The Oyo State Government has disclosed that discussions are ongoing towards the establishment of a leather products making hub in the state.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Oyo State, Mrs. Atinuke Ogunkoya, stated this in Ibadan during the graduation of the first batch of graduates of Intensive Leather Making Course, organised by Femi Bags in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
She said, “Without a doubt, the NEPC is going to be working closely with the state government and I know that that is going to be a very strong area of focus; so, we are going to be pushing that in Oyo State.
Ogunkoya said that the skill in leather making, which the graduates had acquired, was very important and in line with the focus of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
She said, “It is not all about going to school to get all the knowledge. We all need to be skilful and gain non-academic education and I believe this will go a long way in enhancing the lives of our youths.
“I would like to encourage the graduates of today not to stop at what they learnt in the last two weeks but to continue to enhance themselves.”
The Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Oyo State, Taibat Agaba, said that the state government was doing a lot to encourage leather work and Aso Oke craft.
She said it showed its commitment to industrialisation, made-in-Nigeria products as well as technical skill development.
Agaba said, “The fundamental of being a good business owner is learning the trade. There will always be challenges but if you don’t work through those challenges, you will never make it. Also, we need to be aware of the standard guidelines for the products we are making and understand that if the guidelines are not met, the product will not be good enough for export.”
The Regional Coordinator, South-West, NEPC, Mr. Babatunde Faleke, said that leather had a huge market, adding that people exported sheep from Kano to make leather abroad and resell to Nigerian leather product makers as raw materials.
According to him, Nigeria needs to add value to her leather in order to be part of the huge global leather trade.
He said also that by training more people in the requisite skills, the problem of labour unavailability in the country would be solved.
The Chief Creative Director, My World of Bags, makers of Femi bags, Mrs. Obafemi Olayebi, said she was fulfilled and grateful that the opportunity was given to her firm to train participants in leather products making.
She added, “It is a dream come true because it is something I have wanted to do for a long time but I did not have the right logistics in place. But when I got the right push from NEPC, I told myself to do what I can with what I have.”
According to her, leather-making process involves many aspects and there is an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the process.
Olayebi said, “We need to realise that not everybody can be a handbag designer or a shoemaker. You can be a designer for a design company. You can do nothing but sketch people’s work.
“The processes are too many and there are lots of youths out there who have absolutely nothing to do and who need to be empowered.”
She urged the graduates to keep learning, adding, “Don’t ever stop learning and whatever you do, strive for excellence.”
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