By EricJames Ochigbo
A London based organisation, Brooke Action for Working Houses and Donkeys, has commended the House of Representatives for initiating a bill to criminalise indiscriminate killing of donkeys in the country.
In a letter addressed to the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ahmed Datti (APC- Kaduna) the organisation expressed happiness over the steps taken by Nigerian parliament to address the threats against the survival of donkeys.
The letter was jointly signed by the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer, East Africa, Mr Fred Ochieng and his West Africa counterpart, Mr Emmanuel Sarr.
The organisation said it has been informed about a planned parliamentary process on donkey trade in the country.
“The trade in donkey hides for the manufacture of ejiao in China, is increasing and has a significant detrimental effect on the donkey population in other parts of Africa, directly impacting on the livelihoods of those donkey owning communities.
“We therefore wish to show our solidarity with you by fully supporting the bill prohibiting the killing of donkeys in Nigeria and the exportation of donkeys, or its carcasses or derivatives out of Nigeria.
“Fighting for the improvement of animal health and welfare is critical for the prosperity of the communities and individuals who rely on them and we are proud to support you on this,” it said.
The bill which was tabled for public hearing on Thursday also elicited supports from International agencies such as the Donkey Sanctuary in the UK who sent a team led by Simon Pope.
The sponsor of the bill, Ahmed told the hearing that his decision to author the bill was borne out of his observation of what is going on in Northern Nigeria.
He said that donkey owners were selling the animals off to foreigners who exported them for industrial use.
The legislator said that the trend is a threat to the existence of donkeys and there is urgent need to act fast.
However, some stakeholders at the hearing disagreed with the legislator on the bill seeking to ban the killing and exportation of donkeys.
The stakeholders included the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) and the Donkey Skin Processors, Marketers and Exporters Association of Nigeria (DSPMEAN).
They argued that the bill would be detrimental to the donkey value chain, suggesting that the animal breeding should rather be encouraged.
They also argued that the high demand for the animal in the international market is an opportunity for the country to gain foreign exchange.
According to them, the value chain provided livelihood for no fewer than 50,000 persons and that outright ban would contribute to unemployment and security challenges facing the country.(NAN)