By Dr. Gani Enahoro
The sudden collapse of a 21-storey building under construction on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi on Monday November 1, 2021 has attracted the usual sad commentaries and the expected condemnation from high and low quarters as we know it in the past.
Although many have called it one collapse too many with over 20 bodies already pulled out of the rubbles within 24 hours and 9 injured survivors taken to ICUs of neighbouring hospitals, it remains to be seen if the heavy hands of the law would eventually descend on the culprits, who most times are charlatans.
A few years back inside the premises of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations owned by late Pastor T.B Joshua a worst scenario took place in terms of the number of deaths and it was all a ding-dong affair in the court until the demise of the pastor recently. As in the past the dust would soon settle and the consequences of criminality would not be visited on the guilty quacks, their collaborators and government agents who connived in corruption to kill unsuspecting people just like that. We live in a land filled with corruption.
A country without an approved national building code that one wonders what agencies like the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) were supposed to benchmark as standards to regulate their activities.Now, the General Manager, LASBCA was hurriedly suspended by the governor, as if that would calm frayed nerves, no sooner would he return back to his seat once the rubble dust settles and everyone will look the other way. That is our lot in the country where erring and thieving people don’t get punished for what they do.
My heart goes to the commoners, including the family of Zainab, the IT university student who had just entered into the building from the food vendor where she went for lunch within seconds of the collapse, her devastated mother had practically turned the rubble site to home in the hope to see her daughter miraculously arise,same goes to the woman food hawker herself who had routinely pitched her mobile large umbrella and wheel barrow and whose daughter had a few seconds earlier arrived from the primary school. They probably have perished due to no fault of theirs. May the souls of all the departed rest in peace.
The capacity of man’s open inhumanity to another man pales to insignificance when laid side by side with the evils they indirectly do to their fellow man through the abuse of their animals who don’t talk. The other day a video went viral of some bush herdsmen taking their turns bestially pushing their male organs into the vulva of cows, having sexual intercourse.
Their types get locked up in correctional centers for decades. Their depraved manner could have been a signature of the bandits that we know of today or the cattle-rustlers who cared less about their stolen herds and could therefore treat them anyhow.
Quackery in the veterinary profession is rampant in the forests, peri-urban towns and even in the cities and the consequences goes far beyond their making money from the illicit trade, instead they disrupt the entire value chain in the public health system without their knowing. Vet charlatans cause all sorts of medical conditions in man that are difficult to troubleshoot at the hospitals. The veterinary quacks do not understand what the withdrawal periods in drugs usage translate to when a treatment regimen is instituted for food animals. We know that every veterinary drug is useful to the extent that its side effects are minimal, and that is if it is given at a dosage prescribed by the trained veterinarian and more so for a period known to pharmacology. For food animals, trained veterinarians are very sensitive to food safety as well as the security of the food chain. Slaughtering is permitted only when the withdrawal periods of drugs have been achieved. The quacks do not know this, and in some worse case scenarios, they infiltrate the live bird markets and sell antibiotic powders or vitamins of all sorts, and they ask the poultry marketers to keep adding to drinking water of the birds up to the exact day of slaughtering by the helpless buyers.
The terrible consequence is that these drugs leave residues above acceptable limits in the flesh of these birds, and when eaten by man unsuspectingly despite cooking, they transform to a more lethal chemical, which accumulate in man’s body, causing harm medically in future. There have been different types of cancers in man from unknown origins, although now traced to these sources, as certain residues are already known to become carcinogens in man.
In the most common cases of antibiotics residue in meat, the fear of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a big source of worry to medicine lately, attracting multidisciplinary attentions of human and veterinary doctors, collaborating in a One-Health approach to save humanity.
AMR is the development of a survival mechanism by the microbes including viruses, bacterial, fungi and protozoa against products that were meant to inhibit their growths or survival. Without effective anti-microbials, epidemics and possibly pandemics would become more frequent, debilitating and killing more people. There are more antibiotics, up to seventy percent that are manufactured for animals than for humans, with the fear that quacks have access freely to them, abusing and misusing carelessly. This is mainly in the developing economies where anything goes, and even those we consider educated and knowledgeable often times enjoy the cheapness of seeking out the charlatans deliberately. That same mentality is what goes on across the profession, killing people mindlessly.
