When she was receiving Master Potter Levi O’Bem Yakubu, President of Dajo Pottery Limited, the Honourable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar has hinted of a coming Government Policy which she said will not only address the challenges faced by practitioners in the sector, but will lift the socio-economic fortunes of the nation. “We are in the process of evolving needed policy to guide the Ceramic Sector and we will need the input of persons like you (Levi O’Bem Yakubu) to ensure that areas which need to be addressed by the coming policy to the advantages of practitioners and our national economic development are taken into consideration.”
Hajia Abubakar further remarked that talents abound in Nigeria who can take every sector of the nation’s quest to enviable heights but policies which will drive and encourage such talents are the preoccupation of Government. She emphasized that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has not been found wanting in engaging sectors’ stakeholders to come up with needed policies, especially those which encourage national economic growth in non-oil sectors as well as generate employment. She therefore, immediately directed her aide to take Master Potter Levi O’Bem Yakubu to the Growth and Employment (GEM) office which is an Agency of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and World Bank for further engagements.
The Honourable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar also promised to explore the schedules of President Muhammadu Buhari with a view to arranging a meeting of the Master Potter with Mr. President to address other requests of the visiting Master Potter “at the shortest possible time.”
Master Potter Levi O’Bem Yakubu, President of Dajo Pottery Limited visited the Honourable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar on 16th January, 2018 to present the African Continental 1st Overall Best Product Design Award won by Dajo Pottery Limited “For Nigeria” at the African Arts and Crafts Expo that Nigeria hosted in Abuja from 27th August to 17th September, 2017. Levi O’Bem Yakubu revealed to the Honourable Minister that in the 10 year old continental event (African Arts and Crafts Expo), Dejo Pottery participated consistently for six times and won in all the six times to lift the ceramic potentials of Nigeria to the global space.
It may be recalled that in 1984, whilst President Muhammadu Buhari was Military Head of State, he restricted the importation of tableware ceramics among other products, to conserve Nigeria’s foreign exchange and this made many like Master Potter Levi O’Bem Yakubu to invest in the ceramic sector.
It may also be noted that Nigeria ranks 9th out of 18 World economies for ceramic trade but no ceramic export! The market demand analytical statistics by the United Nations ComTRADE indicates that the total market value for ceramics in Nigeria grew from $317 Million in 2009 to $600 Million in 2015 giving an average growth of 150%. Given this statistics in ceramics sector, Master Potter Levi O’Bem Yakubu pleaded to have the backing of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment through its Industrial Development Department to address the several setbacks of ceramics sector where the domestic sales and imports continue to surge till date.
Master Potter Levi O’Bem Yakubu gave his shopping list to help develop the ceramics sector in Nigeria to include Special Grant which he wants to be “Patient Capita” or “Venture Capita” to migrate from manual operation to fully automated operation which he said, will boost productivity and employment as well as commissioning of local potters like him, to produce exquisite ceramic souvenirs that top Government officials can present to their colleagues and visitors with confidence and pride in the creativity.
Master Potter Levi O’Bem Yakubu submitted that the ceramic sector with full Government attention and encouragement “is capable of producing a quantum of broad spectrum products like burnt bricks, floor, wall and roof tiles, sanitary wares, electrical insulators, refractories and paints among other things.” The Master Potter further recommended that the target of Government’s intervention to revolutionize the ceramic sector should be to meet domestic needs and for export in the ECOWAS regional market and beyond.
Signed: Olujimi Oyetomi