By Abdulfatai Abdulsalami, Sokoto
Gov. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state has assured the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) of the willingness of his administration to partner it to embark on the rebuilding of the leather industry in the state.
This is as both entities maul further cooperation on an advanced plan by the state government to embark on the production of military boots.
Gov. Tambuwal gave the assurance on Wednesday in Abuja when he received a country team of the UNIDO at the Sokoto state Government liaison office in Asokoro.
Recalling the long standing relationship, the State has with UNIDO, especially the latter’s support for the development of Sokoto Cement Company (SCC), the Governor pointed out that it is on record that communities in the state have proven that they are ‘investment friendly,’ thus the existence of SCC in the state since 1965.
“I have personal interest in ensuring that the relationship between our state and UNIDO is reestablished. Whatever you want us to do we’re ready. I’m sure that you are aware that, for technical reasons, Sokoto is second in the ease of doing business in the country,” Tambuwal said.
He added that: “We’re keen on seeing that our people benefit from the proceeds of their sweat. Virtually all of what is the Moroccan and other foreign leather is originally from Sokoto,” hinting that the state will in no distant time become the leader in the leather industry in the country.
“I believe this is the partnership we’ve been waiting for. We want it to take off immediately,” he emphasized, suggesting to the teams at the meeting (state governments and UNIDO) that modalities for the execution of the envisaged partnership should be outlined and fine-tuned.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Bashir Gidado, who led the Managing Director of the Sokoto State Investment Company, Alhaji Muhammad Buhari Dasuki and Alhaji Tukur Umar to the meeting, expressed appreciation to UNIDO for its interest to partner with the state government.
“This is a step in the right direction as our relationship has come a long way for strategic reasons,” he noted, stressing the commitment of the State towards strengthening the partnership once it is forged.
He explained that in anticipation of such development Gov. Tambuwal has before now directed that a Common Facility Center (CFC) should be identified and located somewhere in the state to facilitate the smooth execution of such partnerships. ‘This has been done and soon it will take off,” he said.
In her remarks, the Head Investment and Technology Promotion Office of UNIDO Nigeria, Abimbola Olufore, commended the state government and the governor for their interest in resuscitating the leather business in the state.
She specifically applauded Gov. Tambuwal for the grant of over 500 hectares of land to the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) for its operations in the state.
According to her, the Interest of UNIDO in the state’s leather industry “is not new and our Italian counterparts have shown interest,” a development among others, which makes the organization look forward to holding an Investment Summit in Sokoto state next year.
Also in his brief remarks, the National Program Officer of UNIDO Nigeria, Dr Osuji Otu, stated that UNIDO insist on quality and standard of leather produce which can create a value chain that would make it easier for products to be sold anywhere.