Despite the warning by the federal government on the consumption of cow skin (ponmo) due to the outbreak of anthrax in some neighbouring countries, the trade in the commodity still thrives in Lagos State, the nation’s commercial capital.
A survey of some markets in Mushin, Egbeda, Oshodi and Ikotun areas of Lagos revealed that the demand for ponmo hasn’t dropped.
Recall that the federal government on June 13, in a statement alerted the public about the outbreak of anthrax in some West African countries and advised against the consumption of hides.
The statement reads in part: “The disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man; that is it is a zoonotic disease.
It explained that anthrax spores were naturally found in the soil and commonly affected domestic and wild animals.
It specifically stated that the disease was widespread in Northern Ghana, bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
Meanwhile, a housewife, Mrs Adewunmi Onalaja, said, “I’d be lying if I say I haven’t heard the announcement, but it’s hard to comply. When the news broke out, I was afraid, but after a week I spoke with my customer and she told me she hasn’t gone to the market of late, so I bought from her.
“The only precaution I will take is that when the one I have stocked up from my customer finishes, I will stop buying till it’s safe.”
Chidera Ezeokocha, who runs a restaurant at Egbeda, said that cooking local delicacies such as afang, edikaikong and egusi were almost impossible without ponmo.
“I still put ponmo in my soups, those soups are incomplete without them, but I make sure I season it well. I thought the announcement was to alert us about poisonous ponmo.
“If I see a ponmo that is not good I will know, I have been in this food business long enough for me to know that a particular ponmo is bad.”
Sakirat Rafiu, who hawks peppered ponmo, said, “The truth is that I don’t believe Nigerians will stop trading in ponmo, except they start getting arrested, which I am not sure is possible.
“Ponmo is cheap and the demand for it is high and with how expensive things are, people don’t have a choice.” Kikiopefoluwa Idris, a businesswoman, said, “I always prefer ponmo. I buy it in bulk because it has a longer life span.”
On her part, Mrs Esther Adebamowo, the Iyaloja of Olugbede Market in Egbeda, appealed to buyers and sellers to comply with the government’s directive.
She said, “Government knows it all, and they’re particular about our well-being. I’d advise that we listen to them; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“On our part, there’s nothing we can do to stop the buying and selling of ponmo, except the government comes out to say anyone caught selling or buying will be punished.
“I, as iyaloja, can’t sanction the sellers.”
Meanwhile, following the government’s directive, it resuscitated the Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. (NAN)
The committee explained that people get infected with anthrax by coming in contact with infected animals or animal products.
It noted that the signs of anthrax are flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever and muscle aches, and that if not diagnosed and treated early, will lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death. (NAN)