By Asma’u Ahmad
The Vice Chancellor of the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo state, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, has advised the Federal Government to ensure effective implementation of the National Food and Nutrition Policy.
Professor Onimawo, who is a nutritionist gave the advice in an interview with media men in Abuja. He said the Ministry of Budget and National Planning launched the Policy at the 2016 Nutrition Week.
The policy, a 10-year blueprint, is a document that provides the framework for addressing the problems of food and nutrition insecurity in Nigeria. He said that a draft Strategy Plan of Action for the implementation of the plan had also been developed by the ministry.
“It is the Plan that will stipulate responsibility of all the related Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA) and this is normally coordinated by a body, which has been set up by the same policy.
“The National Council on Nutrition is supposed to be presided over by the Vice President. We have met with the Vice President and he has given us assurance that as soon as the draft plan is finalised, the council will be inaugurated,” he said.
Onimawo, however, called on the wives of the state governors to become nutrition champions in their states and support the effort of the first lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari.
“If they do, they will ensure that nutrition programmes in their states are properly carried out. Some states have done their plans but because there is no drive, no financial support, no political support to drive it.
“If only wives of governors from 20 states decide to take it as their pet project to ensure that adequate nutrition is carried out in their states, it will improve the advocacy. I assure you that one year is enough to change the landscape of nutrition in Nigeria,” he said.
Besides, he advised nursing mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and ensure regular feeding of their babies after to prevent malnutrition. The expert said exclusive breast feeding was key to the development of a baby in the early stage of development.
Onimawo said pregnant and nursing mothers should also eat nutritious food and balanced diets. “Nutrition is beyond food and drink; it is life itself because when the mother to be is well nourished, the child that will be delivered will be fully developed. The child will be fully developed because the major problem of development is the brain development and brain development takes place mostly in the uterus.
“About 70 per cent of brain development takes place within uterus during pregnancy and substantial part of it takes place during the first six months. Thereafter, adequate feeding for two years is important; if you miss it in these 1,000 days of life you are producing children who will never fulfil their full potential.
“One will end up giving birth to children that will not be able to take care of Nigeria’s economy and they will not be able to do well in academic pursue,” he said.