Dr LEO NYAM, the Director General of Kaduna State Livestock Regulatory Authority, has been working in the sector in the last 43 years, traversing the state and federal governments as well as the private sector. In the interview below, Dr NYAM outlined how he will beef up livestock production and add value to the entire sector.
Kaduna State Livestock Regulatory Authority came to being about two years ago, what is the mandate of this Authority and what have you been doing to achieve it?
This authority came into being about two years ago and it went through a scientific process of having to understudy livestock and livestock products and facilities in Kaduna State. What has gone wrong with them and what we need to achieve, to place the state in an advantageous position in doing business, given the large livestock resources in Kaduna State. Secondly, our location gives us a central position for distribution and production of these livestock products. People are becoming very conscious of what they eat globally and they want to know where it is coming from and they want to be sure it is certified for good health. Also, there is more focus on environmental issues and ensuring that the product is adding value along a value-chain that is being developed.
It is this wisdom that informed Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai to commission a consultant to study this and deliver a report. This report led to the establishment of a law to regulate the livestock sub-sector of Kaduna State. This was done in the year 2018 and by 2019, he felt that there is need for a Board with a Director General to run the Kaduna State Livestock Regulatory Authority. We are the first in the country to have a law of this nature and to have a Board saddled with that responsibility.
Our responsibility cuts across living animals, that is livestock, their products, the waste management and the display of these livestock along the downstream or upstream. If you have a poultry and there is a feed company that is giving you feed, we need to know the source of that feed, because ultimately the poultry will eat a source of feed that may retain residuals that will be transmitted to humans through poultry, egg and meat consumption. The same thing goes with milk, beef, pork and other livestock products. These are our mandate and the next step in our regulatory process is to provide conducive environment to even produce the livestock. Are these farms well located? Are they environmentally well suited? Is the waste management controlled? Where are these animals slaughtered?
Does your mandate include regular immunization of cattle and other livestock?
No, our mandate doesn’t involve animal health services. There is a Director of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture. However, once we observe issues or signs in the product that can be as a result of a disease, we promptly alert them of the impending danger and they decisively respond to the situation. Our mandate focuses more on livestock, meat processing and its final output.
About six months ago, officials from your agency had an interaction with butchers and people working at the abattoirs. Going by your narration, does your enabling law mandate you to regulate abattoirs which ought to be within the purview of the local governments?
Our enabling law gives us authority over abattoirs. Abattoirs are graded; there is the slaughter slab, which can be any platform to manage livestock slaughter for a village population and the local governments are in charge of the activities. But these small slaughter slabs produce the meat and eggs that are consumed in municipal locations like Kaduna city. So, we will not let them continue their activities the way that they are used to doing. For this reason, we have to go back to the grassroots, in collaboration with local governments, health and veterinary authorities, to ensure that the process is hygienic for general public consumption.
We want to ensure that there is some consonance in the state, so that if poultry products or beef are sent from Kaduna State to Lagos, or to other parts of the state or even outside the country, people will attest to the quality of these products. This will be a vindication that there is a team on ground that is working to ensure the quality of these products. So, if our stamp is seen on a product, the whole world can attest to it and we will be justified.
Currently, the sorry state of things is that the manager, butchers and operators of the abattoirs have a feeling that they are traditionalists and they inherited their skills from their parents and grandparents and therefore they can just do what was done 50 to 60 years ago. Then, our population was just 50 million in Nigeria but today we are 200 million and jumping forward. So, we cannot allow things to go on the old fashioned way.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai, in his wisdom, realised that butchers are central to the operations and running of abattoirs, slaughter houses and slaughter slabs. So, the governor took these people out of country for them to see things for themselves. He took them to see what is being done in Turkey and Saudi Arabia to understudy how the Halal method of slaughter is done in a modern and hygienic way, in order to create quality and standard in the way animals are slaughtered and meat is handled. The butchers are now better enlightened about the processes.
Has there been any change in the butchers and managers of the abattoirs attitude since your outreach programme six months ago?
Our most important achievement is that investors have woken up, as they have discovered that they can do good business in meat processing in Kaduna State. Some private investors have also shown interest and are in productive discussions with Kaduna State Government over handing over some municipal abattoirs to them, to run strictly as a business venture.
In the same vein, along with regulating and ensuring standards, there is hidden revenue in these activities; we are seeking to ascertain whether it is being well collated, mismanaged or ignored. Because there are teeming youths that need employment in the state and we have to avail them with opportunity to make a living. The Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service is working in collaboration with us; we wrote a proposal to the governor and it has been approved. We have been given the go-ahead to register these premises, abattoirs, farms and markets so that we can have a database that will ease the enlightenment process and to be in conformity with our projection and plans. Our Director of Operations has sent letters via email to a lot of these organizations. Some of them are registered as corporate groups, individuals or private investors. We are currently collating these data and we will analyse them to create a road map of how our plans will be attainable.
Next year, the template for charges of using the abattoirs will be ready. These fees will help cater for utility bills and equipment maintenance in abattoirs in the state. We are in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service. We have suggested charges and we have comparative analysis of the charges in other states. Our intention is for the charges in Kaduna State to be lower and attract more users which will help generate more funds. We have all these plans on paper already but before implementation, we intend to educate and enlighten the people in meat processing business. We are calling on the media to help in this enlightening process, so that the general public will understand the regulations that guide treatment and transportation of livestock. People should know that there are severe consequences for inhuman treatment of animals. There are countries of the world that need our products but they won’t want it if it isn’t regulated and certified to be safe for consumption.
This is a new establishment and you are heading the team, what are the capacity, capabilities and experience of Dr Leo Yusuf Nyam that qualify him for this huge assignment?
I will humbly say that I don’t possess all the capabilities to handle it, but over the years, after I qualified as a veterinary surgeon in the year 1977, I worked partly in Kaduna State then moved to work with a private firm in Kano. Afterwards, I proceeded to work with Federal Government at the National Livestock Project Division. It was the first World Bank livestock loan that was successfully implemented; all the first, second and third livestock projects in West Africa were implemented with a pass mark. I also worked with International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), where I was a consultant to Liberia on the post war reintroduction of ruminants to war-torn areas, ensuring health standards and evaluation. I also worked with the present president of the African Development Bank as his Regional Director for Northern Nigeria when he was Minster of Agriculture, for two years. And on retirement, I worked with Queens Foot livestock Products, to set standards on their products that will ensure sales in the market. I was there before I got summoned by Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai to come and work with the State Government.