The director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has said the safety of Nigerians and the environment in the realization of government objectives in the diversification of the economy towards the actualization of green economy is the agency’s topmost priority.
He stated this at a one-day sensitization workshop on the state of biosafety in Nigeria in Lagos, pointing out that the Federal Government through the agency was committed to the safety of all Nigerians.
“I want to assure you all that whatever the agency says is safe is indeed safe. Nigerians should learn to trust the federal government and allow the agency do what will be in their best interest. Nigerians need not be afraid as their health and wellbeing are paramount in the mind of the agency as they relate to biosafety.
“The NBMA has not been resting on its oars in ensuring that only safe and approved genetically modified seed and grains for food and feed processing are allowed into the Nigerian market hence the constant upgrading of our GM detection and analysis laboratory and our constant inspection of GMO facilities, confined field trial sites and multi-locational trial sites. This is for proper surveillance, tracking and monitoring of GMOs in Nigeria,” he said.
In his remarks, the head, African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, said NBMA was known for its proactive initiatives, which had firmly secured Nigeria’s position on the global map regarding biosafety regulation.
“NBMA has earned the reputation of developing regulatory instruments and adopting processes that are informed by international best practices and which serve as reference resources across the world. This sensitization forum is yet another impactful initiative – educating key stakeholders on biosafety regulation. This notable action will enhance effective regulation, driven by meaningful multi-sectoral collaboration, for the benefit of the people.”
Represented by the agency’s programme officer, Modupe Adeyemo, Ouedraogo reiterated the commitment of AUDA-NEPAD to promoting strategic partnerships and providing appropriate support that would have a transformative impact on Nigeria and the continent – in this case improved health and well-being of humans, animals, plants and environment, being the ultimate outcomes of well-functioning biosafety regulatory systems.
Earlier, the Lagos State commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, restated the commitment of the Lagos State health sector to partner the agency in the achievement of its mandate.
Represented by Dr. Bamidele Mutiu, Abayomi commended the giant strides of the agency while stating that the agency was making great efforts in ensuring that Nigerians are safe and protected from any unapproved GMO.
A statement by the NBMA head of information and communications department, Gloria Ogbaki, said the workshop which had in attendance various stakeholders from the agriculture, health, legal sectors, Nigerian farmers and the media was aimed at sensitizing Nigerians on the state of biosafety in the country with regard to genetically modified organisms and their safety, while updating the general public on the activities of government in the area of biosafety management in the country.