The National Chairman, Donkey Dealers Association, Mr Dike Ifeanyi, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps towards safeguarding their N60 billion investment in donkey business through proper regulation.
Ifeanyi made the call at news conference organised by a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations on Monday in Abuja.
He said the activities of the Chinese in the nation’s forest had continued to impact negatively on the accruable benefits of the business to Nigeria’s economy.
Ifeanyi said the activities of Chinese smugglers had been on without hindrance because of inadequate regulation of the business, adding that the demand for donkey hinds was high in the international markets.
He urged the government to give free hand to the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) to regulate the business and checkmate the smuggling of donkeys from Nigeria.
According to him, the business started centuries ago and has been operated in a very colonial manner that our people have been drastically affected.
“It is very important to note at this point that the effect of smuggling of donkey being harnessed from Nigeria to China is becoming so worrisome.
“It is having a multiplier effect in the economy of this country.
“The NAQS came out with a very robust and regulatory framework as it is obtainable in other countries in Africa and the world.
“They talked about the ranching, they talked about the breeding and going into pasture of this animal to avoid the morbid fear of a situation like it had been propagated by the donkey sanctuary.
“We want to use this opportunity to let Nigeria know that any attempt to gag the power of the NAQS doing a very wonderful work in this regulation is an indirect way of encouraging smuggling,’’ he said.
Ifeanyi said the Chinese were happy that the donkey business had remained unregulated in Nigeria, adding that some government officials were sabotaging the effort of the government.
He said that animals like camel, horse, and donkey among others, were being brought to Nigeria from neighbouring countries.
“So we are crying to the President to come and save our investment of more than N60 billion,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Mr Christian Achem said the coalition found it expedient to lend their voice to the slaughtering of donkeys and exportation in Nigeria.
Achem said that President Buhari had on March 21, directed that foreigners should be stopped from going into the forest to engage in direct purchase and slaughter of donkeys in Nigeria..
He said the memorandum was duly forwarded to all the relevant stakeholders in the agro business, including the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to him, the ministry has failed to implement the directive and has continued to give tacit approval to Chinese nationals to go into the forest and deal directly in these businesses.
“We invite the Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammad Buhari, the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives to immediately commence a thorough investigation into the allegations that NAQS collected several millions of naira as bribe from the Chinese nationals, to secure their illegal release.
“Donkey slaughter and exportation has no doubt become a juicy economic platform that is capable of injecting N60 billion into the Nigerian economy by way of direct investment.
“It is also capable of getting over 250,000 Nigerians direct and indirect employment.
“This economic potential of the sector can only be fully harnessed if the sector is well regulated to serve Nigeria’s best interest.
“This period when the country’s economy is in a near meltdown, we expected the government of the day to take advantage of this economic-promising sector to make a strong case for the revitalisation of our economy.
“It will also allow it to serve as a rallying point for the mitigation of the skyrocketing unemployment rate in the country,” he said.