Following the bill to prohibit the killing and exportation of donkeys or their carcasses, which has passed a second reading in the House of Representatives in November, the Donkey Skin Processors, Marketers and Exporters Association of Nigeria (DSPMEAN), has faulted the bill stressing that it was done in ignorance and capable of killing the local investors in the donkey business, who have committed enormous resources to breed, market and export donkeys.
National Vice Chairman of the Association, Ifeanyi Dike, told a media parley in Abuja that rather than initiate a bill to ban exportation of donkeys, the government should be more proactive to regulate the industry and stop the smuggling which has sabotaged the business, that should have created a multi-billion investment to Nigeria especially in this time of low oil prices.
Dike pointed out that between 2012 and 2018, Nigeria has cumulatively lost in revenue over $2 billion annually totaling over $7 billion in six years to the smuggling of donkey parts to other countries especially China. He explained that with modern technology; donkey business has the potential to deepen the efforts being made to diversify the economy and add value to the economy of Nigeria with the multiplier effects.
The bill sponsored by Garba Muhammed (APC-Kaduna), seeks to address the threat of donkeys going into extinction, and to preserve its aesthetic, ecological, historical, recreational and scientific values to the nation. Muhammed said it was necessary that donkeys were preserved for use particularly for transportation, among other uses.
“Recently, the donkey population has severely reduced. The reason ascribed to this development, like in many countries of West African sub-region, is large scale exports to China.
“In China, where the donkey population has also nosedived, the demand for donkeys is extremely high because gelatine made from donkey skin is highly priced as a nutritional tonic which nourishes the blood and boosts the immune system,” he said.
The bill, therefore, recommends a penalty of 10 years imprisonment for offences committed.
Dike however, said that his association has all the modern technological equipment to breed, process market and export donkey skin in a manner that will dispel the fear of extinction as suggested by the bill. He added that the menace of smuggling is caused by inadequate regulations even as he called on government to make the business very viable by setting rule for ranching of donkeys and also stop the indiscriminate slaughtering of donkeys by unauthorized persons to avoid extinction.
He said that their factory has met all the standards required by the government to breed donkeys and they have written to the quarantine and submitted a profile of their Nigerian investor to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbe. He said further that the Vertinary unit of government has inspected their factory and saw their ranch which was certified okay.
Dike lamented that the lawmakers did not consult the stakeholders in the industry before initiating such a bill, which he said will kill the business of local investors. “We need to be protected. I don’t know where we got the analogue system of complete ban when there is an economic value.
“We are not very comfortable with that bill because we were not consulted to ventilate our own side so that there will be a comprehensive policy. The bill is counterproductive and ignorant of the potentials of donkey to add to our GDP and to act as catalyst to building our local economy,” he said.
He said that immediately there was a publication that the bill has passed a second reading, the association put a letter to the House of Representatives, the Senate and to the committee that is in charge, saying “we are waiting for them to invite us so that we can sit down and rob minds.”
He said that the only way a good investor will invest in the business is when he sees that there are regulations because an investor is not a gambler. “The best and only way is that the local industry should be protected. If you organize it very well you will see those people buying the skin coming to buy donkeys to train but if you don’t organize it they will keep their money and they will be smuggling it.
“There is a total collapse of the enforcement of the regulation system. Without the government getting involved, smuggling even has the greater potential to drive donkey into extinction. Government should appreciate the contribution of donkey business, give it a structure and give the local investors’ incentive and remove obsolete regulations.
“We are calling on the federal government and the lawmakers to pay attention and convene a stakeholders meeting that will bring sound idea on the solution to extinction. Let us borrow from Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Tanzania and even Peru just to mention but a few. In these countries, there are standard regulations and control of the indiscriminate slaughtering of donkeys for preservation purposes and the avoidance of extinction,” he said.
Innocent Odoh, Abuja