The over 33-year-old dream of Ondo State to have a modern abattoir became a reality recently with the inauguration of a N528 million semi-mechanised facility in Akure.
It is an established fact that meat is a disease conveying agent and consumption of meat processed under unhygienic condition is responsible for certain diseases being suffered by human beings. Apart from the unhygienic conditions under which many meat being consumed were processed, cattle slaughtered and sold to unsuspecting members of the public in many cases, are not healthy. However, due to lack of necessary control and due to lack of modern processing facilities, unwholesome meat ended up on the table of many Nigerians.
The need to control the traditional method of meat slaughtering and processing, had remain a mirage due to the huge capital that is needed to build modern facilities and many instances government that is expected to provide funds for the building of these facilities failed to do so due to lack of vision and political will.
Therefore, the realisation of the need to reduce the consequences of consumption of unsafe meat and improve the capacity of stakeholders in the business of meat processing may have informed the action of the Ondo State Government under the administration of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko to take the bull by the horns and revisited the over 33 years old dream of the Sunshine State to have a modern abattoir in the state created in 1976.
The over 33-year-old dream finally became a reality on Thursday, January 27 with the inauguration of the ultra-modern semi-mechanised abattoir at Sango in Akure North Local Government at a ceremony witnessed by various stakeholders.
Giving the history of the project, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Alex Aragbaye said the project was first conceived in 1983 with the acquisition of the 18 hectares of land for both the abattoir and the cattle market.
According to him, the cattle market took off in 1985 while the abattoir project could not take off due to paucity of fund at the time. Aragbaye said the contract for the project was awarded in 2002 but was terminated in 2004 due to the contractor’s non-performance.
The permanent secretary said due to the termination of the project, the entire land mass was abandoned and overtaken by bush following which there was massive encroachment by land speculators and illegal landlords.
He said Mimiko, who assumed office in February 2009 revisited the abattoir project in 2010 while the main contract was re-awarded in 2011 to SCNC Technologies Nig. Ltd and its other components to other reputable companies to deliver specific jobs.
“The semi-mechanised abattoir facility is of international standard and will correct the present appalling situation of meat delivery. It will ensure that animals are slaughtered and processed under humane and hygienic conditions thus reducing the incidence of meat contamination at processing stage and consequently reduce incidence of meat-borne diseases in the state,” he said.
The permanent secretary said the facility has the capacity to process 200 heads of cattle in four hours.
The importance of the facility was better appreciated by some guests that were invited to grace the inauguration ceremony that attracted various stakeholders.
The elaborate inauguration ceremony has many dignitaries including Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh represented by the Director of the Ministry, Mrs. Funke Omogbemi, leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasonranti, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, members of the State Executive Council and members of the State House of Assembly.
The Akure community and traditional institution was led by the Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi.
The hierarchy of professionals in the veterinary practice, was led by the President Veterinary Council of Nigeria and Provost, Federal College of Animal Production and Health Vom, Jos Prof. Garuba Sharubutu.
Ogbeh in his goodwill message, declared that the newly inaugurated modern and semi-mechanised abattoir built by the Mimiko administration was in line with the vision of the federal government agriculture development.
Ogbeh who enjoined other states to emulate Ondo State, noted that the facility is of the world standard.
“I want to commend the resolve of the government to build an abattoir of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standard and challenge other state governments to consider emulating this great state. This infrastructure will no doubt hold the key in the provision of hygienically processed meat which will enhance good and healthy eating habits, job opportunities for those who will be directly involved as well as other markets which its presence will attract and develop,” he said.
The minister described the project as timely particularly now that the nation is diversifying from a mono economy dependent on oil to other critical sectors like agriculture He said the new abattoir would enable the people of the state to process and eat hygienically processed meat as well as open doors for socio economic development of the state.
The minister who described the abattoir as fantastic development that will enable the livestock chain to add value to their basic products, noted that it signifies a departure from the old filthy abattoir that could possibly breed diseases and infections.
He said the project was not only a beacon of hope to the economy’s revival but also an assurance to constant production of wholesome meat in Akure and its environ.
The Guest Speaker and President Veterinary Council of Nigeria Prof. Sharubutu declared that the facility would remove the state from those states with high incidence of predisposition factors for infections.
Sharubutu said Mimiko has set a standard and benchmark for the succeeding governors in the state and called on other governors in Nigeria to emulate him.
Addressing the gathering, Mimiko said the project, which was said to have been jinxed was executed in the resolve of the administration to curb the menace of supply of unwholesome meat processed in unhygienic environments.
According to the governor, an average of about 350 heads of cattle are slaughtered and processed for human consumption from about 70 unhygienic local slaughter slabs scattered around the state.
The governor, who said the project which cost the state about N528 million added that it was done in such a way that the traditional butchers would be involved in its operation so that they would not be thrown out of jobs.
Giving insight into the facilities in the abattoir and how the project was executed, Mimiko said it was divided into four lots.
The Lot 1 he said involved Construction of Slaughter Hall, Lairage, Office Complex, Public Toilet, Bone Yard, Manure Dump, Incinerator, Underground Water Reservoir, Fence, Gate-House, Generator House and supply/installation of Abattoir Equipment and Laboratory Equipment/Reagents.
“LOT II involved supply of effluent waste disposing truck and meat delivery van with chilling equipment. LOT III: Electricity supply to the abattoir facilities with 500KVA dedicated transformer and a 60KVA soundproof generator while Lot IV involved drilling of boreholes and construction of overhead tanks for water supply.
“This abattoir complex was designed and completed with all necessary ancillary facilities to ensure steady and sustainable provision of wholesome meat to Akure and its environs as a first step. This is to be replicated in other major towns and villages of the state in due course.
“The abattoir facility with capacity to process 200 heads of cattle in four hours will be ceded to a concessionaire under an agreed memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ensure consistent profitability and sustainability,” he said.
The governor said the abattoir was built to ensure that the meat from the facility is fit for consumption by all human beings including Muslims.
Confirming that various stakeholders were carried along in the project in order to protect their interests, the President of the Nigeria Butchers Association, Ondo State branch, Mr. Asimiyu Tella, said the government through the project had liberated them from the traditional and laborious way of doing their jobs.
He therefore commended the government assuring that all members of his association would cooperate to ensure smooth running of the abattoir in various ways.
The Deji of Akure in his message appreciated Mimiko administration for turning the state capital to a standard that one can be proud of through various urban renewal and developmental projects.
Oba Aladelusi said the people would not know the value of what the Mimiko’s administration had done for the state until when he leaves office.