The Director-General of Defence Research and Development Bureau, Abuja, Jumo Osahor, says the Armed Forces of Nigeria need about N9 billion to provide military boots annually to meet soldiers’ kitting needs.
Osahor, an air vice marshal, stated this on Thursday in a paper he delivered at the Third Annual National Conference organised by the Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists of Nigeria (SLTCN) at the Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST), Samaru, Zaria, Kaduna State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference is: “The Contributions of Leather Science, Technology and Innovation to the Nigerian Economy and National Security.”
NAN also reports that the Commandant spoke on: “Indigenous Leather Production and Military Kitting: The Armed Forces of Nigeria Perspective.”
His words: “The Armed Forces of Nigeria will require about N9 billion to provide a pair of work shoes and boots for each soldier.
“The amount will double if we are to provide two pairs each per soldier every year.
“This huge sum of money if channelled to the indigenous leather industry will go a long way in revamping the sector and improving our national economy as well as security forces and provide jobs to our teeming youths.
“However, the leather industry in Nigeria is yet to take advantage of the huge potential that exists in the military leather requirements of the AFN.”
He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria comprising the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force all utilise leather materials as part of their military kitting.
“These range from service shoes to combat boots among others. With strength of over 200,000 personnel, the requirement for shoes and boots is quite enormous especially with the requirement of at least two pairs of shoes and boots each per person per year.
“This translates to about more than half a million pairs of leather wares that could be provided through indigenous leather production industry yearly.
“At an estimated cost of N30,000.00 for a pair of quality working shoes (Bates) and N15,000.00 for combat boots”.
Declaring the conference open, the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, gave the assurance that the ministry would partner with any professional body interested in any research field that would enhance the growth and diversification of the economy.
The minister, who was represented by the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology, Eucharia Ngozi-Oparah, urged the participants to deliberate effectively on topical issues that would address the challenges in the leather industry.
He stressed the need for effective deliberation particularly in areas where the economy would be improved through value addition of leather and leather products.
Earlier, the National President, SLTCN, Solomon Tanko, said the essence of the conference was for professionals to deliberate and brainstorm on prospects and contributions of leather to national growth and development.
He described the leather industry as strategic in view of its importance and critical role in the diversification of the nation’s economy.
Tanko observed that leather and leather related products were key to industrial growth that would certainly pave way for jobs opportunities and wealth creation.
The president appealed to participants to avail themselves of the opportunity to improve their knowledge and professional skills to take Nigeria to greater heights.