Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has called on the National Assembly’s Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution to reinstate the clause on the ‘right to food’ allegedly deleted in the Constitution’s amendment bill.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, the foundation said the amendment bill, pending before the two chambers of the National Assembly seeks to introduce – ‘right to food’ and ‘food security’ in chapters two and four, to “address the failure of agricultural policies to ensure food security; given the philosophical context that there can be no food security without the right to food.
The Senate and House of Representatives Committees that are currently reviewing the Constitution have reportedly rejected the clause on the ‘right to food’ based on the premise that passing the bill with the clause as proposed could put more financial burden on the government.
The clause was also rejected on the ground that it “could be misinterpreted by citizens and might lead to damaging consequences.
The Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, who expressed disappointment at this move, said the right to adequate food is a long-standing fundamental human right, universally accepted for years and thus should not be cherry-picked by the legislators.
Bassey added that “to remove the clause from the bill is to reinforce lack of regard for the people and keep an open door for the purveyors of risky technologies, such as genetic modification and gene editing in agriculture, as well as policies designed against the smallholder farmers who are the pillar of agriculture in the country.
Coordinator, Food Sovereignty Programme at Friends of the Earth Nigeria/Africa, Mariann Orovwuje, said the recognition of the right to food in the Constitution would ensure accountability, transparency, better governance and policies to provide a thriving environment for optimum food productivity.
She stressed that the right to food is anchored on human rights and is recognised in many international treaties and conventions, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UN Resolution23 on Food Security 1998 and the African Charter on Human Right 1986.
HOMEF’s Programme Manager and Project Lead on Hunger Politics, Joyce Brown, said for the country to address the problem of hunger, having the ‘right to food’ enshrined in the Constitution is an expedient first step.
“It will engender policy coherence and effectiveness such that the actual needs of the people are addressed from a fundamental rights approach.
HOMEF seeks reinstatement of ‘rights to food’ clause in the constitution