Africa’s Fading Textile Hub
JIBRIL: The Nigerian textile industry that used to be the largest employer of labour has now become completely down because of a number of problems. The industry today is characterized by temporary clothiers, retrenchments, compulsory leaves and so many added devices. We are faced with a number of problems that have brought down the clothiers of many of these factories that used to be a pride of Nigeria and the economic guru of the country in terms of employment.
SUNDAY: In problems facing the economy, a couple of things come to mind, issues of power cuts, high cost of production, cheap import of textiles from other countries, especially China. Is there anything else outside this list?
JIBRIL: The textile industry today is faced with many problems but the major problem and concern is the smuggling of fabrics, which remain uncontrolled. This smuggling is characterised by copying of our designs and trademarks, printed in the Asian countries and brought into Nigerian markets. The total consumption in our markets today, one will say that 90% of the fabrics that are in the markets are foreign smuggled ones. This smuggling is completely uncontrolled and this is being done through the importation of goods through the Lome ports and when these goods come, they are offloaded to Niger Republic and transported through tracks to the northern border of Nigeria. It used to be in the darkness before but today, it is being brought in the broad daylight with hundreds of these textiles being transported to our cities and then sold.
SUNDAY: Has anything been done to curb this smuggle of foreign textiles into Nigerian markets?
JIBRIL: The people who are supposed to control the smuggling are the Nigerian Customs. Recently, they made a very good catch by apprehending a large consignment of these textile fabrics in warehouses in Kano worth 435 billion naira and after being confiscated by customs, we were informed that these goods were given back to their owners after they had paid some taxes. These goods should have been properly confiscated and destroyed so our local goods will be taken to the markets.
SUNDAY: Do we really have enough of Nigerian made textiles in the market? How much are we producing taking into consideration, the challenges that sector is facing?
JIBRIL: In the 80s, we used to have 175 textile industries employing about 300,000 workers but today, the industry has just completely reduced to about 34 textile industries in epileptic states and we are employing comfortably about 24,000 workers. With this problem, giving our production line which has already gone down completely, we are able to produce a very significant number of products, so how can we compete with the ones that are coming into the country? If we can be comfortably supported by the government in a number of areas, I think the textile industry will come back into full swing.