The Nigerian Government has ratified Minamata Convention on Mercury and will ensure its effective implementation.
Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, said this at the Final Endorsement Workshop on the Minamata Convention Initial Assessment (MIA) project.
Jibril, who was represented by Dr Shehu Ahmed, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, recalled that the ministry submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the ratification of Minamata Convention on Mercury.
He said that FEC then ratified the convention and forwarded it to the Federal Ministry of Justice, adding that the ratification would facilitate the effective implementation of the convention.
Jibril said that the convention was negotiated by the global community, including Nigeria, between 2010 and 2013, adding that it was adopted and opened for signature on Oct. 10, 2013 at a diplomatic conference in Kumamoto, Japan.
He said that the Steering Committee on MIA was inaugurated on April 2015 to provide the overall guidance and coordination for the implementation of the project.
The minister said that the project was in line with the Federal Government’s sustainable development policy to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all Nigerians.
He said that the convention was aimed at promoting the use of alternatives, best available techniques and environmental practices across a wide range of products, processes and industries where mercury was used, released or emitted.
The minister noted that mercury, even though natural, was highly toxic to human health and the environment, adding that recent human activities had increased the level of mercury in the environment.
He said that mercury caused kidney, heart and respiratory problems, tremors, skin rashes, vision or hearing problems, headaches, weakness, memory and emotional challenges.
Jibril said that the objective of the project was to assist Nigeria in completing pre-ratification activities under the convention so as to facilitate policy and strategic decision making.
He said that the objective was also to prioritise areas for future interventions and facilitate the implementation of the convention.
He said that the ministry was collaborating with stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of the convention.
He said that the assessment report on institutional capacity gaps and barriers, in preparation for the implementation of the convention, had been achieved with the collaboration of the stakeholders.
Mr Mfon Bassey, who represented the Federal Ministry of Health, said that MIA represented a unique opportunity for the country to address not only mercury-related issues but also other socio-economic concerns.
He said that the ministry would continue to work closely with the Federal Ministry of Environment, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the media to ensure effective implementation of the project.
He, however, advised Nigerians to stay away from mercury-related activities so as to promote healthy living.