By Sumaila Ogbaje
National Chairman of the Donkey Dealers Association, Mr. Dike Ifeanyi has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent action to protect their N60 billion investment in the donkey trade through proper regulation.
Ifeanyi made the call during a press conference organized by a coalition of civil society organizations on Monday in Abuja.
He alleged that the smuggling of donkeys, particularly by the Chinese, continued to negatively impact the cumulative benefits of the business to the Nigerian economy.
Ifeanyi said the activities of Chinese smugglers in the country’s forest have gone unhindered due to inadequate regulation of the company.
He added that the demand for donkey hinds was high in international markets.
He urged the government to give carte blanche to the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) to regulate the activity and curb the smuggling of donkeys from Nigeria.
According to him, the business started centuries ago and was operated in a very colonial way that affected our people significantly.
“It is very important to note at this point that the effect of the smuggling of exploited donkeys from Nigeria to China becomes so worrying.
“It has a multiplier effect on the economy of this country.
“The NAQS came out with a very robust and regulatory framework as available in other countries in Africa and around the world.
“They were talking about ranching, they were talking about raising and grazing this animal to avoid the morbid fear of a situation like this that had been propagated by the donkey sanctuary.
“We want to take this opportunity to let Nigeria know that any attempt to gag the power of the NAQS by doing a very wonderful job in this settlement is an indirect means of encouraging smuggling,” he said.
Ifeanyi said the Chinese were happy that the donkey trade remained unregulated in Nigeria, adding that some government officials were sabotaging the government’s efforts.
He said animals like camel, horse and donkey among others were brought to Nigeria from neighboring countries.
“So we implore the president to come and save our investment of over 60 billion naira,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of CSOs, Mr. Christian Achem, said the coalition saw fit to lend its voice to the slaughter of donkeys and export to Nigeria.
Achem said President Buhari on March 21 ordered that foreigners be barred from entering the forest to engage in the direct buying and slaughter of donkeys in Nigeria.
He said the memorandum has been duly conveyed to all relevant agribusiness stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture.
He noted with concern, however, that the ministry had not implemented the directive and had continued to tacitly allow Chinese nationals to visit the forest and deal directly with these companies.
“We urge the Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammad Buhari, the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives to immediately begin a thorough investigation into the allegations that NAQS collected several million naira as a bribe from Chinese nationals, to guarantee their illegality.
“The slaughter and export of donkeys has undoubtedly become a lucrative economic platform capable of injecting N60 billion into the Nigerian economy through direct investment.
“It is also capable of creating over 250,000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
“This economic potential of the sector can only be fully exploited if the sector is well regulated to serve the best interests of Nigeria.
“At a time when the country’s economy is on the brink of collapse, we expected the government in place to take advantage of this economically promising sector to advocate for the revitalization of our economy.
“It will also allow it to serve as a rallying point to alleviate the skyrocketing unemployment rate in the country,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Idris Abdulrahman