Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu stated this in Aba, Abia State while declaring open the second National Leather and Leather Products Policy Validation Workshop.
The workshop was aimed at sharpening the process that would enable the country to develop leather products policy to help strengthen the objectives of the new National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap 2017 to 2030, of the Federal Government.
It is expected to also provide the needed framework that would quicken Nigeria’s industrialization and boost the capacity to convert rich agricultural produce into viable goods for both domestic consumption and export.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Onu in a keynote address, said with emerging technologies, leather had the potential to break new frontiers and open windows of opportunities that would stimulate economic growth, restore national pride, self-confidence and enhance prosperity.
Dr. Onu explained that the objective of the Federal Government was to ensure that greater emphasis was placed on leather as an instrument for enduring development to transform the economy from a resource to knowledge based and innovation driven.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr.UdeOkochukwu expressed the commitment of the State Government to tackle unemployment and youth restiveness through industrialization.
Governor Ikpeazu said leather clusters had been established in various parts of the state with capacity building programmes for operators in the industry to enhance productivity and promised to sustain the campaign for increased patronage of made in Nigeria shoes and garments.
The Acting Director General, Nigeria Institute of Leather and Science Technology, Dr. EuchariaOpara noted that the nation’s desire of becoming one of the twenty largest economies in the world by the year 2020 could only be attained when leather products through the required innovation was fully integrated into the nation’s socio-economic development process.
Presenting the draft National Leather and Leather Products Policy, Mr. Bello Yakassai of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, enumerated challenges militating against quality leather production and observed that Nigeria was losing millions of dollars annually to the patronage of foreign leather products.
Some participants in the workshop while bearing their minds, stressed the need for increased government investment in leather production and processing as well as effective collaboration of all stakeholders to tap the huge opportunities in local leather manufacturing for the benefit of the nation.
The event attracted major players in the nation’s leather products industry.