By Victor Ahiuma-Young
TEXTILE, Garment and TailorÂ ing Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (TGTSSAN), has decried the failure and inabilityÂ of the Federal Government to effect the three release of the much talked about N70 billion Textile industrial revival fundÂ years after the federal government promised the fund, saying it shows unwillingness of government to revive the industry.
President of TGTSSAN, Comrade Yakubu Jerekeri, also warned of the dangers of recent government Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Nigerian Government and that of the Republic of Benin in Cotonou.
Addressing journalists, Comrade Jerekeri said â€œSince 2006, the Government has been working on what Obasanjoâ€™s Government called â€œTextile Revival Projectâ€, but up till today, in spite of the various Governmentâ€™s and ministerial pronouncements, there is no Kobo that has been sourced in the so-called N70billion, of Obasanjoâ€™s Government and similarly, the N70billion, of Yar Aduaâ€™s Government put together.
It is unfortunate that the two Governments had spent almost five years to source in vain N70billion revival fund for the Textile Industry. Unknown to these leaders, is the fact that they are writing and publishing their own reports and activities in the public domain. The question then is who are these leaders and their functionaries deceiving?â€
He accused government ofÂ conflicting policy formulations andÂ implementation and noted that the MOU signed with Republic of Benin could be theÂ the final nail needed to kill and destroy the prospect of any revival of the manufacturing sector, but also for locally produced textiles in Nigeria
According to him: â€œIt is unfortunate that the Government went out of its way to sign an M.O.U. with Republic of Benin in Cotonou to export textile to Nigeria when our leaders are aware Nigeria is facing large unsold inventory of Textile goods due to flooding of our markets with Asian Textile products, and more also that Benin Republic has no textile production capacity that is up to 7 per cent of Nigerianâ€™s production.â€
Lamenting that most industries are relocating out of Nigeria as a result of the high price of Black oil (LPFO), an important production petroleum product for the industry, Comrade Jekeri, said â€œGovernment onÂ May 14, 2009 jerked up LPFO price from N25.40 to N48.00 per litre.
Again on June 4, 2009 it further raised the price from N48.00 to N57.00 per litre and so, within one month, the price of LPFO was raised from N25.40 to N57.00.
While theÂ cost of LPFO continues to soar and has to a large extent, contributed in increasing the cost of local textile products and making imported brands cheaper in price than local equivalents, the local companies are making huge losses and sacking their workers in the process and some relocating to neigbouring countries.
Our leaders are aware that without LPFO, factories cannot operate, yet the price is being increased on routine basis, and there is no solution from Government. One would wonder that ifÂ politiciansâ€™ promise of providing jobs will be met when nothing is done to protect even the existing organisations.â€
Corroborating the President,Â TGTSSANâ€™s General Secretary, Comrade Pius Isagua, accused the Federal Government of using political hawks to destroy the textile industry in the name of reviving it and posited that there is no way political solutions could revive the industry
He said â€œThe Federal Government has refused to recognise the fact that the organised labour, as a major stakeholder in the sector can play a big role in the revival of the industry.Â Instead, the government left the revival project with politicians to apply political solutions. It is unfortunate that while the influx of banned textile materials into the countryÂ have made the Nigerian made textiles very uncompetitive in the market, billions of Naira is wasted by politicians that do not have the expertise to turn around the sector.
The festering problems of textile industry revival in the country in the past nine years of the nationâ€™s democratic governance, with huge amount earmark for the sectorâ€™s revival by the erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo for eight years and now President Musa Yarâ€™Adua with nothing to show for it, is an attestation that the government has lost hope.â€