Abuja - Dr Markus Avong, the Registrar,Veterinary Council of Nigeria
(VCN) has criticised Nigeria's absence in international trade in animal
and animal products.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on
Friday, Avong said that the country had not been able to meet the
regulatory standard of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE),
to participate in the trade.
According to him, a country can participate in the trade within the
World Trade Organisation (WTO) member-nations, only when the performance
of that country’s veterinary services met the OIE standards.
NAN reports that the OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.
It was created by an international agreement as the International
Office of Epizootic and known by its French acronym Office International
des Epizooties – OIE.
It is also recognised as a reference organisation by the WTO which supervises the trade.
The OIE, Avong said, sets the sanitary guidelines used by the WTO, of
which Nigeria is a member nation and therefore, must conform with.
“Nigeria currently is not capable of participating in trade in animal and animal products.
“No matter what number of animals we think we have, we cannot export
our products, legally, outside this country, because we are yet to meet
“And of course, meeting these conditions depends entirely, on the establishment of a robust veterinary service.”
He said that the guidelines, which has to do with “best veterinary
practises, stipulate that all member nations must have one statutory
This, he said, was to enable the profession curb the issue of “quackery” in animal health.
He maintained that the VCN is the recognised statutory regulatory body of veterinary medicine practice as stipulated by the OIE.
Avong recalled that the OIE team visited Nigeria in 2007 to assess
the performance of the council and discovered that para professionals,
which consist of veterinary surgeons, were not included in the scope of
VCN’s regulatory activity.
He said that the task to include the group was still pending in 2011
when the team came a second time; attributing this to the change of
power at the National Assembly.
He however, explained that as at then, the Council had already
submitted the bill to the National Assembly for the amendment of the
Veterinary Surgeons Act to capture the regulation of veterinary para
“Of course that bill did not sail through because it was still
pending in the Senate when the sixth session of the national assembly
rounded off its activities.
“And so as we are now, that bill is still pending.
NAN recalls that a Bill for an Act to regulate the practice and to
make provisions for the Animal Health Husbandry Technologists
Registration Board of Nigeria scaled the second reading at the Senate in
The Bill, sponsored by Sen. Ita Enang (PDP-Akwa Ibom), sought
regulation for the Nigerian Association of Animal Health and Husbandry
Technologists to allow them practice their profession unencumbered.
According to Avong, creating a different regulatory body to regulate
the practice of Animal Health Husbandry Technologists Registration
Board of Nigeria was going to be counterproductive.
He said that it was against the rules of the OIE and that breaking
the rules of the OIE would also affect the socio-economic position of
livestock owners who intend to trade in a wider market.
“Our resentment is not because we don’t like the veterinary para professionals to have their own regulatory body.
“Our resentment is because; doing so will jeopardise the chances of
this country being recognised as a member nation among the WTO trading
“And of course, what is the essence of our own practice, if livestock
owners here will not participate in international trade in animal and
“That is the only way we can improve the socio-economic position of livestock owners. ”
He underscored the need for the potential in the sub-sector to
be utilised in view of the fact that other countries had taken advantage
of the trade.
“Virtually, each zone with its peculiar climatic features, has an
advantage of being a major producer of one livestock type or the other.
“We have this potential on ground; it’s a matter of us working
towards ensuring that we benefit from the livestock industry,” Akong