A former chairman of the Oyo State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, and immediatepast Senior Special Assistant, SSA, to the Ekiti State governor on Tourism Development, Amb. Wale Ojo-Lanre, has described as “a brazen exhibition of patent indolence, a criminal showcase of incompetence at duty post and a shameful exposition of irresponsibility,” the proposed move by the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology, NILEST, Muhammed Yakubu, to approach the National Assembly to enact a law for the ban on the consumption of ‘ponmo,’ an animal skin product used as an adjunct at meals.

Amb Ojo-Lanre, who is also Nigeria’s foremost tourism and hospitality advocate and President of Ponmo Consumer Stakeholders in Nigeria, PCSN, pointed this out at a press conference in Lagos yesterday.

He said, “It is shameful, silly and unthinkable that a DG of a whole parastatal, charged with the sustainability of the leather industry sector and science technology, could not think outside of the box and unearthed sustainable strategies and formulas to shore up leather production
than the call for a ban of ponmo consumption.

“It is shallow thinking, empty and gross laziness on the part of the DG.” ‘

Amb Ojo-Lanre pointed out that the decrease in leather production in Nigeria is not a result of ponmo consumption, but a result of patent incompetence and gross dereliction of duty by the DG and the management of NILEST to rise to the challenges battling livestock farmers and growers in Nigeria.

“The fact is that because of the insensitivity of the DG and his team at NILEST, ‘ponmo’ too has not only been beyond the reach of the people, but is scarce, because of low production and lack of support to the livestock sector.”

Amb Ojo-Lanre further added, “Instead of these people to research into the low production in this sector and come up with the viable option of increments, they are making the option of banning ponmo consumption, which is not the solution.”

He called on Nigerians to ask the DG and NILEST when last have they “organised training and seminars for livestock growers in Nigeria; what incentives are available for livestock farmers in Nigeria; when last have they engaged livestock growers and farmers in Nigeria to evaluate their constraints and challenges; what is the total number of livestock farmers and growers in Nigeria; and what fund incentives and capital reliance agency for livestock growers and farmers in Nigeria.”

Other questions he wants the DG and NILEST to proffer answer to include: “the outcome or analysis of research and development they have carried out in the last three years; the palliative they have for livestock growers and farmers; why the are eager to ban ponmo; what they have done to address the lack of skills, technology, intermediate inputs and processing equipment battling livestock growers and farmers in Nigeria; and what the agency has done to solve the problem of poor linkages among different organizations involved with hides and skins.

He pointed out that ponmo, tanda, and other animal skin-related stuffs have been eaten from time immemorial, long before the DG was born and have not reduced the production of sellable leather in the global market.

The tourism guru disclosed that he expected the DG and his management to do a proper fact-checking of the low production of leather in Nigeria.

He added, “But because of sheer indolence and laziness, the duo believe that the consumption of ponmo must have drastically affected the output of leather in Nigeria.”

He said that the DG and NILEST, out ignorance of what they are expected to do and just looking for a cheap way to be reckoned with in justification of the fund allocated to them, just woke up and came up with such an unpopular idea.

Amb Ojo-Lanre said, “The livestock farmers and growers in Nigeria are under heavy burdens. No positive interaction from the government, livestock are under serious health infection, high cost of the drugs, due to exchange rate, inclement weather, dryness of dams and lack of green pasture; these and others are the challenges which daily incapacitate them, not the act of ponmo consumption.

“I, however, trust the National Assembly. It is composed of seasoned and reasonable people, who will never entertain such a jejune bill, not only talking of passing it into an Act. I am sure it will be thrown overboard.”

He assured members of his PCSN, ‘ponmo’ consumers across the country and all Nigerians to relax and never mind Yakubu Muhammed and his NILEST, which leave the substance and was busy chasing the shadow.

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