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Eat ponmo or make leather: Reactions to FG’s proposal

Pommo is cow skin that has been processed for consumption.

Ponmo has long been a staple in many Nigerian households, and some cultures even consider it a delicacy.

On Sunday, the federal government announced that it will be introducing legislation to restrict the consumption of animal skin. The government believes that this move will instead revitalize the tanning industry.

Muhammad Yakubu, Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology, NILEST, Zaria, said in Abuja that the legislation was vital to restore the country’s moribund leather sector, which will not be achievable if animal skin consumption continues.

He was quoted as saying that ponmo has no nutritional benefit, sparking a long discussion in the country between pro-ponmo and anti-ponmo eaters.

Muhammed stated that the institution, in partnership with stakeholders, would approach the national lawmakers and the state governments to propose legislation banning the consumption of “ponmo.”

He said: “To the best of my knowledge, Nigerians are the only people in the world that overvalue skin as food, after all, Ponmo has no nutritional value. Yakubu said: “If we get our tanneries, our footwear and leather production working well in Nigeria, people will hardly get ponmo to buy and eat.

When completely implemented, it would bring most of the comatose tanneries back to life and increase industrial output, he continued to emphasize.

Reactions

Ponmo has become a source of livelihood for many people, replacing more expensive meats such as beef and chicken.

Getting people to give it up appears to be a difficult task, and an absolute ban may encourage it to be sold on the black market, increasing the cost.

Mrs Charity Akpan stated that ponmo is used as a spice in soups, whilst Mrs Joyce Mallam stated that individuals who cannot afford meat or fish use ponmo to console themselves.

’People that can’t afford meat and fish dey use console themselves with okro soup, we can cut N150 own in different pieces, dey use am, now them wan spoil every tin, wetin we do? Why them no focus there on other areas, why ponmo? Ponmo wey be the only affordable meat’’, Mrs Mallam expressing herself in Pidgin English.

Many who spoke to our reporter expressed the same sentiment about ponmo being tasty, cheap and accessible.

Threat to the leather industry

Professor Olufemi Aluko of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, argued that Nigeria is losing out to other nations in the $75 billion global leather market due to the consumption of ponmo.

Aluko attributed the predicament to the nation’s disregard for the leather goods sector in favour of oil production and the use of its animals’ hides and skin as food.

The professor highlighted a global industry report as confirmation of the situation and asked the country’s policymakers to refocus on the sector, which he saif has a high potential for export earnings and employment.

According to him, the sector would need to put in a lot of effort and coordination from the public and private sectors in order to advance significantly.

Atitudes are divided on whether the government should ban eating ponmo or save it.

Writing by Daniel Adejo; Editing by Saadatu Albashir