By Bello Hamza, Abuja
The Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST) with headquarters in Zaria has concluded arrangement aimed at establishing a Leather Tannery Centre in the ancient City of Idah, Kogi State.
Professor MK Yakubu, the Director-General of the Institute disclosed this during his courtesy visit to His Royal Majesty, the Attah of Igalaland, Dr. Alaji Matthew Opuluna Oguche Akpa at his Palace on Thursday 2nd of February, 2023.
The Director-General who led a detachment of his management Board members on an inspection visit to the proposed temporary Site of the Centre used, the occasion to pay a courtesy visit on the King in his Palace.
Intimating his host on the purpose of the visit, Prof. Yakubu brief the King on the historical background, Mandate, Mission and Vision of the Institute. According to him as one of the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the Institute being the first and the only one of its kind in the Sub-Sahara Africa has the sole mandate to provide courses of instruction, training and research in the field of Leather and related products.
Describing the request by the King for the establishment of NILEST Centre in Idah as timely, the Director-General said that the Leather sector is the second earner of foreign exchange after Oil but, its potential has not been fully explored to the advantage of national development because, despite the huge number of abattoirs located in the nooks and crannies of the nation providing Hides and Skins in millions daily, the Tanneries to convert (tan) these Hides and Skins into finished Leather are in comatose states hence, most of the Hides and Skins are been consumed locally as ‘Ponmo’ delicacy thereby, resulting in low production of finished Leather for export and in turn, diminishing the contribution of the sector to National development.
Prof Yakubu who is also the Chairman, Steering Committee on implementation of the National Leather and Leather Products Policy however, said there must be a change of narrative if the Leather sector must meet the Leather trade volume target of one billion Dollars in 2025.
According to the Director-General, NILEST is channeling means of reaching the 2025 projection through establishment of Leather Tannery Centers throughout the Country. The Tanneries when established will be used to convert the locally available Hides and Skins into finished leather for export and Local use. To him, the localities housing the Tanneries will be the first to benefit because the youths, women, and the vulnerable groups will be trained and empowered in the process, the available raw materials would be turned to wealth as well.
Prof. Yakubu however, reiterates that to achieve the aforementioned, the proposed host community must provide suitable land with existing structures, the Federal law makers in the area must support the establishment with Constituency Projects or Zonal Intervention Projects more so, the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation must approve the establishment of the Center.
Concluding his remarks, the DG said having visited the proposed temporary Site located at No:1Lona Avenue GRA Idah, the management will write a report on the visit and pass it to the Ministry for onward necessary actions. He further assured that soon Idah will house the proposed Centre.
Giving the welcome addresses, the Attah of Igala who is also the Chairman, Kogi Traditional Council of Chiefs thanked Prof. Yakubu and his management Team for the swift response to the special request he made for the establishment of the Leather Tannery Centre in Igalaland, North-Central Zone of the Country. He therefore, promised that he and his cabinet will harness all Arsenals at their disposal together and provide a conducive atmosphere to ensure the effectual take off of the Centre. According to him “we will involve our Senators and House members in such a way that priority will be given to the realisation of this objective by making it a part of the Constituency and Zonal Intervention Projects “.
Upon that assurance, the NILEST Team which comprises of the DG/CEO Prof. MK Yakubu, Director Admin/Registrar, Mr YY Midat, Director of Leather and Leather Products Technology, Dr Putshaka Julius, Coordinator Extension Centres, Mal Mikailu Sabo Abdullahi and, the Head of Procurement QS (Pst.) Omotayo Gabriel Oladija proceeded to inspect both the proposed temporary and permanent Sites of the Centre.