By Yakubu Salisu
The Honorable Minister, Federal Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation, Sen. Adeleke O. Mamora, said, the Federal Government has put in place, mechanisms to combat the effects of handling toxic materials by unskilled chemical practitioners in the country by formulating a policy document that would sanitize the system.
The Minister who spoke in Kano on Friday during a two-day Stakeholders Validation/Workshop on the Draft National Policy on Chemical Technology Document, said, President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the ministry to create ideas about strengthening the populace and draft policies that will empower entrepreneurs in the country especially the teeming populace that are out of job and also safeguard the health and lives of chemical practitioners in Nigeria.
Speaking shortly after a field visit, the Minister, represented by the Director, Chemical Technology, and Senior Technical Adviser to the Minister, Federal Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation, M.E.J Bassey, expressed worry over how toxic chemicals are being mishandled as well as what he described ‘disorganization’ amongst the chemical practitioners.
“Mr. President has asked us to create ideas about strengthening the populace and policies that will empower the entrepreneurs in the country especially the teeming populace that are out of job.
We have designed the policy and the Minister of science Tech and innovation, Sen. Adeleke Mamora sent us to continue the workshop on producing a policy document on chemical technology. So, part of the documentation aspect of the policy will be to have site visits to ensure participants really know what we are talking about when we see the chaos in the management of chemicals within communities.
During our visits, you saw the health challenges involved in handling these chemicals, mortality cases; you saw how the chemicals were mishandled by young boys and children that should be in school and how disorganized the system is and the impact of these toxic materials in the hands of unskilled chemical practitioners.
We wanted to have a better view of the situation on the field and it is this data that would be used to validate this document on chemical policy which we are on the process of validating as one of the mile stones of this current administration”.
Bassey, expressed optimism that the Policy Document would be endorsed in the coming weeks which will provide laws to be able to build capacity, train and produce.
“We hope the president will endorse the policy document and then we would immediately start on strategic plans and while on strategic plans, we would have household surveys to see how to build clusters and see how to make them better informed, that is capacity building and then put them into better clusters and at the end of the day you will see all the indicators, all social economic indicators for developing countries will begin to have impact and effect”, Bassey added.
The Chairman, Galadima Market Chemical Practitioners, Kano Mustapha Sha’aibu Suleman applauded the moves by the Federal Government noting that the coming of the delegation has further exposed them to things they were not aware of hitherto.
“It is a good thing that the FG is working to sanitize the sector through which we believe more job opportunities will be created.
Mr. Bassey lectured us on the dangers of handling these chemicals without gloves, facemasks and other protective wears.
We never knew inhaling some of these chemicals could gradually lead to cancer until now.
While we look forward to seeing initiatives that would drive the sector forward, we would immediately adopt measures to protect ourselves and our immediate environment and also adopt best methods of preserving our products which we have been taught loses their potency due to bad method of preservation while others become highly toxic to human health and the environment due to exposure to unfavorable conditions”, Sha’aibu assured.
Places visited by the delegation in Kano include; Galadima Chemical Market, Makafin Kofar Wambai Tannery, Kofar Mata Dye Pit, Federal Institute of industrial Research, Sharada and Gidan Makama Museum.