Labour canvasses revival of textile industry for job creation

textileThe Nigeria Labour Congress has canvassed a fresh ban on the importation of textiles, particularly African prints into the country if the federal government is serious on the decision to revive and develop the textile industry in the country.

Besides, the factional Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu who lamented the sorry state of the textiles industry in the country also said that, there was need for President Muhammadu Buhari to fast track the development process of the industrial sector in the country in order to put Nigeria back to the era of growth in the manufacturing sector.

Aremu said in an interview in Kaduna, that, “there has not be sustainable official efforts to reinvent industries in general in Nigeria and there is the need for consistent stable industrial policy”.

He explained that “the process of unbanning the imports of African prints is illegal. President Buhari should reverse it and put textiles back on the prohibition list. It is shameful to import African prints. We have comparative advantage and enough domestic capacity to produce African prints at home. There is a huge domestic market and patronage at home. It is a shame that the Chinese would produce African prints. They do not wear African prints. We should produce the cloth we wear and create millions of direct and indirect jobs at home, instead exporting jobs to China.”

According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari like his predecessors, expressed commitment to revive the textile industry. The only difference Buhari would make is to fulfill the pledge where others tried but revived few mills and left many closed. In fact the first integrity test of the new administration is to translate electoral promise on industrialization into a reality”.

“Before the elections, President Buhari articulated economic plans for the nation that included revival of textile industries. He said he would revive the textile mills and similar industries which once produced thousands of jobs for Nigerians. I strongly believe it is possible with good governance. All the closed factories were built in the first instance by post-independence governments. They were interested then in development, industrialization and job creation.”

“Of course there is hope for revival of these factories as long as there is the political will. Nigeria was once the third industrializing country in Africa after Egypt and South Africa. All that is needed is uninterrupted electricity supply. There cannot be industrialization, without electrification. Long term cheaper funding is another critical success factor. It’s not just one-off token intervention fund but sustainable long term financing of retooling the factories for modernization and for new beginning. President Buhari should implement the National Cotton, Textile and Garment policy recommendation which says all levies and supplementary taxes collected on Textile imports be channeled Textile industries.”

Aremu who is also the Secretary General of the Nigerian Textiles Worker Union noted that all the comatose textiles factories have the potentials of being revived if government show a lot of commitment to the course, while urging President Buhari to urgently intervene to save them from extinction.

“All of them have the potential of coming back. The cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy framework adopted during Jonathan administration, says approximately 1.2 billion meters of cloth is required yearly based on the average of about 6 meters per capita for a population of 170 million Nigerians. If we must meet this huge domestic demand, we need hundreds of companies. If we add garmenting, Nigeria may very well be the largest producer of textiles in Africa”.

The labour chief said: “The first Republic leaders appreciated that textile is raw material driven in this case cotton. They also knew that textile was a source of livelihood for thousands of cotton growers, factory workers, tailors, fashion designers, garment manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and traders along the entire value chain. President Buhari and the state governors must know that the only non-oil sector that can absorb part of estimated 69 million work force is cotton, textile and garment industry”.

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