‘How localisation of textile sector can address unemployment, conserve FX’

Stakeholders in the textile manufacturing in Nigeria said the sector can provide over 100,000 jobs yearly, and conserve billions of dollars staked in importing materials from foreign countries.

The experts, who spoke with The Guardian in Abuja, insisted that without strategic efforts from both states and the federal government to prioritise localisation of the sector and focus on supporting local manufacturers, its potential will remain untapped.

The Nigerian textile industry was previously a key contributor to the nation’s economy, but development has been dwindling, although successive administrations had promised to revive the sector.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a bid to revive the sector, had directed in Executive Order 3 that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) must source their textile needs locally.

However, the government had at the same time engaged a Turkish company, which is reportedly in partnership with Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) in Kaduna State, to henceforth produce military and other paramilitary uniforms. Already, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with the Turkish firm, known as Sur Corporatewear.

With the prevailing situation, industry players have expressed pessimism over the government's commitment to local entrepreneurs, arguing that only local manufacturers are able to provide sustainable multiplier effects that can domesticate the sector and bridge the skill gap.

This is even as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, had the bank intended to deploy as much as N100 billion in loans to revive ailing cotton and textile industry in Nigerian.

Managing Director, Sam, and Sara, Folake Oyemade, noted that the industry potential could go a long way in addressing the nation's economic situation, and prevent capital flight.

She said while her company alone is already providing employment for about 1,000 Nigerians, textile manufacturers in the country have the capacity to deliver on local demand, especially in terms of producing garments and apparel for the military and paramilitary sector.

“I have two garment factories, and we have more than 1,000 workers. I don’t know what the Turkish firm is bringing to Kaduna that we cannot do. The state government even offered them equity. Yet, we had approached them for the same project, and we didn’t ask for any equity. We offered to build a factory and employ their youths, but nothing came out of it,” Oyemade told The Guardian.

She stressed the need for patriotism and sincere interest in local patronage, to ensure that the sector is sustainably repositioned to the economic advantage of Nigeria.

Creative Director of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, Adenike Ogunlesi, said history should have thought that supporting local manufacturers instead of some foreign firm, which is still struggling to put the structure in place, would be far beneficial to the country.

She noted that stakeholders in garment and apparel would not only be glad to contribute to the growth of the country but would make the country proud in terms of manufacturing.

"Government needs to trust and invest in its people, and patronise people who are thriving locally," Ogunlesi said.

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