The director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, has presented the finalised and adopted Draft National Biosecurity Policy and action plan to the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration and approval.
While making the presentation in Abuja, yesterday (September 29), Ebegba said the policy is critical to ensuring that harmful biological agents are not used to cause harm to human health and the environment.
“The adoption of this draft policy document and action plan which has been in the works for over a year and has become a reality today, signifies a huge milestone for the agency and, indeed, Nigerians, as it is a document that focuses on national security,” he said.
The draft policy document has been under review by line MDAs and experts, including security agencies.
He commended the unwavering support of the Federal Government to make the agency realize its established goal and expressed profound gratitude to the commitment of the line ministries, agencies and departments, NGOs and international partners that ensured quality policy document that was presented today.
“For the few years of its existence, NBMA has been able to set templates in relation to laws and policy guidance on the issue of modern biotechnology and its emerging areas and these feats are recognised globally,” he stated.
Speaking after the handover of the adopted policy, Ikeazor, represented by the director, planning, research and statistics, Stanley Jonah, said that the adoption of the policy by the 92 competent bodies of experts, guarantees the protection of Nigeria and her environment from the malicious use of harmful biological substances to cause harm to human health and the environment.
She noted that the issue of bio threats has remained at the forefront in the global community discourse and decisive laws and policies guiding human activities is ongoing. She noted that the world faces increase in the number of infectious diseases and, to tackle this, all hands must be on deck and governments standing up to their responsibilities.
‘’I am honestly ecstatic over the concerted effort of the various stakeholders to produce this policy document. Let me assure you that your efforts will not be in vain and I must see to it that the president gives it due consideration for the security and well-being of all Nigerians. Also, this document is expected to provide the framework for integration and harmonisation of bio-security strategies that would be implemented through one-health approach,’’ she said.
Ikeazor added that she will present the policy document to the Federal Executive Council for necessary actions and promised to ensure seamless implementation of the policy, as she will give every bit of support towards its implementation.
She noted that the establishment of the agency is timely and further delay could have made Nigeria and her environment highly vulnerable to bio-threats and other harmful practices.
A statement by NBMA’s head, media and communications, Gloria Ogbaki, said the European Union representative Maja Boskovovic said the adopted policy document is in line with global effort to checkmate signs of bio-security threats across the world by way of nipping such orchestrated plans in the bud.
“This meeting depicts the position of the African continent in the world and her preparedness to ward off bio-threats,” she said.
The AUDA-NEPAD representative, Jeremy Ouedraogo, commended the effort of the NBMA and, particularly, the director-general, for drafting the policy document which was fine-tuned to be a national document today.
He noted that Nigeria is taking the lead in Africa and the document will fill the gap in a continent proud of the nation’s momentous achievement, as they all look forward to the implementation.
The two-day event (September 28 and 29) which saw the finalization, adoption and presentation of the National Biosecurity Policy and Action Plan had in attendance over 120 participants drawn from all the security agencies in the country, sister agencies, line ministries/departments, farmers association, institutions, non-governmental organisations and international partners virtually and physically.