Customers protest the FG's proposed ponmo ban.


Customers protest the FG's proposed ponmo ban.
The Federal Government's announced intention to outlaw the consumption of roasted cow skin, also known as ponmo, has drawn criticism from certain Nigerians.

Recall that Prof. Muhammad Yakubu, the director general of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology, Zaria, recently declared that the institute and other stakeholders would approach the National Assembly and state governments to establish a legislation to outlaw the consumption of cow skin.

He claims that the measure is intended to revive the nation's dying tanneries and leather sector.

In order to rescue the industry and strengthen the economy of the country, he claimed it had no nutritious value and should be outlawed.

However, other customers, merchants, and experts who spoke to our correspondent in separate conversations claimed that outlawing ponmo would worsen the financial plight of the underprivileged.

Because ponmo is so expensive, a consumer named Rukayat Ishola said she was replacing meat and seafood with the protein.

Personally, I enjoy ponmo, she remarked. Due to the high expense of meat and fish, many of us now eat it. It's also advantageous for the elderly. Ponmo, which serves five people, may be purchased for N200, while beef, which costs N1,000 and only comes in five pieces or less, is the least expensive option.

If the government decides to outlaw it, they'll be causing people to go hungry since they'll be forced to buy ponmo instead of meat. I buy in bulk, fry it, save it for later use, and occasionally send my kids with it to school.

Titilayo Oyinlola, another customer from Ibadan, added, "I will ask them not to ban it because a lot of us can't do without eating it, not only because we enjoy it but also because it saves money.

"For instance, when I first arrived to this market to buy goods, I had planned to purchase a fish for N2,000, but I had to change my mind after seeing the size of the fish they were offering me. I therefore made the decision to spend a total of N1,700 for two Titus fish priced at N700 each and one ponmo priced at N300. Things are difficult, my brother, and one must manage a budget.

Rasaq Balikis, the chief executive officer of Bimras Catering Services and a caterer, advised mixing ponmo with meat or fish when arranging events to minimize costs.

"In most cases, people don't like veggies if they aren't garnished with ponmo and dried fish. Ponmo and dried fish provide the distinct flavor that people want when consuming veggies.

Because you may serve one ponmo, one beef, or one fish instead of two meats, it also helps you save money when preparing celebrations.

"Assuming you are hosting a party and you purchased N100,000 worth of meat, if you find that it is insufficient, you can purchase one bag of ponmo, which contains about 60 pieces, to replace it. Therefore, prohibiting it will significantly impact Nigerians, she continued.

Fatimah Sulaiman, a different caterer, emphasized that older individuals were more likely to need to consume cow skin and that doctors would always advise it for those who were at risk of consuming beef.

She emphasized that such a prohibition would leave such individuals without any other options.

Kabiru Agbon, a trader in cow skins, asserted that a prohibition on ponmo usage would mean losing his source of income.

As far as I'm aware, Ponmo is used for eating; there is also the white Ponmo known as Bokoto. Why would the authorities want to outlaw this right now? Don't you realize that attempting to outlaw it would be problematic and would strip many of us of our source of income? Simply put, it's impossible.

In a similar vein, Ishola Olalekan, the chairman of the Butcher and Meat Sellers Association at the Bola Ige International Market in Ibadan, claimed that any move to outlaw the consumption of cow skin would have an adverse effect on both consumers and some Nigerians' ability to find work.

"In the past, our forefathers mostly used cow skin for praying mats and other leather products. Before the advent of civilization, no one consumed it, but people started to prepare it for eating. A prohibition on it will have an impact on many individuals because it is now consumed widely in Nigeria and is a common source of income for many.

Before you talk about the individuals who consume it, there are people who depend on the processing, and another group is in charge of the sales. What will they be doing following the ban?" asked Olalekan.

Queen Orji, a specialist and dietician at Diadem Nutrition & Dietic Consult, asserted that prohibiting ponmo is not justified in order to revive the leather sector, highlighting the fact that despite lacking protein, ponmo provided as meals for many Nigerians.

She claims that the prohibition on the food item, which is consumed in both the eastern and western regions of the nation, is an effort to prevent the bulk of the poor from accessing the affordable cow skin.

Ponmo is inexpensive and accessible, and for many people, consuming it with meals is more like ingesting beef. People like it even though it doesn't give them any extra protein or fat. Many people won't be happy if they forbid it, I'm sure of that," Orji remarked.


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