From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Status in society and age, they say, pose no barrier to education and, by extension, learning. It should not escape our minds that a former Nigerian head of state, after his ouster, went back to school abroad to study. Buoyed by this, perhaps, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, decided to put his doctorate degree certificate inside his portmanteau to go back to school, this time around, to be tutored in the art of shoemaking. Through to type, he has enrolled as a student at a Footwear Academy in Aba, Abia State, to actualise this purpose.
Ikpeazu’s move is dissected from two planks by pundits. First, by enrolling at the academy as a student to learn footwear making, it is believed the mindset of youths who hitherto saw shoemaking trade as a business for the dregs and never-do-wells in society would be greatly changed and re-focused. Again, the inferiority toga that locally made goods undeservedly wear would have been changed for good.
As a prelude, in trying to change the inferiority narrative, Ikpeazu, while enrolling at the academy, urged Nigerians to take pride in patronizing made-in-Nigeria products as a way of boosting the economy. It was his view that, except Nigerians endorse their own products and take pride in them, they will be merely supporting the economic growth of other nations.
For him, a country with the population strength of Nigeria should have no business looking elsewhere to market its products.
“The country should leverage on the strength of its population to readily market its products and this calls for Nigerians to take the lead in consuming their products to enable others follow.”
Continuing, the governor said, “Aba can compete with the Chinese and other world leaders in the shoe industry and I hope that, soon, no one will ignore the shoes produced from Aba”.
The governor said it was not for nothing that he decided to enroll as a student in the academy: “I am fascinated with the intellectual dimension the academy is bringing into shoemaking and I will advocate stronger collaboration between it and the Enyimba Automated Shoe Factory.”
The excited governor-cum-student of the academy said, with what he saw at the academy, he was going to give government impetus to the institution for its growth.
He promised that government would provide land to enable the academy embark on major expansion and ensure more students are given the opportunity to enrol and get trained.
Founder of the academy, Mr. Bentley Chukwuemeka, spoke about their commitment to producing quality footwear as well as churning out well-trained hands with a view to sustaining the place of Aba as a destination of choice in the shoe business.
Director-general of the Abia State Marketing and Quality Control Agency, Mr. Sam Hart, was among those who witnessed the governor’s enrollment as a student at the academy.