The National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees, NUCFRLANMPE, on Friday commended the Abia government for sponsoring 30 shoemakers to train in China.
The President of the union, Babatunde Olatunji, gave the commendation in an interview in Lagos.
He described the initiative as a genuine and visible effort to put Nigeria on the industrial map of the world.
On January 5, the Abia government sent the first batch of 30 out of 100 shoemakers, to undergo intensive training in automated shoe-making technology in China.
The government said that the gesture was part of its plan to improve the quality of shoes made in Aba, the industrial capital of Nigeria’s South East.
Aba is famous for its unique dressmaking, foot wears and other industrial facilities, fabricated by residents of the city.
“We pledge our total support and urge government at all levels to emulate the Abia State initiative to train youths on shoe-making to re-industrialise Nigeria,’’ Mr Olatunji said.
The unionist recalled that in the early years of industrial development between 1960s and 1980s, the footwear and leather sector contributed significantly to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
He said that there were leather-tanning factories in northern Nigeria, which contributed immensely to the economy of the region.
“It is regrettable today that animal skin is eaten as food, while value-adding has been neglected and Nigerians now depend on imported leather and footwear materials.
“The negligence of successive governments of leather and footwear products manufacturing has brought unemployment, over-dependence on foreign leather materials, high cost of leather goods and low GDP,’’ he said.
He argued that the challenges had contributed to the socio-economic setbacks witnessed in the country in recent years.
Mr Olatunji advised other State Governments to adopt the example of the Abia government to bring development to the grassroots.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government had on Jan. 29, trained 300 youths in the Federal Capital Territory on welding and fabrication as part of measures to tackle unemployment.
The youths also learnt fashion making, plumbing and piping skills through the National Industrial Skills Development Programme.