NATIONAL BIOSAFETY MANAGEMENT AGENCY STRUCTURE
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed into law the National Biosafety Management Agency Bill 2015 on the 18th of April 2015, after been passed by the National Assembly.
The Biosafety law is to domesticate the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and to provide a Legal and Administrative Framework for the practice and domestication of Modern Biotechnology and to ensure safe use of genetically modified organisms in Nigeria. The law includes the establishment of a National Biosafety Management Agency to manage the Act. It is also sets out to provide a regulatory framework to reconcile the respective needs of international trade and environmental protection with respect to a rapidly growing global modern biotechnology industry. The Agency was established through the National Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015. It is an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Environment. The Agency is charged with the responsibility for providing regulatory framework, institutional and administrative mechanisms for safety measures in the application of modern biotechnology in Nigeria with the view to preventing any adverse effect on human health, animals, plants and environment. The establishment of the Agency is a sign of Nigeria commitment to Global Biodiversity Conservation and Biosafety.
The details of the NBMA’s functions specified in part II of the Act are as follow:
(a) To formulate overall policy guidance on issues of Biosafety in Nigeria;
(b) Implement the provisions of the Conventions and the Protocols on matters relating to genetically Modified Organisms;
(c) Render reports to the Secretariat of the Convention on the implementation of the Convention and Protocol on matter relating to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms;
(d) Develop measures and requirements and criteria for Biosafety risk assessment peer review and decision making;
(e) Develop measures and requirements for Biosafety risk assessment;
(f) Develop risk management plan and strategy for protecting human health, biological diversity and the environment from potential risks associated with genetically modified organisms;
(g) Accept and verity applications in respect of genetically modified organisms and keep records of all approvals and unapproved application as contained in Part VIII. Subsection 24 (1);
(h) Take samples and carry out laboratory analysis of crops, products or materials for purposes of determining if they contain genetically modified organisms and ensure compliance with this Act;
(i) Carry out actions necessary to ensure compliance with the legal obligations set out in the Act, including, but not limited to, the inspection of facilities, conduct research activities with genetically modified organisms covered by the Act, the collection and analysis of samples of materials covered by the Act, the monitoring of human health and the environment to determine the effects of genetically modified organisms regulated by the Act;
(j) Liaise with the secretariat of the convention and the Biosafety clearing house with respect to the administrative functions required under the Protocol;
(k) Carry out and maintain inventory of laboratories with physical and human capacities to conducts research in modern biotechnology;
(l) Monitor the activities of institutional committees and Biosafety officers;
(m) Build, equip, and maintain offices and premises for the performance of its action under the Act;
(n) Pay remuneration, allowances, expenses and any other benefit to members of the Board and employees of the Agency or any other persons, in accordance with the National Salaries, income and Wages Commission;
(o) Carry out capacity building activities;
(p) Perform other duties as may be necessary for the full discharge of its functions under this Act, and
(q) Partner with other relevant local and international agencies for the speedy realization of the Agency’s mandate.
The Act has opened new ground for diversification of the Nigerian Economy in line
with the Change Agenda of the present Administration which is aimed at enhancing socio-economic development of the country. Some of the benefits to be derived by Nigeria under the enabling biosafety law include safety in the practice of modern biotechnology for:
- Increased productivity and improvement in the agricultural sector leading to accruing more income to farmers and enhanced national economic prosperity;creation of jobs and wealth;
- Availability of raw materials for industrial development, especially in the Nigerian textile sector;
- Freedom to innovate safely in modern biotechnology sector;
- Production of plants or organisms that can reduce the impact of climate change and assist pollution remediation;
- Improvement in medical sector;
- Increased foreign investment earnings from safe modern biotechnology sector;
- Environmental safety and sustainability;
1. JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THE CREATION OF THE PROPOSED DEPARTMENTS
The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act 2015 empowers the NBMA to formulate overall policy guidance on issues concerning Biosafety in Nigeria and to implement the National Biosafety Management Agency Act. The Agency reconciles the need for safety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in international and national trade as well as biodiversity conservation in order to enhance a rapidly growing modern biotechnology industry in Nigeria for the enhancement of the Nigerian Economy. Essentially, the Agency is charged with responsibility for providing regulatory framework, institutional and administrative mechanisms for safety measures in the application of modern biotechnology in Nigeria, with the view to preventing any adverse effect on human health, animals, plants and environment.
The Agency in addition to its functions listed in part II of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act 2015, regulates activities of Agencies/Institutes like the National Biotechnology Development Agency, National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi, Agricultural Research Institute, Zaria, National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research, Veterinary Research Institute, Jos, Universities, Local and International Companies and organisations that deal on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) etc. The Agency approves and monitors the release of GMOs and ensures safety to the environment and human health.
As a regulatory Agency that scrutinizes the activities of these various bodies listed above, it is therefore imperative for the Agency to have a good number of Departments and Units to enable it adequately monitor and guide their activities, with a view to ensuring safety of human health, animals, plants and environment in Nigeria.
Part III (4) of the Act empowered the NBMA to have such departments as it may deem appropriate (see a copy of the Act and a gazette). The Agency presently has a Director-General appointed by the President of Nigeria as well as two (2) Assistant Directors and Forty-seven (47) Officers drawn from the Biosafety Unit of the Federal Ministry of Environment, and other Departments. The Departments of the Agency as reflected in the Organogram and their functions are as follows:
I. Department of Environmental Biosafety and Commercial Release
II. Department of Containment and Confinement
III. Department of Biosafety Enforcement and Operations
IV. Department of Socio-Economic and Food Safety
V. Department of Planning, Research and Statistics
VI. Department of Human Resource Management
VII. Department of Administration and Finance