By Kenneth Ehigiator
The Federal College of Chemical and Leather Technology, Zaria, has raised an alarm over the danger posed to farm produce by the effluence discharged by tanneries located in Kano area of Kano State.
Although the college was set up to take on the responsibility of converting waste water to productive use, it hasnâ€™t been able to do this due to what the Director-General/CEO, Dr. Isuwa Adamu, described as financial dire straits.
Established in the early 1960s to produce middle level manpower for the country, the college has not been able to actually create jobs as it should due to lack of expansion.Â For instance, Dr. Adamu, while raising the alarm of food poisoning which could be caused by the use of effluence discharged by tanneries concentrated in the area by farmers explained thatÂ the waste water discharged from processing of raw hides and skin by the tanneries into the Chalawa River in Kano could be hazardous to crops produced in such farms and, by extension, dangerous for human consumption, as the water contains very toxic compounds.
â€œThe water is not only dangerous to crops produced by farmers, but also hazardous for human consumption.Â We have the capacity to convert this waste water to something useful but inadequate finance will not permit us to do this,â€ Dr. Adamu told newsmen in Zaria.
Although the college was granted autonomous status by the federal government in 1992, following the harmonisation of its four extension centres in Sokoto, Jos, Maiduguri and Kano to its Zaria site, it has not been sufficiently empowered to embark on serious research into leather and other related technologies as its mandate connotes.
Vanguard gathered that the collegeâ€™s capital votes from the federation account in the 2010 budget was mere N53 million, and this was later to be scaled down to as low as N24 million.Â The management of the institution is expected to embark on capital projects and research programmes, for which it has engaged no less than 41 researchers.Â It was learnt that the allocation for 2009 was even slightly better, having ben pegged at N35 million.
Dr. Adamu said these figures, in the face of paltry sums realised from internally generated revenue, were largely inadequate to embark on real production of leather products that could fetch it money. Some staff of the institution told Vanguard anonymously that the presence of the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, NARICT, Bassawa, in Zaria had also been an albatross for the college, as it had given impression of duplication of duties to the federal government.
According to some of the staff, that informs the little subventions the school gets from the federal government.Â The director-general somewhat confirmed this, saying the college had nothing to do with chemical as its name connotes, wondering why government had stuck to the name.
He said the management of the college had made strident appeals to the government to effect a change of its name, with the hope that the renaming would lead to the review upward of its allocation for capital projects and research.Â â€œWe do much more of research works and not chemicals.Â It is a misnomer that we are called a chemical college,â€ Adamu told Vanguard.
It was also learnt that inadequate finance had deprived the school from acquiring modern machines for its operations, as its workshops are still dotted with those acquired as far back as 1964.Â Vanguard investigations revealed that the college has the capacity to create jobs if it has the wherewithal to expand and embark on mass productions of leather products.
Some leather products sighted in its showroom, such as shoes, bags, belts, amongst other, could compete with those brought in from Dubai and Brazil.Â The DG, Dr. Adamu, told Vanguard that the college could become self-financing if N100 million lifeline annually could be injected into the system for three years.
â€œThis college has the capacity to sustain itself, if government will give us N100 million annually for three years to enable us acquire latest machines, engage in mass production of leather products even for exports and create more jobs for our teeming youths,â€ Adamu said.Â Except a few modern machines donated to the college by such UN agencies as the United nations Development Programme, UNDP; Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, the factory was largely strewn with outdated machines.Â Although the college currently has a staff strength of 270, the DG said it could create much more jobs, given the necessary life lines.