The Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Dr. Rufus Ebegba has expressed hope that in the next five years, the agency will be seen as very strong in Africa.
Dr. Ebegba said this during a 2-day stakeholders meeting to review the draft National guidelines on Genetically Modified (GM) fish, trees, animals and mosquitoes, in Abuja on the 1 l&12th of Oct 2022, stressing that the essence of subjecting the documents to stakeholders review was to ensure that the documents were strong enough to aid in the regulation of new and emerging technologies and to ensure that Nigeria and the NBMA are prepared when the need to check for the safety of these new technologies emerged.
According to him, “NBMA is the competent national authority for biosafety matters in Nigeria, putting in place necessary measures to ensure biosecurity and provide a regulatory framework to adequately safeguard human health and environment from its potential adverse effect.”
’’The stakeholders review of GM fish, trees and mosquitoes is to ensure a holistic document that is easy to understand or comprehend by the public, (other) stakeholders and those wishing to carry out these activities in Nigeria.”
Dr. Ebegba stressed that, ”We want to always be on top of our game on any issue concerning Biosafety in Nigeria and these guidelines will aid in driving the process of biosafety issues in Nigeria.
“We constantly train our staff to be competent enough to drive the affairs of the Nigerian Biosafety system. Striving to continually be on top in the biosafety space, we give room for growth by training and retraining the NBMA staff as they are eager to learn from stakeholders and other experts in the field. “Learning is a Dynamic process, so also biosafety”. Dr. Ebegba maintained.
He also reiterated the agency’s readiness to ensure safety of food and environment in the country.
In a remark, representative of, AUDA-NEPAD, Samuel Timpo commended NBMA for its activities which are aligned with the African Union.
Timpo commended NBMA for its diversity and teamwork having deemed it fit to collaborate with stakeholders in all its guidelines review.
He said the agency was transparent in all its decisions on issues of biosafety, pointing out that, “NBMA has nothing to hide because most of its decisions are posted publicly on its website,” Timpo.
He explained that NBMA is known for integrity and impartiality especially on how its biosafety issues are reviewed.
“They allow African countries to ask questions on the review of guidelines. This shows that they are fair to all,” Timpo said.
He further emphasised that the agency was accountable and efficient while commending it for professionalism in handling the
issues of biosafety in Africa. Outlining the meeting’s objectives, expected outcomes and the overview of the draft national guidelines on GM fish Head, Planning and Research, NBMA, Bello Scholastica said that the review of the agency’s guidelines was to prevent any adverse effect on human health, animals, plants and the environment.
Scholastica assured that the meeting would correct errors and capture omissions to enable robust, complete, accurate guidelines.
She explained that the meeting would come out with non contradictory, practicable, and easy to understand guidelines to be applied by players.
The 2-day meeting saw various stakeholders from line ministries, sister agencies and departments actively and critically going through the documents to ensure very clean guidelines for the proper regulation of GM trees, animals, fish and mosquitoes.
Concluding, Dr. Rufus Ebegba DG/CEO NBMA said, “I challenge us all to the NBMA 5-year goal; I believe this will be attained.”