Abia State: Stakeholders Calls For The Establishment Of Leather Industry In Aba
Participants that gathered for a one day stakeholders engagement and socialization for implementation of National leather and leather goods policy in Aba, organized by the Department of Animal Husbandry Services of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD in collaboration with WGNI Limited has called for a collaboration between the Abia State Government and the Federal Government for the establishment of a leather industry in Aba, the commercial nerve center of the State.
The Stakeholders drawn from the leather products manufacturers association of Abia State, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, Raw materials development, Trade and Investment and Ministry of Agriculture maintained that the leather industry aggressively championed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu cannot be solely rest on the shoulder of Abia state being a capital intensive project, hence the need for the Federal Government to come in and assist the state, which will also be beneficial to the national economy.
In his speech while declaring open a one the Permanent Secretary, Abia State Ministry of Agriculture, Sir Charles Agbara, maintained that Aba remains the hub of business in Nigeria and Africa and it has enormous potential to drive the economy of Nigeria without the petroleum sector, if the Federal Government will give it the needed attention it required.
Recall that during the formal launch and sensitisation workshop on the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan in Abuja recently, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was quoted thus, “Being one of the highest producers of lleather and finished leather products in Africa with a projected revenue of $1billion by 2025, the industry could become a game-changer for Nigeria’s economy by improving the country’s foreign exchange earnings, boosting growth, and providing employment for young Nigerians.
“…The next steps are clear and the stage is set for establishing the leather and leather products industry in Nigeria on a sure-footed and well thought out growth trajectory”.
Agbara pointed out that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu through his policies has strived and still striving to ensure that leather manufacturers are given the pride of place and argued that had the previous and present administration at the center had jettisoned ethnicity and improve Aba, the nation’s economy would have been thriving comfortably.
His words, “Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has been a good friend of leather products manufacturers and recently he has secured a contract to be producing military boots. Also, leather products manufactured in Aba are sold across the globe”.
Sir Agbara who lauded the organizers for bringing the workshop to Aba, described it as apt, even as he maintained that goods produced in Aba stands the test of time.
Speaking also, the President, Leather Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State, Mazi Okechukwu Williams passionately appealed to the Federal Government to intervene in the new leather production cluster mapped out in Aba by Gov. Ikpeazu in terms of developing, procurement of quality machines, power and security to enhance productivity.
In their respective speeches, the FMARD Abia State Director, Engr. Victor Ihediwa and Head of Division, Commercial Ruminant and Dairy Production, FMARD Mr. Alakeem Ibilade said the essence of the workshop is to sensitize the key actors in the leather sector on how to manager their resources for maximum productivity, particularly now that the nation is calling for the diversification of the economy.
They maintained that properly organized leather and leather products industry (which include animal husbandry, finished leather products, tanneries) could become one of the major items in Nigeria’s export basket.
They further disclosed the dogged efforts of the Federal Government to address specific challenges and shortcomings of the leather sector with pragmatic strategies to permanently resolve the issues for optimal productivity.