The African Union Development Agency, formerly New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), says it is proud of the milestone achieved by National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA).
Mr Samuel Timpo, the Principal Programme Officer for African Bio-safety Network of Expertise (ABNE) of (AUDA-NEPAD), said this at a 3-day Training on Bio-safety Communication organised by the NBMA in collaboration with AUDA–NEPAD.
The training is for communication officers of line Ministries, Departments, Agencies and journalists, who are stakeholders in bio-safety issues.
“As a NEPAD agency, we are proud of the milestones Nigeria has achieved, indeed, in the international community, when you want Africa to speak up, Nigeria has been one of our backbones in delivering messages.
“We rely heavily on Nigeria as a backbone to lead bio-safety matters and chart the course as seen during the last COP-MOP, which was held in Egypt.
“So, we are also excited today about how to interact with sister agencies, so that we can address the issues of regulation.
He said that NEPAD had worked with the agency for almost a decade in the area of capacity building.
“We had journey with NBMA, it’s been almost a decade of building regulatory capacity and we hope to continue relying on Nigeria for leadership and clarity of what we want to achieve as a continent.
“This training workshop has two unique features, one is that we hope that each one of us will see him or herself as a trainer, so that beyond here you spread the message,
“The other part of it is a word borrowed from the bible “Iron sharpneth Iron” we are here to learn from our various experiences and come out better equipped to deal with the challenges of communicating bio-safety’’.
Timpo, however, assured the agency of NEPAD’s continuous partnership, which he hoped would become stronger and stronger.
Dr Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General of NBMA, while declaring open the training said that communication was key in bio-safety management.
“In bio-safety management, issues of communication are very important because when you talk about bio-safety, you are looking at it from the point of risk assessment, risk management and risk complications.
“ Communication is very much key because the information you give out to members of the public and stakeholders will determine the information they will go away with and this will also determine their perception of what to do.
“The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and their regulations have always been very contentious and communication is key to enable the public understand the system, and also douse their fears, especially the ones that are unfounded’’.
Ebegba said that the NEPA came to assist the agency to ensure that Nigeria’s bio-safety system was ready in the area of communication.
“Information should not just be for media houses to sell or make news available, some of these amount to serious misinformation.
“We have in our midst today communicators from various ministries and agencies and it is important that you know how to address members of the public.
“And also to know how to address those who have questions to ask and those who do not really believe in the technology.
The DG assured that the agency would ensure that Nigeria and its environment was safe from any possible effect of the modern technology.
“I want to also assure you that the agency will not shy away from its responsibility to tell the members of the public when we are convinced that the technology is safe, particularly after due diligence on the areas of risk assessment and risk management