NIAS Inducts 420 Animal Scientists At Joint Confab In UniPort ...As Senator Kaka Bemoans Gov’t Policy On Agriculture

A total of 420 Animal Scientists from across the country, including five from the University of Port Harcourt, were admitted into membership of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) at the 8th Induction Ceremony of the Institute which held alongside the 5th Joint Annual Meeting of the Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN) at the Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium, University Park between Sunday, 18th and Thursday, 22nd September, 2016.
Given a breakdown of the figure, President of NIAS, Professor Israel Adu, disclosed that 364 of the new Animal Scientists were inducted as Graduate Animal Scientists, 24 as Associate Animal Scientists, 119 as Registered Animal Scientists, while 13 Registered Animal Scientists were inducted as Fellows of the College of Animal Scientists of Nigeria.
Erstwhile Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Research and Development, Professor Bene Willie Abbey, was among the 13 RAS admitted into the Fellowship of NIAS. The new Fellows were adorned with academic robes at the colourful event and charged to mentor younger entrants into the profession and propagate the interest of the Institute.
Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra, represented by a Deputy Registrar in the High Court, Sir Chukwuma Mark, administered the Oath of Allegiance on the new Inductees, while the President, Professor Adu, thereafter admitted the Inductees into the Institute, admonishing them to abide by the ethics of the profession.
“You are now certified as agents trained in the knowledge of providing adequate food and production of animals, taking into consideration food security that will cater for the needs of the nation. Believe in yourself; don’t allow anyone to undermine you; live by our ethics as professionals, know your responsibilities by reading the NIAS Act and explore the powers and responsibilities therein. The nation is facing tough challenges at this point in time; seize the moment and explore opportunities in the profession so that we can collectively contribute to nation-building,” the NIAS President advised the new Inductees.

In his speech, Governor Nyesom Wike, who was represented by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Barrister Onimim Jacks, expressed optimism that bringing the conference to Port Harcourt would attract significant improvements in the agricultural sector of the State and the rest of the country.
“It is a well-established fact that the major source of protein for most Nigerian households is from the animal source. This implies that the animal industry contributes immensely to the average households’ nutritional needs, as well as holds the potential to transform the Nigerian economy. Therefore, improving and harnessing the potentials of the Nigerian animal industry should be the watchword of every stakeholder in the business of animal agriculture. It is on this premise that I consider the theme of this year’s conference: “Repositioning Animal Agriculture in a dwindling Oil Economy” as one of the sure approaches to transforming the downtrodden States and national economy,” the Governor said in his address.
Similarly, a Director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. John Taiwo, who stood in for the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to growing the agricultural sector. 
“Necessary steps are being taken by the Federal Government as regards ending hunger in Nigeria. Several meetings are being held to ensure that the 2016 budget is fully implemented, especially as it concerns the sector. This budget will include soft loans to prospective farmers who may wish to further the course of agriculture. Nigerians look forward to a brighter future with agriculture and we are sure to get there,” the Minister said.
In his keynote address entitled: Repositioning of Animal Agriculture in a Dwindling Oil Economy, a Senator of the 7th National Assembly, Adegbenga Kaka, lambasted Government at all levels for neglecting animal agriculture in preference for crops.
“Lip service has been paid by all tiers of Government to Agriculture over the last five decades as the last key of the bunch to open the door for economic prosperity and meaningful livelihood. It is very convenient to use agriculture as the weeping baby with despicable resource allocation of between 2-3%, consistently for many years, as our annual national budget to this critical sector. Even after the 2003 Maputo declaration that recommended a minimum of 10% for 5 years till 2008, the situation remained with paltry sums, barely enough to address the agricultural needs of farming communities in five Local Governments of the 774 LGAs in the country,” Senator Kaka said, condemning what he described as policy somersaults resulting from selfish, parochial, sectional and political considerations by the ruling elite. 
“Our animal agriculture has been brutally challenged by all manner of centrifugal and centripetal forces from both within and without the industry. The dwindling oil economy has only helped to bring to the fore these challenges,” he lamented, pointing out that “With purposefully planned agricultural development, especially animal agriculture, the Medical Doctors will have reduced challenges from malnutrition, balanced diet will ensure resistance to most diseases, our gross domestic product will have continuous leap and positive growth, unemployment will be reduced to the barest minimum.”  
The keynote speaker tasked all stakeholders to rise to the challenges of saving the nation’s economy by embarking on an aggressive revitalisation of four key sectors, namely: agriculture, energy generation and supplies, education and resolution of the Niger Delta crisis.
In his goodwill message, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, who spoke through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Professor Anthony Ibe, recalled some of the steps taken by the University to advance the teaching of agriculture through the provision of a stable environment for quality research, charging participants to propagate the practical aspects of the sector, in addition to exposing the trainees to mechanised agricultural techniques.
“I am pleased to announce that the Senate of this University approved the establishment of the Department of Animal Science in 2014, which demerged from the then Department of Animal Science and Fisheries. The separation has placed Animal Science as an important specialisation in this University, and I am pleased to know that the young Department is competing with older professional programmes in the University. The young Department of Animal Science is fast developing in the University to compete with other professional programmes established several years ago. Let me seize the opportunity to appeal to the Institute to assist the University as it strives to develop a more robust Department of Animal Science, particularly when you are invited to assess our facilities for accreditation purposes. As a foremost research-intensive Entrepreneurial University, the University of Port Harcourt is highly committed to promoting agribusiness through Animal Agriculture,” the Vice-Chancellor said in his address. 
The goodwill speech from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), was delivered by Dr. Ibrahim Rufai, while President of ASAN, Mr. Taiwo Adeoye, also presented an address on behalf of the umbrella body which also held its 21st Annual General Meeting as part of the conference.


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