Ndidi Nwuneli, managing partner and co-founder of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition Ltd., says 84 percent of Nigerians cannot afford a healthy diet.
The public speaker and author also blamed the development on the cost of the health care system in Nigeria.
Nwuneli spoke at a penal discussion on ‘Building a secure Nigeria: Key priorities for Economic Growth & Inclusion’ at the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES27) in Abuja.
“84 percent of Nigerians cannot afford a healthy diet. This is a direct link to the cost of our health care system and the fact that we lose so many Nigerians. Our life expectancy is at 57 percent and I am sure post-covid is even declining,” she said.
According to Nwuneli, more than 50 percent of Nigerians are spending their income on food when the country is naturally blessed for agriculture excellence.
“Before covid, 57 percent of household income was spent on food, the highest in the world. Post covid, this rate is even more alarming. When people spend the majority of their income on food, they won’t be able to spend money on education, health or recreation,” she added.
“Food is medicine, food is critical for education and children can’t focus in schools if they are hungry. Under-five years, it affects their brain development and yet we continue to pay lip service to agriculture and food sector.
“And it is critical because Nigeria is naturally endowed for agricultural excellence. This is one area God gave us water, land, everything we need to succeed and yet we are failing. And what is keeping us back is one, a commitment to an ecosystem solution to agriculture.”
Nwuneli also disclosed that the increasing youth unemployment in Nigeria should be looked into as it is making the country lose its best hands to other countries.
“Youth employment is another issue. We all see the writing on the wall. Our young people are our biggest asset and yet we treat them as a liability. Over the last 19 years through my work with leap Africa, I have seen what young people can contribute to Nigeria. Yet we continue to underinvest in them,” she added.
Nwuneli further stressed that Nigeria needs to drive innovation by leveraging ICT and partnering with organisations and NGOs that know what they are doing to drive home this change.