Senate moves to provide legal backing for Atomic Energy Commission

THE Nigerian Senate has taken steps to provide legal support for the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), which was established 46 years ago.

At a public hearing on Thursday, April 27, the Senate Committee on Science and Technology said the move is intended to align the Commission with current global dynamics.

The two bills discussed at the public hearing were the ‘Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) Act (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill 2022’, and the ‘Nigerian Content in Programmes, Contracts, Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (Establishment) Bill, 2023’.

In her opening remarks, Chairperson of the Senate committee Senator Uche Ekwunife said the passage of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission Act (repeal and reenactment) was crucial for the advancement of the science and technology sector.

She noted that the original Act was passed 46 years ago in 1976, and since then, no legislative steps had been taken to update the Commission to reflect current global realities.

Ekwunife went on to explain that the bill aimed to repeal the Atomic Energy Commission Act (CAP.N91) Laws of the Federation to streamline its provisions.

She stressed that the bill would ensure the Commission can implement the National Nuclear Programme in accordance with international standards and Nigeria’s obligations under relevant international legal instruments.

Ekwunife explained that the repeal of the Act was not intended to encourage negative use of nuclear power, such as armament, but rather for peaceful purposes, including medical diagnoses and others.

She said that the repeal of the Act would also enable the Commission to explore and harness atomic energy for sustainable national development.

The Nigerian Content in Programmes, Contracts, Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation Bill, which was also discussed at the hearing, aims to develop domestic talent and indigenous capacity in science and technology.

NAEC Chairman, Yusuf Ahmed, observed that the decision to establish a nuclear programme in Nigeria represents a long-term commitment to safety.

He, however, noted that the lack of a legal framework had significantly impeded the Commission’s ability to harness the potential of atomic energy.



    Ahmed urged the Senate to amend Section 2 of the NAEC Bill, which addresses the Commission’s leadership structure.

    He said the move could scale up Nigeria’s quest and ability to generate large amounts of electricity with a relatively small amount of fuel even as it seeks to expand its power generation capacity.

    Currently, Nigeria relies heavily on fossil fuels to meet its power needs. However, the use of atomic energy could reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and help to mitigate the environmental impact of energy generation.

    Additionally, as noted in the draft bill, atomic energy has many other applications beyond electricity generation. It can be used in medical diagnostics and treatment, agriculture, and industry, among other areas.

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