The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the National Leather and Leather Product Policy aimed at locally harnessing leather resources into finished products.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, made this known while briefing State House correspondents after the FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said that by the policy, Nigeria would locally process leather resources instead of exporting raw leather or semi-finished leather products.
“We will be in a position to finish our leather in terms of processing it into finished leather and then use that leather in the production of finished leather products.
“This has application in almost virtually every aspect of our lives—in footwear, furniture, apparel and also in the automobile industry.
“There is hardly any machine that you will open and you will not find a leather component; so we want to do this because this is the only way we can create more jobs; a lot of wealth; and then, we will be in a position to fight poverty.’’
He said that in the process of industrialisation, almost all countries normally started with textile and leather because they were not very high technology areas.
Onu said that currently, Nigeria had high comparative advantage in textile and labour as its labour cost was relatively low.
According to him, it is important that the policy is implemented as it will help to create jobs and wealth.
The minister said that as far as light leather was concerned, Nigeria was number three in Africa; and number eight in terms of exporting leather in the world.
“This is a very vital area because if we harness the livestock that we have in Nigeria and ensure that we process the hides and skin of animals in the country, we will be creating a lot of jobs.
“A very significant number of jobs and wealth will be created because we are going to have small scale industries springing up because the leather value chain in extensive..
“Those who will go to collect the hides and skin; those who will process them; those who will use the processed leather; those who will do them in stages.
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“You can have semi-finished leather; then you can have finished leather; in all these stages, you will now be having new businesses springing up—that is how jobs are created,’’ he said.
He said that at 2013, leather contributed almost, 921 million dollars to Nigeria’s economy, adding that there was time leather was number two revenue source in the non-oil sector.
Onu said that the leather industry was a very important one, adding that President Buhari was very determined to make sure that jobs were created.