The director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Agnes Asagbra has expressed the agency’s determination to resist any action that could hinder Nigeria’s ongoing advancements in biosafety.
Asagbra, who was speaking during a meeting with the executive director of AATF, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, emphasised the importance of collaboration with like-minded stakeholders in the field of modern biotechnology to safeguard Nigeria’s leading position in biosafety on the African continent.
Asagbra, who assumed office on May 2, 2023, following the retirement of Dr. Rufus Ebegba, the pioneer director-general of NBMA, acknowledged the solid foundation laid by her predecessor in regulating modern biotechnology in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. She stressed the need to maintain the level of protection established in the safe transfer, handling, and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology.
“As the new director-general, I fully understand the concerns of stakeholders,” Dr. Asagbra stated. “Under Dr. Ebegba’s leadership, significant progress was made in establishing regulations for modern biotechnology in Nigeria and Africa. I assure you that we will build upon these achievements and address any areas that require improvement.”
Asagbra also recognised the contributions of AATF in establishing one of the most robust biosafety regulatory frameworks in Africa. She appealed to stakeholders to support the agency’s campaign for biosafety and biosecurity in Nigeria, emphasising the collective responsibility of safeguarding the nation’s population and environment.
Highlighting the agency’s commitment to safety, Asagbra stated that the NBMA would continue to ensure the protection of GMOs for the well-being of humans, animals, and the environment, ultimately benefiting the economy. Additionally, she emphasised the agency’s role in coordinating comprehensive biosecurity measures across Nigeria.
Congratulating Asagbra on her appointment, Kanangire recognised her leadership in promoting the science-based management of modern biotechnology and its products in Nigeria. He praised her experience, knowledge, and passion as a microbiologist, underscoring their value to the agency’s mission and accomplishments. Also, Kanangire assured continued collaboration between AATF and NBMA to strengthen the biosafety system for the benefit of Nigerians and the environment.
He noted that NBMA is one of the most respected biosafety regulatory institutions on the African continent and has effectively regulated the deployment of pod-borer resistant cowpea, Bt Cotton and Bt Maize which are life-transforming technologies as testified by smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
In a statement issued by AATF’s communication officer, Alex Abutu, Kanangire reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to working alongside NBMA in enhancing the biosafety landscape in Nigeria, ensuring the well-being of the nation and its natural resources.