Samuel Bello, Abuja
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said past efforts to industrialise leather policies failed because government ‘didn’t do first things first.’
Onu said this in Abuja, yesterday, when he inaugurated a National Steering Committee to implement the policy, where he also advised Nigerians to take advantage of the low cost of labour and invest in the leather industry.
He said henceforth, all efforts would be deployed to ensure effective implementation of the policy, adding that the widely acclaimed Moroccan Leather products were actually sourced from Nigeria.
“The leather industry is very critical to national growth and development because it will boost our Gross Development Product and increase our foreign exchange earnings.”
The minister anticipated that the policy would solve most of the problems hindering the growth of the leather sector and help Nigeria produce shoes, belts and other leather products similar to what obtains in other developed countries of the world.
The committee is expected to set up a working plan and budget for effective implementation of the policy within two months.
The panel is also expected to coordinate and monitor the optimal implementation of the policy in conjunction with the relevant stakeholders and also conduct validation and sensitization workshops for stakeholders in six geographical zones in order to review the draft implementation framework.
The committee aims to review the policy in the future after adequate consultation to reflect emerging needs and bridge existing gaps in the policy and also provide related feedback and submit report to the ministry from time to time.
Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Bitrus Nabasu, on his part, charged the committee to ensure the actualization of this strategic implementation plan to enable Nigeria realize the gains in the leather sector.
Chairman of the committee and the Director-General of Nigerian Institute of Leather, Science and Technology (NILEST), Eucharia Oparah, said the leather industry has a lot of potentials but has not been given the necessary boost.