…As Lawan warns Nigeria to be prepared for ACTFA repercussions
By Henry Umoru
CONCERNED that the textile industry in Nigeria has witnessed massive decline in the last two decades, with many companies closed down, the Senate yesterday asked the Federal Government to ban importation of foreign textiles in the country for a period of five years to rejuvenate production of local textile materials.
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The Senate has also urged the Federal Government to encourage local textile manufacturing companies by providing them with soft loans and easy access to credit facilities through the Bank of Industry.
As a matter of urgency, the government was mandated to provide necessary infrastructural facilities especially power supply to local textile manufacturing companies.
Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has warned Nigeria to be prepared for the repercussions of signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, ACTFA.
According to Lawan, for the country to overcome the challenges posed by the ACTFA, local producers must live up to the billing of the forces of a competitive market.
Lawan said that until Nigeria addresses the issue of unsteady power supply and smuggling, there’s little that can be achieved through the closure of its borders to goods coming in from neighbouring African countries.
The resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion titled, “Urgent need to revamp the nation’s comatose textile industry”, sponsored by Senator Kabir Barkiya, APC, Katsina Central.
Speaking further, the President of the Senate said: “We have signed into the ACTFA. We cannot easily stop trading with other people, so we need to be competitive.
“The problem of textile industry in Nigeria is not the market; the market is huge. The problem is largely the issue of power, because you need power to be competitive.
“Secondly, we have to stop smuggling. These two are twin evils that we must address really. But we have to be in a hurry, because by signing the trade agreement, we have consciously gone into an agreement where other countries will produce their goods in their country and bring them to Nigeria.
“We really need to push for the fixing of power sector in this country. I agree we should close the borders, but that is going to bring only temporary relief for us. It is not going to be permanent while solving our problems.
“The executive and legislature must brainstorm on ways to fix these issues faster because time is of the essence here.
“Even if we stop the importation of textile produced outside for five years, what happens after that? If our companies in the country can’t produce competitively, then there would still be problem.
“We need serious conversation about this to solve the problem as a way forward.”
Earlier in his presentation, Senator Barkiya noted that the textile industry in the country played a significant role in the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy with a record of over 140 companies in the 1960s and 1970s.
According to him, the textile industry recorded an annual growth of 67% and that as at 1991, employed about 25% of the workforce in the manufacturing sector adding that the industry was the highest employer of labour apart from the civil service.
The Senate expressed concern that the textile industry has witnessed massive decline in the last two decades with many textile companies such as Kaduna Textile, Kano Textile, Aba Textile, United Nigeria Textile, First Spinners amongst others closing shops and throwing millions of workers into the job market.
The legislature was worried that the discovery of oil in Nigeria has also greatly affected the textile industry in Nigeria as a result of decline in the production of cotton which was a major source of raw material for the textile industry
The Senate was disturbed that government policies like increase in taxation, high cost of production, trade liberalization resulting in massive importation of textile materials has negatively affected the production of local textile materials.
The upper chamber agreed that revamping the nation’s textile industry will provide huge employment opportunities for the youths and consequently reduce some of the social vices in the country.
It concluded that if the industry is resuscitated , it will provide additional revenue and assist the government in its desire to diversify the economy.