Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor has called for the immediate declaration of a state of emergency on erosion ravaging several parts of the country so as to comprehensively tackle the menace.
The minister who was accompanied by the deputy governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke on inspection of some erosion sites recently in Anambra state, vowed that: “We are coming in with renewed vigor, and every sense of urgency to make sure that remediation is carried out on erosion sites in Nigeria. From what I have seen, there is need for a state of emergency to be declared on gully erosion in the country.
Ikeazor urgently required in view of the devastating effects of flood and gully erosion to lives, property and the ecosystem across the country.
“Anambra state is losing its landmass. People are losing their lives, and means of livelihood to erosion. I want to assure you that work is starting immediately, hence this inspection. All contractors will be put on their toes, as we work with both the State Government and host communities in this regards,” she said.
Speaking on the role of the citizenry in erosion prevention and management, the Minister, emphasized the need for continued public sensitization and awareness creation on waste management, afforestation and reduction in green gas emission.
She said: “We need to educate our people, because a larger percentage of the environmental challenges we are suffering today are man-made. We cannot blame everything on nature. What is happening to the climate today was caused by man.
During the inspection of Community Secondary School Obosi erosion site, Ikeazor bemoaned the devastating impact of gully erosion on the school and assured that urgent steps must be taking to address the situation, saying that its disruption of education should not be tolerated.
“This is disrupting education and we cannot allow it. We ought to declare a state of emergency on erosion in Nigeria, and that is why I am here to get things done. We must get it done fast. What we are going to do differently this time around is to sustain intervention. You can see an intervention that was done on an erosion site in 2017, has given way because it was not sustained. We are going to make sure that sustainable remediation is carried out,” she stressed.
In his remarks, Dr. Okeke, expressed the readiness of the State Government to partner with FG in its renewed efforts at remediating erosion sites in the State.
“The State is always ready to partner with the Federal Government. Anambra is really suffering from gully erosion. We are the second smallest state in the federation. While Lagos is gaining landmass through reclamation from the sea, we are losing lands to gully erosion. Something needs to be done fast,” he said.
He stated further to appreciate the efforts of the federal government through NEWMAP World Bank assisted projects in the state, while expressing delight over the on-the-spot assessment of erosion sites in the State by the Minister.
He called on the federal government to do more because erosion has not only affected Anambra land mass, but has also affected the people who are daily losing properties and means of their livelihood to erosion.
The Traditional ruler of Obosi kingdom, Igwe Chidubem Iweka, while speaking on behalf of Obosi community, appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for finding an indigene of their community worthy of appointment as a minister of state, environment.
While describing her appointment as an act of God, Igwe Iweka, said: “We are very pleased that our daughter is now Minister of Environment. We are really expectant that there is silver linen at the end of the dark cloud. Now, we believe that something will be done finally about erosion and flooding that has devastated this community so much.
NBMA begins drafting of guidelines on genome editing
The National Biosafety Management Agency has begun drafting of guidelines for the proper regulation of genome editing in Nigeria.
The Director-General/CEO, National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, while speaking at the guideline drafting workshop in Abuja, said there is the need to have proper guidelines for regulation of genome editing which is an emerging aspect of modern biotechnology.
He stated that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari saw the need to regulate this emerging sector that has demonstrated strong potential to transform the country’s economy.
“The amendment of the NBMA Act, 2015 includes Synthetic Biology, Gene Editing, Gene Drive and Biosecurity and this is aimed at expanding the scope of the Agency’s mandate to regulate emerging technologies.”
Ebegba said “the expansion of the scope of responsibility of the Agency by the federal government is an indication of government’s firm resolve to ensure that any unintended effect that could result from the technology is nipped in the bud’’.
Principal Programme Officer for Environmental Biosafety and Coordinator of AUDA-NEPAD Office in Burkina Faso, Dr. Moussa Savadogo, lauded the Nigerian Biosafety system as the best in Africa noting that Nigeria is leading the continent in Modern Biotechnology regulation as the inclusion of gene drive and genome editing into the Biosafety Act was a good decision by the government.
He said “Science, technology and innovation are at the forefront of development and Nigeria’s decision to include emerging technologies in her Biosafety Act speaks of the country’s commitment to improve her economy and remain the giant of Africa”.
Senior programme officer with the NEPAD agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) Mr. Timpo highlighted the need for the genome editing workshop, as agreed by all African Union member States.
Mr. Sam Timpo said the regulation of modern biotechnology in Africa has great potential to help farmers overcome the many challenges being faced with their crops resulting from diseases and pests, added that the workshop will help the participants to understand guidelines of genome editing in other countries.
Head, Planning Research and Statistics Mrs. Bello Scholastica in her paper titled “Nigeria’s contribution to global negotiations on biosafety regulations”, explained Nigeria’s contribution to the past COP-MOP and the emergence of the NBMA DG/CEO as the chairman of the African Union Biosafety Regulators’ Forum.
Legal Adviser of the NBMA, Mrs. Nkeiruka Onyilofor Aja in her presentation titled “Key Provisions of the NBMA Act Including Recent Amendments to the Act 2015”, said the laws regulating Genetically Modified Organisms are strict and called for the need for individuals or institutions to seek permit before importing or exporting GMOs to avoid facing the wrath of the Law.
Accountability key to govt, private entities
The Director-General National Agency for The Great Green Wall (NAGGW), Dr. Bukar Hassan said that proper procurement process and procedures is essential for transparency and accountability of any responsible government or private entity.
He stated this when he declared open a two-day procurement training by the agency in Keffi, Nassarawa state.
Hassan who was represented by Director Procurement, Lawrence Oyadoye said that the training was meant to enhance the capacity of the staff as well as keep them abreast of the dynamics of Procurement Act, Bye-Laws and Executive Orders that constantly guide expenditures of contracts, consultancies, works, goods and services.
The training was designed for all the directors of departments and units and members of Parastatals Tenders Board (PTB) in the agency. Topics like Procurement Planning for Successful Budget Implementation, Procurement of Works, Goods, Consultancy of Technical Services, and Overview of Public Procurement amongst others were well treated by the resource persons.
According to Hassan, the public procurement was a creation of government by an Act of Parliament in 2007 which led to the establishment of Procurement Department in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, as a result, procurement has become one of the innovative ways of handling government business its importance to government and the Country cannot be overemphasized.
The Minister of State Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, accompanied by the Deputy Governor of Anambra state, Dr. Nkem Okeke on inspection tour of erosion sites in Anambra state (Umuatuora Enugwu-Ukwu)