By Muhammed Yakubu
Three major policy decisions were taken on Wednesday in Abuja at the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
They are the approval of the National Policy on Plastic Waste Management, the establishment of a National Council for Traditional and Alternative Medicine and complementary medicine practice in Nigeria, and measures to boost Nigeria’s membership of the International Coffee Organisation.
On the Plastic Waste Management to boost the nation’s economy, the Minister of Environment, Alhaji Muhammad Mahmood, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the 20th virtual Council meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said “Three months ago, we presented a memo on solid waste management. Plastic, being one of the compositions of total waste, has a significant place in the total waste regime because of its non-biodegradable nature and we have plastics littered all over the place, causing an environmental hazard to both humans and animals.
“What this policy seeks to do is to seize the opportunity of our paradigm shift from linear to a circular economy. The standard procedure in the past was, you produce, you use and dispose and we just realised that we cannot continue to do that as plastic has lent itself to recycling or reuse.
“Therefore, what this policy intends to achieve is to capitalise on that property of it being reused,” the Minister explained.
Mahmood maintained that already the Ministry of Environment had built some plastic recycling plants across the country, which will serve as a pilot scheme.
According to him, the private sector will have the opportunity to dominate the recycling plants, saying that plastic waste is the second form of waste the country needs to deal with.
He, however, stated that plastic could be recycled to produce blocks, new plastics and palettes for the production of interlocks and many more uses.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who also addressed the correspondent, said the Council approved a bill on the establishment of a National Council for Traditional and Alternative Medicine and complementary medicine practice in Nigeria.
According to the minister, the bill seeks to take traditional and complementary medicine out of obscurity and institutionalise it.
Ehanire noted that the emergence of Coronavirus had renewed the call for home-grown solutions to public health diseases as well as to find the value in traditional medicines.
“It will also provide the opportunity for the possibility of training, setting up institutions and also being able to research further, in collaboration with the Institute of Pharmaceutical Research of Nigeria, to actually dig out the values that are in our traditional medicine, where they can be used,” he added.
The minister said the proposed law, when approved, will also help to protect the intellectual property of traditional medicine practitioners in the country.
Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, revealed that the Council ratified Nigeria’s membership of the International Coffee Organisation.
According to him, the ratification gives Nigeria a full membership status at the organization, although it signed the agreement in 2008.
“We signed the International Coffee Agreement in 2008 and up till now (Oct. 21) Nigeria has not ratified this agreement and the result of not having ratified, gave us only observer status in the organisation and unfortunately there are a lot of things that come with full membership that the country had been missing on,” he said.
The Minister said the ratification will now afford the country the opportunity to benefit more from the organisation and be actively involved in creating policies on coffee trade worldwide.
“The benefits that will come to the country include the allocation of coffee development project, access to consultative fora on coffee sector finance, where our farmers will have access to funds to improve farm yields and boost coffee production in Nigeria,’’ he said.
According to the minister, Nigeria has a lot of coffee growers in all the geo-political zones of the country, with over a million farmers involved. (NAN)