in the life of one’s community. “This Africa Human Development Report advocates people-centered and comprehensive approaches to food security, and is both timely and important. It reminds us that food security is basic to human development, and that food insecurity can trap generations of people in underdevelopment.” He reaffirmed the statement of Mr. Tegegnework Gettu, the Director of UNDP’s Africa Bureau, that the Africa Human Development Report clearly points out two disturbing paradoxes in sub-Sahara Africa: 1. that in a world of food surpluses, hunger and malnutrition remain pervasive in a continent with ample agricultural endowments; and 2. That sub-Saharan Africa’s high rates of economic growth in recent years have not led to commensurate improvements to food security. Mr. Toure observed that despite the complex picture of food insecurity painted by the Report, it nonetheless argues that Africa can build a food secure future. He submitted that “Food security must be the centre piece of national development plans and there is a need for coordinated policies in various fronts.”
The launch of the Report in Abuja was covered extensively in all the major national newspapers, including This Day, The Guardian, The Nation, Daily Trust, the Punch and Vanguard newspapers. The major national television networks also transmitted broadcasts of news coverage of the launching of the Report, including the Africa Independent Television (AIT); the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the Channels Television. The Nigerian National Dance Troupe performed a dance-drama on the theme of food security – which was very well received by the audience. The launch of the Report in Abuja was, indeed, very successful.