We interview Dr. Lumumba Garba, a veterinarian from the Northern part of Nigeria who works with NAFDAC (you would get to know more about NAFDAC as you read on, I promise). He shares with us a side to veterinary medicine many do not know about.
Why did you become a Vet?
I guess I’ll say it’s providence. I actually applied for a different course but was offered Vet. Med.
Vet School attended?
How did you get to work with NAFDAC?
I was informed in the year 2011 that a Vet Directorate will be created in NAFDAC, that interested Vets should apply. I applied, went through the recruitment process and was offered employment.
What was the application and recruitment process like?
Vacancies were advertised online. Interested candidates applied and uploaded credentials. We were shortlisted for exams after which there was another shortlist for interview. Successfully candidates were then offered employment.
How often is recruitment for vets by NAFDAC carried out?
Ehmmn… can’t really say. There are some vets that have been in the system for 15yrs or more. Then our set is 2012 and I think a few more after us.
Please enlighten us, what is NAFDAC? What do they do?
NAFDAC stands for National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. We regulate the manufacture, importation, distribution, advertisements, sales and use of Food, drugs, cosmetics, chemicals, medical devices and water ensuring they are safe and efficacious.
What is your job description?
My Job description involves vetting of documents and raising import permits or compliance directives, vetting of product samples, raising lab manifest and forwarding products to lab for analysis, scheduling products for approval meetings, attending approval meetings, raising product notifications issuing clearance permits e.t.c
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
What’s enjoyable is the fact that I’m contributing to ridding the society of counterfeit and substandard drugs, food, chemicals, medical devices, water e.t.c.
Describe a typical day at work
Resumption is by 8:00 am, I sign the register, go to my desk and start reviewing the left over tasks of the day before as well as assessing the tasks for the day. I try to clear as many applications as I can before 10:00am when applicants will start pouring in. I attend to applicants issues as directed by my superiors. Attending to applicants ends by 2:00pm. Typical Lunch time is usually 1:00 or 2:00pm after which I focus on working on more applications. Official closing time is 4:00pm though I typically close 4:30 or 5:00pm just to tidy up although I sometimes close really late especially on approval meeting days.
Most challenging part of the job?
I think it’s having to work under pressure due to sheer volume of applications that come in all year round
Any tips for managing stress?
Get that sense of balance between work and rest, eat well, take lots of fruits, attend to your hobbies and really get that much needed rest always
Who has inspired you most in your career and why?
My mentor and the first unit head I worked with in NAFDAC – Dr. Idayat Mudashir. I admire her intelligence and work ethic. She really knows her job and has been my mentor from Day 1 in the agency.
What would you say in your own words are the socio-economic relevance of what you do to the society?
Counterfeit, substandard and fake drugs, food and other regulated products can be injurious to public health. Ridding the society of them safeguards the nation’s health. This reduces the burden on healthcare system as well as cost of healthcare. It also enhances food security improves livelihoods in general
What qualities would you say a vet in your position needs the most to succeed?
Ability to multi task and work under pressure, versatility and be teachable
Some misconceptions about veterinarians?
Hmm… That parochial view that limits the veterinarian’s knowledge and capabilities.
People often forget veterinary medicine is a faculty that entails a wide variety of courses that include Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Toxicology, Immunology, Parasitology e.t.c.
All most people know is the vet knows how to treat animals, full stop.
One vet you think is changing the way people see veterinarians?
Prof J O Ayo, a physiology lecturer of mine and past president of Nigerian Society of Neurophysiology. He has really distinguished himself in research and is highly respected.
Many veterinarians struggle to make a good living from their salaries, are you satisfied with yours?
I was satisfied initially but the current economic situation in the country doesn’t give value for money.
What 3 words wouldn’t you ever use to describe yourself?
Insensitive, Proud, carefree
What would you have liked to do if you hadn’t become a veterinarian?
I would have pursued a military personnel career or become a medical doctor
What book are you reading now?
7 Habits of Highly Effective people by Stephen Covey
What would you advise future veterinarians?
Work hard, pray hard, trust God
If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why?
Horses for their sheer strength and agility
I hope you learnt more about NAFDAC, like I promised? I for one learnt that NAFDAC is not just a regulatory body for food and drugs, but other chemicals, even cosmetics!
I absolutely agree with Dr. Garba on a lot of people having a parochial view of vet medicine. One of the aims of this blog is to change that narrative and enlighten people. Have you had any misconceptions about vet medicine? Let’s discuss in the comment section below.
Thank you once again for granting this interview you, Dr. Garba. We wish you further success in your career.
Dr. Garba is active on Facebook- Lumumba Garba and Twitter- @GarbaLumumba
ARE A VETERINARY PROFESSIONAL AND WOULD LIKE TO CREATE AWARENESS AND ENLIGHTENMENT ABOUT THE UNCOMMON VETERINARY SECTOR YOU WORK IN? KINDLY SEND US A MAIL AT DRGBAKSTHEVET@GMAIL.COM . THANK YOU.