By Augustina Anyaegbu
A RECENTLY proposed ban on the sale and consumption of hides and skin popularly known as Pomo appears to have unsettled traders and consumers of the product who have vowed to resist any move to outlaw their cherished delicacy.
Apart from what is considered as its appealing taste, pomo is also favoured by many Nigerians trying to cut down on the consumption of red meat on health grounds. So the idea mooted recently to remove pomo from the menu of Nigerians has not gone down well with many, especially Lagosians, who regard such decision as a drastic measure against their interest and want it dropped pronto.
But the Federal Government says it wants to implement the proposed ban on the sale and consumption of hides and skins based on economic considerations. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina made this known at the Third Joint Anniversary of the Animal Science Association of Nigeria, ASAN and Nigeria Institute of Animal Science held at the University of Ibadan. He had called for a stronger check on the consumption and sale of the product which would enable farmers make a bigger profit because they would able to turn the hides and skins into leather.
But speaking to Vanguard Metro, VM, Mr. Gozie Madu wondered why pomo should be considered a problem when there are more pressing challenges confronting the country at this time.. According to him: “ What is this nation turning into? Pomo is the cheapest source of meat for the poor man. So banning it is like banning poor people from eating meat which is very bad and inhuman. It will not solve the numerous problems Nigerians are facing now.”
For one Mr. Nnaji Okey: “This is where the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Our leaders are selfish and wicked. The rich are there eating chicken, turkey, goat, which we cannot afford. Now they want to bar us from eating our cheap and affordable pomo.”
A pomo seller, Mrs.Toyin Taiwo, would want the Federal Government to immediately rescind the decision to ban pomo, saying the action will only destroy her only source of livelihood. “ This is the only business I do and from it, I train my six children. My husband abandoned me and my children and ran away with another woman. He is not even bothered whether the children are feeding well or not. If it should banned, we will die of hunger and starvation,” she said.
Another pomo dealer, Mr. Joshua James, had this to say: “I started selling hide and skin (pomo) as a butcher after searching for job for six years without success. If the Federal Government should ban the product, then it means I will become unemployed. They should provide jobs for us before taking such a drastic action. The masses are suffering; some people are dying of hunger every day and yet our little livelihood is about to be taking away from us. I’m about getting married and there is no other business that I’m doing to feed my future family except this.”
The owner of God is Good beer parlour, Mrs. Onyinye Orji, also has something to say about the matter. “This should be the last thing the FG will think of doing. Pomo meat is what brings people to my beer parlour. Some people prefer to eat it than meat. Banning it will be like depriving some people what gives them pleasure,” she said.
But an agriculturist, Mr. Kayode Toyin, gladly supports the proposed ban. According to him, pomo has no nutritional value to human health. “It’s nothing but chaff and does not add any nutritional value to the body. Nigerians should wake up and see the usefulness of it. Italians use it to make shoes and bags and are becoming richer by the day while we, Nigerians, are using it as meat and have become poorer in the process.
But before they ban the product, let them do the appropriate things first. Like finding solution to the numerous challenges facing the country such as Boko Haram, unemployment, insecurity and Ebola. The Federal Government should make meat affordable for the poor people. They should consider the poor and find a solution to help in the little way they can”.
Mrs. Nnenna Okorie on her part prefers that the ban should be selective. “I eat pomo as an appetiser. But based on my experience, I think what should be banned is the cooked one because I once saw a pomo seller adding chemical to it. When I questioned her she said the chemical would enable the pomo to rise. So since then, I stopped buying the cooked one but only the uncooked one from the butcher. Banning it totally shouldn’t be our problem now. Nigeria has bigger problems which our leaders should find ways of tackling not hide and skin.”