Nigeria is to ratify the Minamata Convention in August, which is aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury, an official, has said.
A Deputy Director in charge of Chemical Management in the Ministry of Environment, Idris Goji, said this in an interview in Abuja on Wednesday.
Mr. Goji said that Nigeria had in October 10, 2013 signed the convention, which would now be ratified in August.
“One hundred and twenty eight countries and the European Union have so far signed the Convention.
“The convention is borne-out of concern for human health and the environment.
“It sets out to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
“Towards this goal, it covers a large set of technical issues related to the production, use, trade, emissions, and releases of mercury,’’ he said.
Mr. Goji said that Nigeria had developed a work plan on the process of ratifying the convention and that the process would be completed in August.
He said that the ministry organised a stakeholder meeting last December, noting the ministry had also agreed to work with the Ministry of Justice on the ratification process.
“The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is helping Nigeria in the process of ratifying and implementing the convention.
“We are collaborating with UNITAR by funding some initial activities to enable Nigeria ratify the convention and the fund is coming from the government of Switzerland.
“We have commenced the process of carrying out those activities, identify sources of mercury in the country and document those activities that are associated with mercury,’’ he said.
The official said that some of the activities carried out by the ministry were on the various sources of mercury in the country that have been polluting the environment.
“The problem with mercury also is that it is a persistent chemical, meaning that it is not easily degraded so that is why it has become a focus internationally.
“So, that is why mercury is the focus globally to make sure that mercury is either eliminated or managed properly.’’
In addition, he said that Nigeria was working hard to implement the tenets of the new global instrument as enunciated in the text of the Convention.
“The Minamata Convention is part of a cluster of agreement on hazardous substances and wastes, together with the Rotterdam, Basel, and Stockholm Conventions.
“These earlier treaties similarly took off with modest beginnings just as the Minamata Convention is doing now, but their Conference of Parties (COPs) have strengthen each of their mandates over time.
“They (COPs) have also demonstrated that it is possible to make valuable progress towards better environmental and human health protection during the implementation.’’
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty signed in October 2013 to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.
The convention is named after Japanese city of Minamata, which experienced a decade-long outbreak of severe mercury poisoning after industrial wastewater from a chemical factory was discharged into Minamata bay.
The wastewater contained methyl mercury, a highly toxic mercury compound, which bio-accumulated in fish and shellfish in the bay, local people who consumed seafood from Minamata Bay became very sick, and many also died from the effects.