The regulation of the professions of Optometry and Dispensing Opticianry was brought to life with the signing of Decree No 34 of 1989 by the General Ibrahim Babangida military administration on 7th December, 1989. Prince Bola Ajibola was Attorney General/Minister of Justice and Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti was Minister of health at the time. Prior to the establishment of the Board, indeed prior to the signing of Decree No 34, the Optometry profession in Nigeria was largely unregulated. This is to say, it was an all-comers affair, practiced on individual whims, perceptions and idiosyncrasies. The move to legalize the Optometry profession began, with the obvious implication for the formation of the Board under the aegis of the Nigerian Optometric Association, which has been formed since 1968 as The Association of Optical Practitioners (in Nigeria). Understandably, practitioners with acceptable qualifications were concerned about the unchecked practices going on in the country, which had apparent adverse implications for the visual health of Nigerians. Expectedly, a lot of meetings, lobbying and the like were going on especially in the 1980s among a crux of Optometrists which ultimately culminated to the drafting and signing into law of Decree No 34 of 1989 on the 7th December 1989. The first provision of that Law is the establishment of the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians’ Registration Board of Nigeria.
On the 16th of October 1992, at the conference hall of the Federal Ministry of Health and Human Services, Ikoyi Lagos, the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria was inaugurated by the then Minister of Health, late Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti. In his speech on that occasion, he congratulated Optometrists on the hard and long walk to get the decree promulgated and to inaugurate the Board. He charged the new Board to set high standards for the other successors of the membership of the Board to follow. He noted that the role of the Optometrist’s Board in health care delivery couldn’t be over emphasized, particularly in maintaining high professional standards among the Optometrists. He further charged that reports by the public on any Optometrist with doubtful skills must be promptly and thoroughly investigated to ascertain validity. Every reported and proven case of negligence must be treated with the appropriate severity to serve as deterrent to others. He reminded the Board of its role in ensuring that Optometrists must show evidence of continuing education and its role in raising the standard of Optometric education.The maiden Board was set up three clear years after the promulgation of the decree; meaning that there was no organ of government in that period to operate the provisions of the law. That maiden Board was chaired by Dr. K.O. Sosan a physician and had other members which include:
The appointment of a non-optometrist to head that maiden Board (where eminently qualified optometrists abound) had some undesired consequence. It caused some form of disaffection among some optometrists and lack of faith in that body. It also in a way undermined the expectations of the then health minister in his charge for setting high standards. For no one would better represent the interest of optometrists than optometrists themselves.
That board was short lived. Barely lasting 2 years before the military adventurism of General Abacha dissolved all government boards leaving sole administrators. This aberration in the affairs of the board lasted for seven long years until the restoration of democratic government in the land, which reconstituted government boards including the Optometrists Board, which was inaugurated on the 18- December 2000 with Professor Paul Oghuehi an optometrist as chairman. Other members include;
The Optometrist and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria (ODORBN) is the body statutorily empowered by an Act of Parliament (cap 09 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, formerly known as Decree No. 34 of December, 1989) to regulate the practice of the professions of Optometry and dispensing Opticianry In Nigeria.