Sola Ojo, Kaduna
President, Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Professor Garba Sharubutu, has called on the Federal Government to recruit and equip forest guards to end the menace of ‘unidentified’ herdsmen attacks across the country.
The university don believed that the neglect of critical forest protectors by successive administrations over the years was making protection of Nigerian forests weak, thereby giving room for criminals to hide and proliferate.
The professor, who stated this in Kaduna during a roundtable discussion with journalists as part of activities to mark this year’s World Veterinary Day organised by the Kaduna chapter of the Association, also hinged the thriving of the country on healthy veterinary practices.
According to him, “forest guards know everything about the forests, including the sound of birds in terms of security. If we have forest guards in Sambisa, there is no how Boko Haram would have been building tunnels for ten years without [them] knowing.
“You have the Police, NSCDC, FRSC and all that protecting lives and property in the towns, yes, but nobody is protecting the forests. That is why the kidnappers are having free days, animal rustlers and other criminals living in these forests unchallenged.
“If we want a solution to these farmers/herders clashes, all hands must be on deck. The issue of forest security should be given top priority. Our lawmakers must learn to go to their people when they are on recess and not to run because they have monies,” the professor advised.
He also decried the low number of veterinary doctors across the Nigerian States, saying there is gross neglect of such essential workers across the states.
“We are of a profession that is self-reliant. We don’t depend on government. We are not contractors. More than enough people benefit from us…,” he said in his speech.
“But the truth is, many states have deficiency in veterinary services. In Kaduna, for example, each of the local governments need a minimum of three veterinary doctors to avoid the slaughtering of sick or pregnant animals. This is critical to human survival. This is because if you don’t ensure people eat healthy animals, be ready to spend more on their health.
“It is important to have veterinary doctors at animal posts on transit because they will know the breed or if they are stolen animals.
“If we have enough veterinary doctors across the rural areas, it will help to identify those that are causing problems, because they will have the contacts of those who own animals at this level.
“Therefore, there is the need for a veterinary framework. If the tariffs on importation of needed materials can be removed, the sector will take over in term of sustainable development. Let us give them the capacity and see what they can do.
“The veterinary can handle all the needed meat for the country. Let us invest through public/private partnership backed up with laws.
“Even when we know we can stand on our own, we still need a regulatory framework because the law alone cannot do the work without putting people in place to implement the law.
“A state that has only three veterinary doctors cannot implement the law. So, we need to get most organisations like the military and paramilitary on board. We are happy with the police because they have all that is needed; but we also need veterinary doctors… The progress of this country lies so much on veterinary doctors,” he stated.