In a bid to implement the Minamata Convention which is aimed at reducing harmful effects of Mercury on lives and the environment, the Federal Government has met with stakeholders.
In his keynote address at the project inception workshop in Abuja organized by the Department of Pollution Control and Environmental Health, Federal Ministry of Environment with the support of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Abel Olumuyiwa Enitan noted that Nigeria is faced with a vast challenge of prevalence of mercury in the environment, and in products, particularly in the health and industrial sectors.
He said the inception Workshop flags off activities aimed at addressing actual challenges faced in the management of mercury in Nigeria and provide overall strategy for addressing its adverse effects.
According to him “Specifically, the project aims to develop a National Implementation Strategy (NIS) for mercury management, National Action Plans for the cement, mercury in products, trade and supply, waste, environment and health sectors as well as a Mercury Information System (MIS) to assist in reporting and information sharing among stakeholders.
“The National Implementation Strategy and Sectoral Action Plans will assist Nigeria to set priorities, coordinate actions, simplify decision-making, track progress toward compliance with the provision of the Convention. They will also create a platform for governments, private sector, multilateral institutions, and civil society to work together to coordinate actions to implement the provisions of the Convention.
He disclosed that the National Project Steering Committee (PSC) inaugurated for the Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) in Nigeria Project in 2015 has been resuscitated.
He said that the committee with membership drawn from government and non-governmental organizations will provide guidance and technical support to the Project Secretariat for effective implementation of project activities.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Director, Department of Pollution Control and Environmental Health, Charles Kanu Ikeah, said the project comes at a time of global concerns on increasing concentration of mercury in the environment and associated risks.
He said: “Currently, in most parts of the world including Nigeria, there is still high usage of mercury in industrial activities and it is also emitted in large quantities through various processes such as small-scale gold mining, coal combustion, oil extraction and refining and so on.
The Director noted that Nigeria has made good progress in addressing the problem posed by mercury in the past eight years of the Conventions existence, he however cautioned against complacency.
In various Goodwill messages, the stakeholders commended the efforts of the government, while pledging their support.
The workshop was attended by the academia, NGOs, representatives of foreign bodies, private sector, etc.
Nigeria signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury on 10th October 2013 in Japan and ratified it on 1st February 2018 to protect the populace and Environment from the deleterious effects of Mercury.