By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday passed through second reading a bill seeking to prohibit the killing and exportation of Donkeys or its carcasses out of Nigeria.
The sponsored of the bill Hon. Garba Muhammed (APC-Kaduna), at plenary seeks to address the threat of donkeys going into extinction, other aesthetic, ecological, historical, recreational and scientific values to the nation.
Muhammed, while leading the debate on the bill, said that it was necessary for donkeys to be preserved for use particularly in transportation among others.
According to him, the donkey is a very useful means of transportation particularly in the rural communities of Nigeria.
“This is fundamental, given the poor transportation system in Nigeria, which is not their fault and the peculiarly severe poverty in which these rural communities live.
“Recently, the donkey population has severely reduced. The reason ascribed to this development, like in many countries of West African sub-region, is large scale exports to China.
“In China, where the donkey population has also nosedived, the demand for donkeys is extremely high because gelatin made from donkey skin is highly prized as a nutritional tonic which nourishes the blood and boosts the immune system.
“Donkey meat is also a delicacy in some Chinese regions, especially in the North of the country. The Chinese have, therefore, invaded West Africa, amongst other places, for its donkey population.
“This bill is therefore, not a novelty in the world as it has become the trend. Botswana, Senegal ,Mali ,Burkina Faso and Gambia.
“These are countries which have recently prohibited the exportation of donkeys in order to keep their donkey population at sustainable levels while Zimbabwe and Ethiopia have also imposed some restrictions on export,” he said.
Muhammed explained that in Kano, for instance, where many rural city utilized the donkey for transportation, the donkey sold for between N15,000 and N18,000 but today going for between N70,000 and N75,000.
According to him, these poor rural farmers cannot afford donkeys anymore. Meanwhile, Dong-E E-Jiao, which is China’s donkey market leader, posted pre-tax profits of 295 million dollars in 2016.
“Our silence means that our helpless people would be milked dry for the commercial interest of foreign states.Besides, Nigeria talks of tourism at every turn while the specie is needed in our science laboratory for the purpose of conducting research.
“Is it possible that we shall now begin to import donkeys for these purposes?. To stem the tide, the bill proposes under clauses 1 and 2 among others to prohibit the exportation of live donkeys as well as intentional killing and exportation of donkey parts in Nigeria as well as for consumption.
The bill, therefore, recommends a penalty of 10 years imprisonment for offences committed.
In his contribution, Rep. Mohammed Monguno (APC-Borno), who was in support of the bill, said that law against exportation of donkeys used to be in place because of the scarcity of donkeys.
This, he said was because there was no value for money as they buy in naira instead of dollars.
The bill was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and referred the bill to the Committee on Agricultural Institutions and Services.