Aremu urges government to revive textile industry
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Chieftain and General Secretary of the National Union of Textiles and Garment Workers of Nigeria (NUTGWN), Comrade Issa Aremu, has called on the Federal Government to take urgent measures to revive the country’s textile industry.
He equally faulted a situation where Nigeria continues to spend about $4 billion annually on imported foreign fabrics, saying that if Government fulfilled its promise to revive the textile industry and provide mass employment for Nigerians; this will address some of the economic and social problems facing the country.
Aremu recalled that “textiles used to be Nigeria’s foremost industry, being the second largest employer after government and utilizing indigenous raw materials such as cotton,” pointing out that the prevailing unprecedented harsh environment has dealt a serious blow to the already fragile industry.
According to him, “if urgent steps are not taken by the government to address key issues raised by the industry stakeholders, the ray of hope that had arisen from the Buhari government initiatives may get extinguished.”
Aremu, who is also the Secretary General of the Alumni Association of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (AANI), noted that Nigeria has the potential to produce fabrics for the local market and even export to the ECOWAS market of over 175 million people.
Such fabrics and readymade clothing can also be exported to the developed world like the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) scheme, which Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar and a number of African countries are already exploiting.
He also decried the influx of smuggled goods in major textile markets in Kantin Kwari, Kano, Balogun and Oshodi, Lagos, stressing that “it undermines the local industry, steal our jobs, deprives government of revenue and drains the country’s foreign exchange reserves.”
Aremu also urged the government to emulate other developing countries that are investing heavily in their textile industry due to its high employment potential.
“Ethiopia has among the most competitive power tariff at four U.S. Cents/Kwh, which is a fifth of the power cost in Nigeria. Recently, India, which is the second largest textile producer in the world after China, announced a $1 billion incentive package for the textile and apparel industry to create 10 million jobs in three years.”
He further listed some urgent measures that must be taken to revive the textile industry in Nigeria to include:
•Checking the influx of smuggled goods and action against counterfeit textiles which fake the Nigerian trade marks in an effective manner;
.Improve power supply for industrial use;
•Recapitalisation of Bank of Industry (BOI) and reduction of interest rate to the industry;
•Re-scheduling of the CTG loan facility by the Bank of Industry to 10 + 2 years;
•Reduction in the price of gas. The price of gas supplied to the local industry is pegged to the American dollar and was not reviewed after the drop in global oil and gas prices. The current domestic tariff at $7.38 per MMSCF is three times the price of gas in international market. There is a need to review the tariff on gas supplied to the industry in Naira which should be affordable.
•Scarcity of black oil has crippled the operations of the textile mills in the north. There is a need to ensure availability of the fuel oil to the textile mills by way of direct allocation from Kaduna and other refineries;
•Consistent supply of certified seeds is required to ensure adequate supply of cotton to local textile industry;
•Under the dual exchange rate policy being currently pursued, CBN should allocate forex at official rate for meeting the need for import of essential raw materials by the textile mills, and;
•Local patronage: Government should persuade its MDA’s to source all their uniforms from the local textile mills. The scheme for supply of free meals to school children should be extended to free uniforms to be procured by the government from local textile mills.