•As Textile workers, tailors mark Eko @ 50 fashion day
By Victor Ahiuma-Young
As part of their contribution to Lagos 50th anniversary celebration, Nigeria Union of Tailors, NUT, and National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, few days ago, organised “Eko @ 50 Fashion Day”.
It featured among others, fashion parade by various self employed tailors from all nooks and crannies of the state, and equally afforded leaders of NUT and NUTGTWN to intimate the government of the need to revive the textile sector and set up tailoring hubs among others.
Welcoming participants, President of NUT, Otunba Wasiu Taiwo, while appreciating Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the support extended to members, called for more support in terms of training and retraining of members.
According to him: “The Tailoring Industry has gone far beyond what is done in Nigeria to where we need sophisticated equipment to train our tailors. When I was in Las Vegas, USA three years ago for International exhibition, we were just there as spectators. We were no match in any form because we don’t have what it takes to showcase our professionalism in tailoring. We don’t have any tailoring in Nigeria that is mass producing and there is nothing we can do to match up with international standards when we are not producing in large quantity. Your Excellency, you have given us the fund. We don’t want to use the fund for buying and selling purposes. All we are asking for is to give us skills.
“The most unfortunate thing is that when I was in Las Vegas for the international exhibition, I met with USAID (United State Agency for International Development) officials and invited them to Nigeria. They came, visited five different tailoring workshops in Nigeria. After their inspection, they came to the conclusion that of all the workshops visited, I am the only one that was ready to set up for production hub. The agency (USAID) invited me to three African countries namely, South Africa, Ghana and Benin Republic. In South Africa, they have three production hubs, each has a capacity of about 5000 to 6000 workers. In Ghana, they have two production hubs, one is about 2500 capacity and they are building more. Cotonu that is our closer neighbour here is about to open her own. We have not started yet in Nigeria. If we have the population of 200 million people with brilliant young men and women waiting to showcase their God giving talents and skills, through a little push, definitely, they will be leaders in the world.”
Continuing, the NUT president noted that “most of the sophisticated equipment to start the production hub are already being put together in China and Italy to set up production hub in Nigeria. I know by the grace of God when it is time for commissioning, we will have about two or three in Lagos alone because we have the population and equally have the market here. Human capacity development is the key to any meaningful development irrespective of where you are in the world.
The Chinese of this world didn’t have much mineral resources as we have in Nigeria, but they developed their human capacity. Today, they export their skills to other nations of the world and they are taking dollars back to their country.
“I want to assure you that we are fully prepared to pilot and partner with all state governments in Nigeria if possible because we are targeting the six geo-political zones starting from Lagos. I know it is very possible.
There are about 12 departments in Tailoring Industry today with the modern professional machine for the industry. You don’t need to start and finish the sewing all alone. Each department has capacity to generate hundreds of thousands of professional tailors which I believe at the end of the day with our population, we can then start exporting expertise abroad.
In America today, garment industries are folding up. They are all going to China to produce. Likewise in Europe, they are closing factories because of lack of skilled Labour. This is an opportunity for Nigerians. We will use our population to make sure we fill that gap because America has given us the opportunity on AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) and for 12 years, nobody is leveraging on it in Nigeria. The tailoring and fashion designing sector in Nigeria is prepared now, piloting and partnering with government at all levels, I believe it is very possible.”
Reviva lof industries
Speaking, President of NUTGTWN, Mr.John Adaji, commended the Lagos State government for supporting self employed workers in the state, particularly the administration’s loan scheme to artisans and others, declaring that “we bear witness that several of our self employed tailor members have benefited from this initiative.”
According to him: This event is our own contribution to the Eko @ 50 celebrations and an acknowledgement of the Governor Akinwummi Ambode administration’s giant strides in developing the state.
We therefore use this occasion to urge our amiable governor to focus attention on industrial revival and more support for the informal sector to consolidate the economic vibrancy of the state and enhance its status as a mega city.
Corroborating, General Secretary of the Union and Vice President, IndustriALL Global Union, Mr. Issa Aremu, lamented that when industrial activities were robust in Nigeria, Lagos was the largest home of textile industries in Nigeria, and in fact, in Africa.
Aremu said: “We pray that by the time we celebrate Lagos at 60, at 70, etc all these textile industries would come back. I pray that as we are marking Lagos at 50, we will mark Lagos at 70, 80, 100, etc. I want to urge all other states of the federation to learn from Lagos State. As far as we are concerned, Lagos is working and Nigeria is working.
This is the home of unity and progress, just like the motto of National Union of Tailors. Instead of other states were their youths are misguided, calling other Nigerians to leave, they should learn from Lagos State where everybody is working together and corporating. You can see that where there is corporation and peace, there will be development.
“We will like to call on Federal Government of Nigeria and Lagos State in particular to make sure that they empower our tailors. They should give their support in terms of financial supports, loans so that they can expand their businesses.
We are also calling on government to set up an Institute known as National Institute for Tailors, so that tailors can be trained to have the skills to do their job very well and they can have their diplomas , and other certificates.”
He however called on residents of Lagos to join hand and the insecurity of lives and properties especially kidnapping, saying “we also pray that the insecurity will soon be something of the past. May there no be Badoo and kidnapping again so that we can do our jobs in a very peaceful way.”