The Federal Government has expressed its determination to combat marine pollution caused by oil spillage in many areas across the country.
The Minister of Environment, Laurentia Mallam, disclosed this while receiving a letter of approval for Nigeria to host the Regional Coordinating Centre to Combat Marine Pollution in West, Central and South Africa.
The letter, according to a statement from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), was handed over to the minister by the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Coordinator on Abidjan Convention, Mr. Abou Bamba, in Abuja.
Mallam said that the hosting of the centre was an advantage to Nigeria, adding that it would build more capacity and technical competence to tackle marine pollution in Nigeria and beyond.
She said, “The regional headquarter is an advantage to us and this shows that if we did not have the technology and the capability to handle it, they wouldn’t have come to us.”
She assured UNEP coordinator that the government would provide an office space for the centre to commence its operation in six months time.
In his remark, Bamba, who is also the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, said the hosting of the headquarters in Nigeria was another step ahead in tackling marine pollutions in the region.
According to Bamba, this would also speed up the clean up of Ogoniland.
He said the Abidjan Convention would provide adequate logistics to make the centre succeed.
He said the UNEP and the FG would meet to discuss the memorandum of understanding that would be signed between the government and the Abidjan Convention for the establishment of the centre.
Bamba said “The Abidjan Convention will provide adequate office space, staffing, materials and equipment, and the convention would cover the initial and recurring operational costs needed for the centre.
“In the meantime, I will be pleased to visit the installations which will host the centre and report back to the UNEP on the major findings and observations. We estimate that in six months from now, the centre should be operational and start its first assessment activities.
“Nigeria is not by its own, the Abidjan Convention and UNEP will support as much as they can to make this unique experience a success.”
Bamba said with the new status, Nigeria would be in charge of the coordination of combating trans-boundary marine pollution from Mauritania to South Africa.
The Director-General, NOSDRA, Mr. Peter Idabor, said that the hosting of the centre would enhance the country’s capability to tackle marine pollution.
Idabor said that the Atlantic Ocean was a common factor in the area of marine pollution to all member countries.
He explained that the convention, which had 22 member countries, is one of the African regional Sea Conventions administered by UNEP.