…Demand Ministry of Textile industry, list other measures to rejuvenate sector
By Victor Ahiuma- Young
LEADERS of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers Union of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, have remained undaunted in their struggle to see that the good old days when textile sector employed no fewer than 650,000 direct workforce and indirect millions of workers, returns.
Few days ago,leaders of the union as part of the sector rejuvenation’s drive, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, at Villa to personally brief him on the state of the sector and steps needed to return it boom as a leading job generating sector in the country.
Speaking on behalf of members, General Secretary of the Union, Issa Aremu, recalled that “in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Nigeria was the home to Africa’s largest textile industry. Nigeria had over 180 textile mills in operations. The industry employed some direct 650,000 workforce and indirect millions of cotton farmers, traders and garment workers and tailors throughout the country. The sector indeed employed more workforce than the Federal government.
The industry also contributed over 25% of the workforce in the manufacturing sector and as much to national GDP. All the defunct regions and the newly created states relied majorly on textile mills as major source of internally generated revenues. Same with utilities like old NEPA and water corporations in all the states textile mills are located.”
Closure of factories
He lamented that “most of the factories have stopped operations. Less than 25 textile factories are operating today at below 20 percent of their production capacities. The workforce in Nigeria’s textile industry stands at less than 40,000 workers.”
While commending the President for being “the first President that has commendably raised the prospects of reviving the industry to create employment for farmers, weavers and spinners”, Aremu declared: “Since your assumption of office, there have been a number new measures aimed at the revival of textile industry.
First we commend your Excellency for putting in place for the first time a comprehensive Cotton, Textile and Garment, CTG, policy which aims at reviving the entire value chains of cotton growing, Ginneries, spinning and weaving, printing and garments production.
“The Nigerian CTG sector has the capacity to transform Nigeria’s rural economy and revive the textile and garment industries by creating over 2 million jobs, improve internal revenue across three tiers of government, reduce $4billion import bill incurred annually on textile and apparel, safeguard and earn foreign exchange.”
Ministry of textile industry
According to the NUTGTWN Scribe, “We hereby suggest that for Nigeria to realize to the fullest the textile potential for nation building your administration should establish Ministry of Textile as it has been done in India, China and Pakistan. The textile sector in Pakistan has an overwhelming impact on the economy, contributing 57% to the country’s exports. In Bangladesh 4 millions are employed in in as many as 5000 garment factories. The objective of the proposed Ministry would be regular upgrading of the textile value chains, improve on labour productivity, maximize value-addition and formulate strategies and programme to enable the textile sector to meet the challenges to attain global competitiveness.
“We commend your administration for initiating the Executive Order 003 on Support of Local Content in Procurement. In the past few weeks the CBN under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele has taken a number of bold and commendable efforts to encourage patronage of local fabrics towards driving the economic policies of your Excellency.
“Following series of engagement, CBN had initiated the signing of an unprecedented MOU between the Service Chiefs, Chief Executives of Uniformed Services, and textile/ garment manufacturers on enforcement of Executive Order 003 on Support of Local Content in Procurement by MDAs. With this MOU, uniforms for navy, police, army, NYSC, theatre wears in hospitals and medical facilities are to be sourced locally from the Nigerian CTG sector in pursuance of the current administration’s drive towards economic diversification and creating jobs for our teeming population. No administration has shown such bold commitment to local patronage.”
Buy made-in Nigeria campaign
Continuing, Aremu noted that “South Africa’s clothing and textile sector was until recently depressed due to lack of local patronage and dumping of imports. But today because of conscious efforts on the part of the government through “Buy SA campaign”, the textile sector has been revived with many workers employed. We urge your Excellency to use your good office to also encourage state governors to also use state budgets to patronize local fabrics, revive local industries, create mass jobs and get youths gainfully employed and out of criminality and insurgency indoctrination.
Aremu contended that the “fiscal authorities must try and compliment the commendable efforts of the CBN monetary and development financing measures. The major problems are Smuggling and counterfeiting of textile products. The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has recorded some achievements in combating smuggling. But more should be done. NCS should come out with the new creative measures that must include consistent raids of the warehouses of smugglers in Kano, Lagos, Kaduna and other cities of the Federation. CBN, has commendably blocked the accounts of some smugglers sabotaging Nigeria’s economy in the textile, rice and palm oil industry. The NCS should complement CBN’s efforts through more vigilance and raids of smuggled goods stores.
“We suggest that, a presidential task-force be set up. It consist of Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment , MITI, Budget Office of the Federation, BOF, NCS, Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON, Textile Workers Union and Manufactures Association of Nigeria, MAN. It should have the power to confiscate goods smuggled into the country and burn them.”