Animal Sentience

Promoting Animal Welfare and Prevention of Cruelty Through Creation of Desk Offices for Animal Welfare in the Ministry of Agriculture Across the Federation

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By Dr Ibikunle Faramade 

The promotion of animal welfare and the prevention of cruelty against animals have come to stay globally. While it is true that the countries in the global north, i.e. many countries in Europe, United States of America and Australia led the park of transformation in this respect since the 19th century, it is also true that animal welfare concerns and ideas are not foreign to Africa, especially, Nigeria.

Through many folk tales, idiomatic expressions, metaphors, parables and adages, the recognition of our love for animals and preservation of their interests while promoting conservation have been permanently entrenched. However, because of challenges associated with mobilization and allocation of scarce resources required to meet human needs, most of the time, leading to low investment by government in structures and infrastructure that could improve human well-being, promote human dignity, improve sustainable livelihood and societal progress, the concept of animal welfare was naturally relegated to the background, or deemed nonexistent! This is aptly captured by a Yoruba proverb which says, “Aiti ri’bi sun, aja n han run” literally translated, ‘humans are not sure of where to sleep, a dog is snoring’. This is a statement of contempt, condemnation and dislike of comfort for animals while humans are suffering!

No wonder, countries that give optimum care to animals are reputed to have highest living standard for their citizens. In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, the great Indian revolutionary, politician and philosopher, ‘the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated’.  He also said, ‘I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man,’ and ‘I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. In addition, the central figure in modern philosophy, Immanuel Kent, also opined that ‘he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals’

In other to rev up Nigeria’s preparedness to improve the lot of animal welfare and prevention of cruelty, there should be a paradigm shift in the way we promote or enforce compliance. As of now, the level of awareness of the general public appears to be very low. While it is true that ignorance of the law is never a tenable excuse for breaking the law, it would be better to arm the people with correct information so that there would be justification for punitive measures handed down to offenders.

One of the means of achieving this is by the creation of desk offices appropriately manned by schedule officers in the Department of Veterinary Services working in close collaboration with the Department of Animal Husbandry Services under the Ministry of Agriculture in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. Many successful programs in the Ministry of Agriculture at both states and national levels were manned by dedicated desk offices that were funded to achieve a particular goal. The role of the desk office for avian influenza is a veritable example. Through the desk office, the populace could relate freely with government, thereby making animal welfare policy implementation seamless. Routine enforcement exercises are also possible with ease. It ensures high productivity and mutual benefits for the animal owners and desk officers in terms of achievement of set goals. Through the animal welfare desk office, inter-agency cooperation and collaboration is strengthened. For example, the desk office could easily partner with the Force Animal Branch of the Nigeria Police to address issues of common interest. The response time to animal welfare issues requiring emergency intervention is equally shortened.

Furthermore, data collection, data analysis and interpretation to influence policy decisions on animal welfare becomes possible without complications. These and many more are the benefits of creating dedicated desk offices for animal welfare across the federation.

We hereby advocate for the creation of desk offices for animal welfare and prevention of animal cruelty across the country as a matter of urgent necessity.

 

Dr. Ibikunle Faramade is a veterinary pathologist, sustainable development practitioner, animal welfare advocate and a lecturer at the Federal College of Animal Health & Production Technology, Apata. Ibadan. He’s the C.E.O of the Society for Animal Rights Protection, a non-profit and a non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of animal welfare, animal rights and prevention of cruelty to animals. animalrightsprotection2020@gmail.com , +2348028305284

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