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Need for Diversification of The Economy(2)

The Nigerian troubled leather sector angle. The first part of this piece was published last week.

Siaka MOMOH[H1] 

Policy somersault

For one of our informed sources in the relevant ministries, who wants to be anonymous, the problem is that, a value chain set up during the last regime’s Transformation Agenda (ATA), seems to have gone moribund.

He questioned the quantity and quality of leather we claim to have.  Said he: “First and foremost, and realistically, where are the animals  which the leather is expected to come from? From the fictitious data or from the true one? With the prevalent practice of roasting animals with skins and converting those skinned into ‘ponmo’, what type of leather are we talking about?

“Moreover, without reliable traceability of animals slaughtered, how are we sure of what we are talking about empirically? And, without any appreciable efforts at keeping animals in ranches, poor abattoir practices and weak ministries of agriculture in states, how are we sure there are leathers produced here and not that they are from neighbouring countries? I am convinced that whatever is being presented to NEC is just a wish, an intention but not something based on empiricism.”

The integrity of the new policy that is in the pipeline is thus being questioned here.

For him, “The story should rather be to ask how, in the light of these observations, their intentions are going to be translated into reality.”

EEG fraud

Another source lamented: “Lots of missed opportunities, programmes as conduits for fund allocation, Export Expansion Grant (EEG) fraud wherein foreigners got paid for exploiting Nigeria, taking leather away from here, some to their home countries, with the active connivance of (and in collusion with) Nigerians, all running into billions of naira, the refusal of cattle rearers to subject their animals to interventions that would ordinarily make statistics easy to gather, and so on.”

Hear this from another government informed source: “No fewer than 6,000 cows are slaughtered daily in Lagos. Is there any record of leather or leather value chain arising from this; can Lagos State Government provide any statistics to that effect?” he asked rhetorically.

Herdsmen linkage

 He added: “Majority of the 6,000 cows slaughtered in Lagos is from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger and possibly from as further afield as Mauritania. A meeting recently in Cote d`Ivoire proved how dependent these countries are on Nigeria’s import of cows. In fact, the herdsmen crisis presently witnessed in Nigeria has been unwittingly agreed to by this present government as partly orchestrated by the herdsmen from these countries; which raises serious policy and political questions of “why this upsurge now?”  If this agrees with the fact that so much of what is consumed in Nigeria is coming from these countries, what is being done to monitor the herdsmen and their cattle and to regulate their movements and make them subject to our rules?

“Is Nigeria their grazing outpost? Or an extension of their countries (ECOWAS rules or not)? Are they free to cross borders unchecked? If you see herdsmen carrying AK 47 instead of mere stick, shouldn’t that raise its own concerns?”

Is leather value chain development not worth looking at? And how long must we continue to depend on our neighbours  for cows?


 [H1]

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