The Director General/Chief Executive Officer 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 for consideration and approval.
Dr. Ebegba, while making the presentation in Abuja on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, said that the policy is critical to ensuring that harmful biological agents are contained so that they 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 today has become a reality, signifies a huge milestone for the agency and indeed Nigerians as it is a document that focuses on National security.”
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 realise its established goal and expressed profound gratitude to the commitment of the line ministries, agencies and departments, NGOs and international partners that ensured a quality policy document that was presented.
“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 added.
Speaking after the handover of the adopted policy, the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, who was represented by Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Stanley Jonah, said that the adoption of this policy document by the 92 competent bodies of experts, guarantees the protection of Nigeria and its environment from maliciously intended 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 discuss and decisive measures have been recommended as it concerns laws and policies that can guide human activities especially as the quest for ingenious means to overcome myriad of challenges confronting the contemporary society is ongoing. She noted that the world today faces increase in the number of infectious diseases and to tackle this, all hands must be on deck even as governments stand to their responsibilities.
‘’I am honestly ecstatic for 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 wellbeing of all Nigerians. Also, this document is expected to provide the framework for integration and harmonization of bio security strategies that would be implemented through one-health approach,” she said.
The Minister of State added that she would present the policy document to the Federal Executive Council for further necessary actions and promised to ensure seamless implementation of the policy as she will give every bit of support to its implementation.
She noted that the establishment of the National Biosafety Management Agency is timely and further delay could have made Nigeria and its environment highly vulnerable to bio-threats and other harmful practices of using cutting-edge modern technology to address global social-economic challenges.
The European Union representative, Maja Boskovovic, said the adopted policy document is in line with the global effort to checkmate signs of biosecurity threats across the world by way of nipping in the bud such orchestrated plan.
“This meeting today depicts the position of the African continent in the world and its preparedness to ward off bio-threats,” she said.
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.
He noted that Nigeria is taking the lead position in Africa and the document would fill the gap on the continent. He stated that the African continent is proud of this momentous achievement as they all look forward to seeing its implementation.
The two-day event (September 28 and 29), which saw the finalisation, 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 who participated both virtually and physically.