Many Nigerians have opposed plans by the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILST), Zaria, to lobby the National Assembly to legislate against the consumption of cooked cow skin, popularly known as ponmo.
Recall that the Director General of NILST, Prof. Muhammad Yakubu, recently announced that the institute and other stakeholders would lobby the National Assembly to pass a legislation banning the consumption of the popular cow skin as a means of reviving the moribund tanneries and leather industry in the country. He said since ponmo has no nutritional value, its consumption should be banned to make more leather available for the production of bags, shoes and others.
However, some Nigerians who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS kicked against the proposal. In the face of high cost of living and the rising cost of food items, they faulted Yakubu’s argument. They said ponmo remains the hope of the common man.
Read some of the reactions below:
Do you support government’s plan to ban ponmo?
Banning ponmo to revive the leather industry is an exercise in futility. I know some diabetic patients who eat ponmo on health grounds. If you ban it, what happens? Is the Federal Government implying that without the ban, the leather industry can’t be revived? Ponmo has its nutritional value and some women sell ponmo so if you ban it, how will they survive? Will the Federal Government provide alternative means for the ponmo sellers to survive? For crying out loud, the Federal government should not ban ponmo.
It is laughable that the Federal Government’s strategy to revive the leather industry is to ban ponmo consumption. Their role should have been to put not just policies in place but activities to discourage the consumption of ponmo. They should be looking at ways of bringing down the cost of food, especially meat and fish. Majority of people resorted to ponmo because they could not afford meat and fish. Instead of subsidising petrol, let the Federal Government subsidise things that can boost food production.
I am very worried about the type of people the Federal Government appoints to speak on such sensitive issues. Record shows that Nigeria’s leather export is the highest in countries like Spain and Italy. So how does ponmo affect the leather industry? Ponmo is another source of roughages. Is ponmo responsible for the economic downturn, unemployment, uncontrollable rise of the dollar and pounds, insecurity and banditry? Ponmo is the common man’s hope and should not be taken away by a confused agency.
If truly the Federal Government is serious about reviving the leather industry, it is good but I don’t think banning of ponmo is the way to go. The Federal Government should think of ways to boost cattle production so that there will be meat for consumption and skin for leather production. The truth is that those who buy ponmo are also spending money which is still generative revenue for government.
While one supports industrial development, it should not be at the detriment of the poor. Leather industry can still be revived without banning ponmo consumption. A reasonable people-friendly government would approach it in phases because most Nigerians as at today can neither afford meat nor fish; they can only afford ponmo. So if you take it away from them, what are you giving them as an alternative? The Federal Government should focus more on textile industry.
One of the most important ingredients for progressive ban is government providing substitutes. If banning ponmo is going to improve the leather industry, what is the substitute for ponmo? People consume ponmo because of some sort of satisfaction they derive. If you ban ponmo without a substitute for those who make a living by trading it as a business, then you have disabled some people. We need to get to a point where government policies won’t just be from emotions but from consulting all stakeholders.
The proposed ban will throw many Nigerians into the unemployment market. The unemployment will be caused through displacement of many traders out of their businesses and means of livelihoods. Ponmo is a known delicacy of the people of southwest Nigeria. Ponmo is not a hard drug, it is not harmful to the body. Sugar is harmful to people living with diabetes. Salt is harmful to people living with high blood pressure. Can we now say that this item be banned? Or what is the nutritional value of salt aside from taste. In fact, ponmo is recommended to elders instead of red meat. Yes, ponmo may not have nutritional value, but it is a harmless delicacy. Ponmo is the only affordable alternative to meat and fish for the masses who are struggling to cope with the current economic challenges facing the country. Any attempt to take this away from them may cause revolt. Furthermore, this is not a time to even suggest controversial policies. One of the responsibilities of good governance is to make sure you don’t inflict more hardship on the people.
Ponmo is a delicacy, especially in the South West. If the Federal Government wants to ban it, they need to enlighten the people first. I don’t know how effective the ban will be, or how they will enforce it. Some people earn a living selling ponmo so banning it overnight may not go down well with them. If they want to revive the leather industry, good, but they need to provide alternatives but the leather industry can be revived without necessarily banning the consumption of ponmo.
This plan to ban ponmo consumption shows the Federal Government can’t think out of the box. How will the ban of ponmo solve the economic problems of this country? If not for poverty, who would descend so low as to consume ponmo, an item with no nutritional value? So banning it makes no sense, because if one is rich, what will force you to eat ponmo?
Do we even have a leather industry? Everything we buy in Nigeria is not made in Nigeria, so who are they reviving it for, rich and famous? Almost everyone, regardless of financial status, eats ponmo. Ponmo is not allowed outside Nigeria even though some may smuggle it into other countries. So banning ponmo to revive the leather industry is for the rich and not for average Nigerians like you and I.
Banning the consumption of cow skin, locally known as ponmo, by the Federal Government of Nigeria in order to revive the leather industry and boost the economy is not a point at all.
For me, I substitute beef and fish with ponmo as a result of the high cost of the protein.
Personally, I like ponmo. It is something many of us eat now since meat and fish are costly. It is also good for elderly people. If you have N200, you will buy ponmo which can serve five people whereas the least you can get is beef that will be N1,000 and it is just five pieces or less. If the government decides to ban it, they want to inflict hunger on the people because the person that does not have money for meat will buy ponmo. I buy in large quantities, fry and keep it for cooking later, and sometimes, my children take it to school.
I will advise them not to ban it because a lot of us can’t do without eating it, not only because we enjoy it but because it saves money. For example, I went to the market to buy things; my initial plan was to buy N2,000 worth of fish, but when I saw the size of fish they offered me, I had to change my mind. So, I decided to buy two Titus fish at N700 each then and one ponmo at N300, making a total of N1,700. Things are tough and one needs to work with budget.
Banning the consumption of ponmo would mean taking away livelihood. Ponmo, as far as I know, is for eating; there is the white one they call bokoto. Why will the government want to ban this now? Don’t you know banning is an attempt to cause problems and take away the source of income of many of us? It is just not possible.
Any attempt to ban the consumption of cow skin would not only affect the consumers, but also take away jobs from some Nigerians. In the olden days, cow skin was mainly used by our fathers for praying mats and some other leather forms. No one ate it before but when civilization set in, people began to process it for consumption. Now that lots of Nigerians are eating it and it has become a daily job for many, banning it will have effect on a lot of people.
Banning ponmo to revitalise the leather industry is not justifiable. I know it does not contain protein but it is serving many Nigerians as food. Banning ponmo which is used by people from the eastern and western part of the country is an attempt to deny majority of poor people the opportunity of having the cheap cow skin. Ponmo is cheap and affordable, and for many, eating it with food is more like they have taken beef. Though it doesn’t add any protein or fat to the consumers, people enjoy it. I am sure if they ban it, many people will not be happy.
So, out of the numerous challenges presently confronting Nigeria, banning ponmo consumption is the Federal Government’s concern? To me, this doesn’t make sense. The poor masses bank on ponmo because they cannot afford meat or fish. The only thing that this present administration is good at is to ‘ban’ people’s happiness and make life unbearable for them.
The consumption of ponmo is not responsible for the collapse of the leather industry and likewise banning the consumption will not revitalise the industry automatically. The demand and export of our finished leather goods suffered from a lack of good policies and lack of power supply.
Banning of ponmo consumption is a misplaced priority and should be the last thing to bother the Federal Government for now as the country is currently facing many challenges that need urgent attention. I wonder what an average Nigeria who can’t afford to buy other delicacies due to the economic situation of the country will be surviving on if the ban is enforced.
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