Involve academia in textile industry’s revival efforts, says don
AS part of efforts to revive the moribund textile industry, a member of the academia has urged the Federal Government to involve stakeholders in the academia on measures to effectively address manpower challenges in the industry.
A university lecturer at the Department of Textile Science and Technology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Abdullahi Danladi, while speaking against the backdrop of efforts by the Kaduna State government to revive the textile industry, commended Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s efforts so far, stating that the academia remains an essential element that could make significant contributions to the initiatives.
According to him, the academia is the sector that produces the technical manpower for the industry, adding that its products are the brains responsible for the functioning of the textile-manufacturing sector and as such, any effort targeted at revamping the industry must involve the trainers.
He argued that the industry needs the academia to empower workers on the required skills needed to drive the technology in meeting the demands of the 21st century, adding that any repositioning that would meet current demands must not leave out the university producers of manpower.
“They need to consult the academia where we produce the manpower for the textile industry. The role of the academia is crucial. So any attempt to refurbish the textile industry without the contribution of the academia is not likely to achieve the desired result,” Danladi said.
Speaking further, he said unknown to many people, the Department of Textile Science and Technology has links to several other sectors of the economy such as agriculture and the petrochemical sector.
“There is interface (with agriculture and petrochemical) because we are highly related. In ABU, we have School of Agriculture, there is Fibre Technology, there is Institute of Agriculture Research with which we conduct joint research when our students carry out their academic studies. We go there and do research on cotton production, cotton properties. There is the petrochemical industry also. Right now we have our graduates that are working in the petro chemical industry.
“There is the production of polymer, there is production of fibre, or polyester fibres, nylon fibres (in the petrochemical sector). They need somebody with textile background to guide them in polymer, and some of our students work there. Right now, some of the research papers written are after some of our students have been to these industries. They don’t only go to textile industry, they also go to petrochemicals, oil mills where they interact to have the proper knowledge so that by the time they come back we now integrate all the knowledge that has been learnt”, he added.
“This is one unfortunate situation. If the textile industry that is making money dies, you can understand what a research department will be like. But if the economy is buoyant and the production is there, then the policy of the government to integrate the research institutions like my department and others like it would bring to light the contribution of a research centre like this department. Such integration would be useful to the economy because if there is a problem they can pass it on to the research institutions for study. We have the expertise. Our people can go to the field, carry out the research, collaborate and use our knowledge to proffer solutions to whatever challenges confront the textile industry”, he stressed.
He lamented that the unenviable state of the industry had placed a question mark on the viability of a department that dealt with textile because parents and potential students are worried about job prospect.
“When people come in here, they discover that it is not just in the textile industry that our graduates can work, but that the nature of our course is so dynamic that you can fit into many other places.
“For example there is laundry. It is not just enough to produce cloth, you have to maintain it. To do so, you need some guides in how to maintain and these are part of what we teach our students here. So we have graduates that have set up laundry companies and they are doing well”, he said.
While commenting on the relevance of the textile industry to the Nigerian economy in general, Danladi who was the Head of Department of Textile Science and Technology, and had worked in the textile industry in time past, said the contribution of the industry is crucial now more than ever, especially with the dwindling revenue from the oil sector that the nation had always depended on in the past.
“The importance of textile industry to the national economy cannot be overemphasized, because it is a day to day affair. You can never see somebody without clothes on. If you go to any function you see people dressed up. That shows it is a consumable that people use. So everyone needs it and this shows to you how important it is. Most people also have more than one pair of clothes. So if there is anything that affects the life of more than 170 million people and which they use daily, then you can understand the impact the textile industry can have on the economy if it is properly handled”, he added.
He was of the opinion that part of the problem confronting the Nigerian economy would not be there if the textile industry had been effectively handled.