Senate President Ahmad Lawan has expressed the need to restrict importation of footwear into the country in view of their availability locally.
Lawan stated this during the official commissioning of the multi-million-naira Enyimba Automated Shoe Company (ENASCO) established at Obikabia by the Abia state government.
The senate president, who was accompanied by the chief whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, Senator Theodore Orji, and other senators vowed to ensure that ENASCO becomes the hub of direct and indirect employment in the country.
ENASCO, which has the capacity to produce 5,000 pairs of shoes daily, currently employs over 120 Abia youths.
According to Lawan: “We cannot continue to import everything. We don’t even have foreign reserves anymore. So, this project in addition to providing employment in Abia directly, it’ll indirectly provide jobs at the leather industries in other states.
“I believe that this project deserves the attention of every federal agency more especially the ministry of industries itself and indeed the CBN must be looking at this direction so that it can expand.
“While we have 120 youths been employed here, I’m sure that two years after we should quadruple the rate of employment here and that will require improvement in all angles here. I’m sure that as one of you now, we’ll push for more support for this particular industry.
“We have our agencies already making requests for boots and of course some garments by the time the garment industry takes off. I think we should do more than that. We must Nigerianize to create employment for our youths.”
Lawan hinted that as the senate commences its budget defence, he would instruct all senate committees to direct agencies that require boots to come to Aba.
Speaking earlier, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu said that ENASCO will help position Nigeria into the leather industry ecosystem globally and ensure Nigeria derives copious revenue from it.
“ENASCO will push out 5000 pairs of shoes every day to launch Nigeria into the fast-growing shoe industry globally. We can become major players in the leather industry ecosystem if we’re intentional about it.
“It is only through the patronizing of our own products that we can revitalize our economy and be self-sufficient in all we want. “We’re a doing a similar factory that will have full automated garment factory. We’re looking for a way to compete with Vietnam and Bangladesh in the supply chain of garments across the world”, he said.