Maryam Mustapha from Borno state, was one of the 48 newly graduated students trained by Nigeria Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST) in collaboration with UNDP. BINTA SHAMA reports,
The former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, had said that the leather industry is termed to be very critical to national growth and development because of how it will boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and increase the foreign exchange earnings.
He stated that this policy will solve most of the problems hindering the growth of the Leather sector and will enable Nigeria to produce shoes, belts and other leather products similar to what is obtained in other developed and developing countries of the world.
The Nigeria Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recently funded trainees from the Internally Displaced Person’s (IDPs), whom have succeeded in learning leather works.
NILEST has been in existence for over 50 decades and is recognised as the only tertiary Institution in the country engaged in training of middle-level and high-level manpower for the leather technology sub-sector of Nigerian economy.
I will start by expressing my gratitude unto Allah for the privilege and opportunity I have enjoyed this few months. Because at the initial stage back at home, I was doing nothing asides male traditional caps using to come by but by having the knowledge of making leather and leather works, I know I will do better.
We were trained by NILEST without paying a dime but the programme was sponsored by UNDP, granting each of us scholarship to be part of the training which took place for six months, between February and August. During the period, they took care of all our necessary needs in skill learning while we took care of our immediate and personal needs.
The materials given to us during the training was provided by NILEST and our teachers or instructors travelled all the way down from Zaria, to Abuja to tutor us.
We were promised to be given materials that we will use to continue our work and start making income independently after graduation but which was later changed to cash in the sum of one hundred and eighty thousand naira, (180,000) will be given to each of us which we will be used to purchase materials and rent a shop which wouldn’t be enough but I hope to spend mine prudently to make the efforts of the organisers worthwhile.
I am yet to sell my products to people. I had high expectations of patronage on the day of graduation but eventually the opposite occurred. I am of the opinion that maybe if I start with cheap materials I will enjoy the patronage of those from the grassroots since I am just starting and by the time my work is known then I can start doing big but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in myself or the great knowledge I have been able to acquire in just a short while because one will need to work with intelligence to make a headway in life.
Cost of invention
I am still optimistic that the product I have presently will sell and bring me more customers. I spent 7k on each of the bag which I can conveniently sell for 15k because the leather we use is the very expensive kind. Now that I make foot wears, I can include my traditional caps for men which goes with what I do now because I can make any kind of bags and footwear and all will tally along.
Actually, on my arrival home, well-wishers were pleased to see my finished product and also they have asked me to make shoes and bags for them that will be affordable in their capacity. On this other note, patronage has been good. But like I said earlier, at the initial stage I was sitting down idle and jobless doing nothing but with this I know that I will continue with what I have learnt, I am of the notion that an ‘idle mind is unproductive’, and when it is unproductive, it is automatically seen as dead.
Gratitude to supportive bodies
Well, at this juncture, I will like to appreciate the United Nations Development Programm (UNDP), the Nigeria Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST) and also your platform’Blueprint Newspaper’ for singling me out of so many of us and for this great opportunities rendered to us as unrecognizable citizens because we were not in the know of this opportunity going on and today I Maryam, can be called an inventor of leather works, and a bona fide manufacturer of shoes and bags.
I hope to grow and impact knowledge on interested persons around me to the extent of employing several persons to wipe away idleness and possibly poverty from my community.
Federal government should develop Nigerian youth
And I wish to add that the federal government should enhance its efforts to compliment this kind of initiative so that many Nigerians will be busy doing positive things rather than causing unnecessary havoc and conflict around. Because for me, the knowledge that has been impacted on me is indescribable and I never knew that knowledge could be this cheap so my appeal to the government of this country is to develop the youths for a brighter tomorrow.
If this programme can be consistent, I believe hooligans and thuggish life styles can be erased from our society at large. And I will live to make Nigerians proud.