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Nigeria’s non-participation in international animal trade criticised

13 April 2013, 07:39

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 these conditions.

“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 body.

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 professionals.

“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 October 2012.

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 partners.

“And of course, what is the essence of our own practice, if livestock owners here will not participate in international trade in animal and animal products.

“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 said.

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