BY LAJA THOMAS
AN appeal has gone to the Federal Government to give special attention to the paper and printing industry in Nigeria because as at today, it is a drainage pipe to foreign exchange because of lack of infrastructure in the sector.
This appeal was given by Dr Rotimi Oladele, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Megavons (West Africa) Ltd, during the 25thanniversary of the organisation in Lagos.
Lamenting on the state of the three paper mills in the country, Oladele said, “The challenge facing the industry is lack of raw materials and infrastructure. The three paper mills we have in Jebba, Niger state, Iwopin, Ogun State and Oku-Iboku, Akwa Ibom, have become moribund They are no longer there to provide the needed raw materials for the industry.
The printing industry is 99.9 per cent import-driven. There is nothing you can point out that came from within. This area needs serious government attention. We know that government cannot do it alone. That is the reason I am also appealing to the stakeholders in the industry, the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, the Booksellers Association of Nigeria and the various publishing and printing organistions to come out and form a synergy to bail the industry out of this doldrum.
There should build a synergy of efforts, a sort of consortium where they can pull resources together and save the printing industry from extinction. The printing industry must not die.
Speaking on the activities and achievements of Megavons 25 years after, Oladele said: “Eessentially, the essence of the celebration was to thank our the Almighty God for taking us thus far and appreciate everyone that has contributed, in no small measures, to the survival of the company. Stakeholders, staff and members of the public, especially the five countries, namely Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Liberia, who came together in 1987 to form the organisation.
“This company did not die, like several others who have gone under occasioned by the harsh economic climate. We have not relocated and deprived Nigerians of employment. Nigerians are able to resuscitate this company, maintain it and we hope to sustain it. We therefore want to build on the success achieved so far.”
On how we can improve the sector, Oladele said “by ensuring we have well trained professional in the industry. I don’t think we have up to five universities in Nigeria where printing technology is being study, aside the Yaba College of Technology and the Kaduna Polytechnic. Even these institutions lack the infrastructure to adequately train graduates on this course.
“That is why at Megavons, we engage young graduates as management trainees, whereby we send them to the United States and South Africa to acquire more knowledge. We believe some much in training. The printing industry can actually generate huge employment and self reliance for personnel if well developed. The government should take a critical look at this area very well.”