Experts in the veterinary profession have warned of dire consequences for the country's livestock sector with the total number of registered veterinarians currently standing at about 8,600, with 1,200 (13.95%) in private practice.
A communiqué issued at the end of the 2019 professional continuing education of the Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) in Bauchi and Oshogbo, expressed worry that for long, the scope of veterinary practice was restricted to veterinary clinical services, animal production, sale of veterinary pharmaceuticals and animal health business.
The communiqué also noted an underreporting of private practitioners' registration, adding that VCN records of 2017 showed that Benue, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Ondo, Katsina and Sokoto did not record any.
The council said a "law protecting private practice is also lacking. The Animal Disease Control Act, Cap A17 of 1988 only covers veterinary vaccines and not veterinary drugs. Vets in drugs the are daily, being harassed by the pharmacists, while animal scientists encroach into veterinary clinical practice at will."
Prof. Bello Muhammed Agaie, in his paper at the confab pointed out that the country's "Livestock production currently at its lowest ebb in comparison to what it should be.
"It is also facing challenges from climate change, environmental degradation, increasing desertification, drought, spoliation of natural and land resources, drying up of many water sources, population growth, changes in land use, poor husbandry practices, low productivity of indigenous breeds, conflicts between farmers and herders, low uptake of improved technologies and armed conflicts," he said.
The expert noted that government's effort to address the challenges through various programmes did not record much success. "The failure is being attributed to several economic, technical and managerial mistakes, lack of finance, lack of skilled manpower, limited access to grazing lands, failure to understand the relationship between the development of grazing reserves and ranching.