President Goodluck Jonathan has said his administration is working conscientiously to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a global benchmark officially established following the millennium summit of the United Nations in 2000 and the adoption of the UN Millennium Declaration.
He stated this Wednesday prior to the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting when he formally received an award presented by the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in recognition of his administration's effort at reducing chronic hunger among the people.
The first goal of the MDGs is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. This entails cutting by half between 1990 and 2015, the
proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day, attaining the provision of decent employment for women, men, and young people as well as reducing by half, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Accomplishment of these feats was what qualified Nigeria for recognition by the Rome based ancillary of the UN.
But Jonathan who expressed appreciation over the award, was quick to point out in a veiled reference that more were needed to be done to achieve the remaining five MDGs, namely: achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality rates, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.
"We are yet to reach where we want to go but surely we will get there," the president stated. He continued: "I have to thank the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, and his team that worked tirelessly to get us to
where we are. Let me use this unique opportunity to tell Nigerians and the rest of the world that we appreciate this recognition." Presenting the FAO award to the President, the Adesina corroborated the President's observation on the need to attain other MDGs, saying:
"Even as we have made much progress, there is still more challenges along our way."
He observed that the administration had done well in curbing hunger in the country, which was why it clinched the laurel, adding that: "Mr. President you are feeding Nigeria and the international community recognises your efforts and leadership in feeding the country.
"The FAO of the UN have just given a special recognition to Nigeria for her achievement in reducing the number of people suffering from chronic hunger and for making notable progress in guaranteeing food security for our citizens."
He explained that Nigeria got the award because "the number of Nigerians suffering from hunger reduced from 19.31 million in 1990 and 1992 to 13.38 in 2010 to 2012."
The Minister added that there was a decline in the prevalence of under-nourishment in the country from 19.3 per cent in 1990/1991 to
8.5 per cent by 2010/2012. "This is below the MDG target of 9.7 per cent that was set for 2015," he noted.
The minister of agriculture who also indicated that the administration's push for food security was yielding result, said
Nigeria had added nine million metric tons of food to its domestic food supply and there was an on-going effort to start feeding school
children in order to empower farmers by "buying food items from them in order to create market for them and also help their kids stay in school."
The federal government received the achievement award in Rome, Italy, last week where the FAO identified it alongside Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroun, Chile, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Maldives, Niger, Panama, Togo and Uruguay as countries that have achieved MDG 1 alone.