Metabolic disease conditions from dietary causes that are common to others in the advanced worlds are downplayed here, and that is partly due to poor diagnostic tools available in our health facilities who are preoccupied with primary health care against malaria and typhoid.
It could also be that we eat our meals in reverse order and those kids who truly need the animal protein most, usually gets served the least portions of meat. Even when a family head gets served one or two thighs of a chicken with plenty rice, he feels like the champ, thinking he had a good quantity of meat protein, whereas in other climes, such adults consume half the size of an average chicken with just a handful of carbs and plenty veggies as single meal. So the concentration and effect of chemical residue will most likely be seen in the latter group.
Charlatans have been on rampage in every notable profession and are not limited to the building industry or veterinary practice alone. They have been caught in the courtrooms acting as lawyers before judges without fears and some have gone into the surgical theatres as doctors brazenly holding scalpels to operate on human beings. It therefore leaves much to imagine the level of trouble charlatans could have caused for animals, particularly in dogs and cats that are very close to man. Dogs are frequently rushed under emergency to veterinary clinics for ingesting poisons from toxic alcoholic concoctions that were forced down their throats as a prescription from charlatans who claim such would make them aggressive as guard dogs. I have rescued a few dogs that fainted and became convulsive after they were forced to swallow illicit gins of different concentrations, in some cases indian hemp are soaked in ogogoro, which they call “monkey tail”, and dogs are forced to drink later resulting in vomiting and passing out of bloody faeces, before they collapse and die.
The most forbidden assorted steroids are bandied about by quacks, in hush-hush tones to deceive dog owners into fattening the muscles of their dogs without knowing that there are repercussions. Many dogs and cats have suffered different degrees of skin burns from improper use of insecticides meant for mosquitoes resulting in liver damages, collapse and death.
In the cattle industry, with the nomadic herders wandering about in Nigerian bushes without any control whatsoever, abuses and misuses of veterinary drugs and chemicals go on unabated with quacks living in a kingdom of their own. If the beef we consume today gets tested for chemical residues, the result would frighten anyone and could win converts for vegetarians.
This is why the beef shortfall in Europe that could have served as a foreign exchange earner for us is now taken up profitably by the likes of Morocco and Botswana who engage in safe production practices by ranching their animals and relying on veterinary professionals for disease management. There is even a Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), which is as valued to their economy as we see our NNPC here, and it contributes the bulk of their GDP, and this is despite their cattle herd population, much below what we parade in Nigeria.
To some extent, the security situation in Nigeria plays a role in throwing up these medical and veterinary quacks. Today, a veterinarian in practice must be unusually courageous to accept any invitation to visit those cattle settlements that served as our routine in those days. I recall with fondness, my extension of veterinary services to our cattle herder clients who would visit us on Tuesdays and sleep in the accommodation facility that my Gan-Rovet Veterinary clinic at that time had to offer them on a weekly basis for a Wednesday trip hundreds of kilometers away to render veterinary services. Bandits have long put a stop to such extension of professional services as we were told that they now use animals as shields against been identified, and a few Vets were kidnapped recently.
In whichever way it is seen, charlatans are wicked people and what is common to all of them across the board is the short-circuiting of standard operating procedures due to their ignorance and they always have accomplices within government circles, who share their blood money with them for official protection. We must rise above their antics and stop patronizing them. It is like the campaign against bribery that once we all stop giving, then there won’t be receivers. Let us starve the charlatans by doing the right things before they choke us all. Antibiotics should never be used as feed additives, with the belief that it is a growth promoter. Many countries have long banned such practice but we believe with time Nigeria would join. Antibiotics for man and animals should only be used to treat diseases and not for prophylaxis. When antibiotics are used carelessly, the residues in meat, eggs and milk gets to man and create AMR eventually, and super bugs would be promoted.