A don, Prof. Christian Madu, on Monday advocated strict chemical security and management in Nigeria and Africa to check the rising incidents of insurgency in the continent.
Madu, a former Director of the Centre for Environmental Management and Green Energy at the University of Nigeria (UNN), told newsmen in Enugu that there was a need to ensure that unauthorized non-state actors do not have access to chemicals.
According to him, unauthorized non-state actors should never have access to chemicals to avoid large-scale destruction that will kill innocent people and destroy critical infrastructure.
He noted that the protection of chemicals involves streamlining the supply chain from procurement through to disposal and/or recycling of chemicals to ensure security and that the chemicals are not intercepted by unauthorized users.
Madu, who was recently invited to train participants from Ukraine on developing a curriculum in chemical safety and security management to protect Ukraine’s chemical-related critical infrastructure, said: “Chemical safety deals with safe handling of hazardous chemicals to avoid chemical accidents and reduce health risks and damage to the environment.”
“The aim in both chemical safety and security is to prevent, detect, and properly respond to chemical accidents and/or chemical security threats.
Chemical safety investigates issues on how to store chemicals, expiration issues, inventory, and disposal of unused chemicals.
“Attention is paid to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety data sheets (SDS).
The primary goal is the safety of chemical users or handlers, and also the environment.
“Conversely, security of chemicals involves tracking the procurement process and the usage to make sure that the chemicals are not diverted to other purposes that may pose dangers to all.”
The don regretted that many non-state actors in the country, especially in the North-East, North-West, and other parts of the country, are changing their tactics and are increasingly becoming more violent, using chemical-induced Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to advance their extremists agenda.
He called for concerted efforts to prohibit access of chemicals from such non-state actors to avoid misusing such chemicals to kill and harm several people at the same time.
Madu, who will be joining other world experts in chemical safety and security management in a workshop in Italy, commended NAFDAC and Office of the National Security Adviser for ensuring that such chemicals are controlled and accounted for.
“Unfortunately, we have to do more since we have too many chemical merchants who have not fully understood that the chemicals they market for beneficial usage, may have a negative effect.
“Most chemicals are dual-use chemicals. It is therefore important not only to monitor the chemicals but also to know the mental and financial stability of those that have access to chemicals.
“People that have access to chemicals may be easily compromised and that will pose a threat to everyone,” he said.
The expert said that he had helped develop a Chemical Security and Management curriculum at the UNN, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria and Africa as well as assisted in developing a national curriculum for the course.
“I have gone to a conference in Cape Town, South Africa, to share it with other academics from other countries, especially African countries.
“I am hopeful that my colleagues in Nigeria, who recently participated in the webinar sessions I ran on the curriculum, will develop the programme in their respective institutions and I am always ready to assist.
“I have also trained critical mass at the UNN on chemical security management, and I hope they are put to use to strengthen the programme,” he said.
It would be recalled that Prof. Madu is a leader in the subject matter and an expert on Chemical Security Management in Nigeria and was instrumental in developing the first graduate programme on Chemical Security Management at the UNN.
Working on several grants from the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), Madu trained members of the Chemical Society of Nigeria in the six geopolitical zones of the country. He was honored with the Fellow of the Chemical Society of Nigeria.
In 2023, he worked on a grant to improve on and extend the curriculum for chemical security management in Nigeria; through this, a workshop was organised involving tertiary institutions from six geopolitical zones of the country, and the National University Commission (NUC)