By FUNMI OLASUPO
Abuja – FEDERAL Government has accepted to host the headquarters of the Regional Coordination Center, RCC, to combat marine pollution in West, Central and Southern Africa said United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
This followed a nomination by the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Abidjan Convention that Nigeria out of four countries that indicated interest.
The Executive Secretary, Abidjan Convention Mr. Abou Bamba during the official notification of the nomination to the Minister of Environment Mrs. Lawrentia Mallam, yesterday, in Abuja, explained that Nigeria will be in charge of the Coordination of combating trans-boundary marine pollution from Mauritania to South Africa, that is, the 22 countries of the Abidjan Convention.
His words, “Nigeria has coastline of 853 km, 9000 km of navigable inland waterways, 6th largest oil producer in the world, oil exploration began in the 1930s and production commenced in 1956.
“We are talking here about 50 years of experience in marine pollution management. There were 12 criteria party to the Abidjan Convention, political stability, qualified and capable staff and an already established similar national center which Nigeria has.
“We estimate that in 6 months from now the centre must be operational and start the first assessment activities.
“Nigeria is not by its own, the Abidjan Convention and UNEP will support as much as we can to make this unique experience a success.”
Responding, the Minister of Environment Mrs. Lawrentia Mallam assured the delegation that Nigeria is equal to the task of hosting the Centre with the caliber of potentials the country possesses.
Mrs. Mallam assured that the government would comply with the diplomatic notification of the Convention and will be ready to support the noble cause.
The minister said “the sitting of the marine pollution centre here in Nigeria will give us an added advantage to tackle the issue of oil pollution and gas flaring in the country.”
Also speaking, the Director General National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Sir Peter Idabor said the centre which is meant to collect and disseminate relevant information on marine pollution will help in the fight against oil pollution and gas flaring in the country.
The DG stated further that the function of the centre is also to initiate, design and assist in the running of national and regional training courses and exercise, to facilitate and coordinate international assistance in case of emergency.
The Centre according to him will foster scientific and technical co-operation with UN specialized agencies, intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations.