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Passion for the hungry earned Adesina $250,000 World Food Prize

Dr. and Mrs. Akinwunmi Adesina

Nigeria’s former agriculture minister and now President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, who won the $250,000 2017 World Food Prize laureate has done so because of his passion to end hunger in Africa. He has been doing so for more than 20 years.

Expectedly, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigerians were proud of Adesina’s exploit. Through his media aide Femi Adesina, Buhari said to the food laureate: “I received with delight the cheery news of your award as 2017 World Food Prize Laureate.

Venue of the World Food Prize 2017 laureate presentation to Adesina (Des Moines, Iowa)

“Certainly, this did not come to me and many Nigerians as a surprise, given your antecedents and contributions to the development of agriculture across the African continent. We are very proud of you.”

Obasanjo, Adesina and wife

Nigeria’s former president Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo also attended the laureate presentation which was held in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. It was a well attended serene event made colourful by the folk singing traditional quintet of female Nigerians called ‘Adunni & Nefertiti’ who got Adesina and wife dancing to their sonorous voices, ‘sekere’ and drums.

The well-appointed assembly roared to an applause when the quintet called Obasanjo out of the crowd to regale the occasion with his bata-style dance steps. Stepping out in rich flowing aso-oke, Obasanjo added the much anticipated pomp and flavour to the Adesinas’ big moment and earned for himself a deserved applause.

‘Adunni & Nerfertiti gave a good account of themselves at the event. Currently on a musical and cultural tour of the United States, the quintet is made of Ayo Orobiyi (Adunni), Iyabode Onasanya, Stella Abednego, Folashade Orobiyi and Hannah Oluwaseyi.

From left, Stella, Iyabode, Ayo, Folashade, and Bukola [Adunni & Nefertiti]
According to the World Food Prize Foundation, Adesina won the prize for driving change in African agriculture for over 25 years and improving food security for millions across the continent.

Adesina is an inspiring Nigerian proof that good men can indeed serve and shine in bad administrations. He was appointed a latter day agriculture minister by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan who is said to have led the most corrupt administration in the 57-year history of Nigeria.

“By dint of hard work, persistence, diligent efforts and God’s sufficient grace, you have risen above many limitations to emerge as a notable figure and a true champion. Your life story mirrors the resilience of the African spirit and doggedness for which Nigerians are well known.

“On behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, I congratulate you and rejoice with you, your family and the AfDB family on this well-deserved honour,” Buhari said to Adesina through Adesina, his media aide.

A congratulatory letter sent to Adesina and signed by US Vice President, Michael Pence, described Adesina as a man whose “devotion to the cause of fighting global hunger is admirable and deeply needed.”

In it Pence said: “As our global food system is stretched and the need to feed more people grows, agricultural transformation will require persistence from leaders like you in driving change and capitalising on public and private sector expertise.”

In a moving acceptance speech, Adesina thanked three Nigerian presidents for his looming stature – Obasanjo for nominating him as minister, Jonathan for appointing him same, and Buhari for strongly supporting his candidature as AfDB President – a platform that gave him leverage for the laureate.

He said: “I hereby commit my 250,000 dollars as a fund fully dedicated to providing financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture to feed Africa.

“A day is coming very soon when the barns of Africa will be filled and all her children will be well fed; when millions of farmers will be able to send their kids to school.

“Then you will hear a new song across Africa; thank God our lives are better for us” Adesina said.

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