By Lawrence Olaoye
The Federal Executive Council (FEC)has passed a policy seeking to ban the exportation of raw, unprocessed leather from the country.
Briefing newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said adding value to leather before export would create jobs and generate more foreign exchange.
He said about the policy: “This is the only way we can create more jobs and a lot of wealths. We would be in a position to fight poverty.
In any country, they always start with textiles and then leather. Here we have comparative advantage because our labour cost is low.”
On the comparative advantage of the policy to the country, Onu said “As far as light leather is concerned , we are number two in Africa and number 8 in terms of exporting leather in the world. If we harness the leather we have in Nigeria and that we processed our hides and skins, we will be creating a lot of jobs and wealth because of the small scale enterprises that will spring up. You will now be having new businesses springing up. President Buhari is very much interest in sense ring that those who want to work can work.”
In terms of contributions to the economy, he said “Leather contributes almost $921m to our economy, as at 2013. There was a time leather was number three in terms of contributions from the non- oil sector. We believe that leather will help us achieve much to the economy.”
On health hazards associated with processing, the Minister replied “This is exactly why you have the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and we have the Leather Research Institute in Zaria. This institute is conducting research in the various segments. This is the only organization permitted to offer higher training in leather industry. You use certain chemicals you have to find away to treat before you can discharge them into any water source. A percentage will be in what is environmentally acceptable. They are working on that at the moment. We are very much aware of that because we have tanneries at the moment. We want to make that our people are safe.”
On measures taken by the government to ensure maximum security in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) following the influx of the Shittes sect into the city, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said “This came up for discussion, the Hon. Minister of FCT was asked to take up the matter with his own security committee.”