Posted on September 14, 2017
The first thing to direct our mind to is whether or not the raw materials are locally available. If they are there, then there is a beginning; if they are not, then the nation will only be digging itself into greater trouble. As far as the machinery for it goes, there is nothing we can do about it for now because it has to be brought in from outside. But having brought it in; has the nation been able to replicate the machinery? I say no on two counts. One, the educational system really is in the pit right now and you need the link between our tertiary institutions and the textile industry like it obtains in other climes.
Finally, there is the issue of funding, which none of us can run away from. The situation where we are still dealing with an MPR (Monetary Policy Rate) of 14.18 per cent for everything just can’t work. If we look at it as honestly as we can, I think we have been placed where the West wanted us to be. The argument now is, is it cheaper to borrow outside than to borrow in the country? In Europe today, the interest rate is in single digits. From a face value, it looks promising, but it is detrimental in the sense that what you may be getting now from there, given that as far as our economy is concerned, it has not developed its own internal dynamics. The propping up of your currency is artificial and what you can be sure of is that the payback of such loans will keep such investments perpetually in debt.
It is even happening right now within our clime where you have companies from without supporting their companies within by sending them the equipment they require. You declare so much in naira but at the end of the day, you look at your books and discover that you are in the red. We do have the capacity to produce cotton, but we have a problem. The Americans tell you ‘government has no business in business’ and that production (and) agriculture should not be subsidise at the same time, but they subsidise their farmers. For example, if you look at the extension services, they are essentially run by government in the US.
We also need automation to be able to compete. To do this, you need power. Companies re-tooled to gas when it sold for two dollars per cubic foot. Now, what we are faced to fight is that government is saying that the market should determine what the price is, which to me does not make sense. The issue of power should also be addressed. •Dr Alofoje Onuigboje (Chairman, Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, Edo/Delta branch)
I think the government should go ahead with the implementation of control and garment policy as adopted by the Federal Government since 2014. The major highlight in that policy is that we must ensure that there is uninterrupted electricity supply to textile industry, as well as other manufacturing industry. The government should also combat smuggling of imported contrabands, including textiles. Customs have to be on duty to fight smuggling of imported banned textile goods.
There should also be patronage of made in Nigerian textile goods. This is why it is highly commendable that the Federal Government has issued executive orders, not only for textiles but also for locally manufactured goods, that all the ministries, department and agencies should patronise locally manufactured goods. Textile industries will benefit from this .
There should also be sustainable industrial policy in place for the country. All the things that led to the death of our industries can be traced to inconsistent industrial policy. There should be a sustainable industrial policy emphasising the need to add value to cotton rather than importing finished goods or textiles from abroad. That now brings us to another critical point: as much as possible, we must make the input available, in this case raw material. It is an irony that Nigeria today is facing the problem of cotton. There should be abundant production of cotton locally. We have to give incentives to local farmers or cotton growers to see the need to produce raw materials, as well as food crops.•Issa Aremu (General Secretary, National Union of Textile and Garment Workers of Nigeria)
The textile industry has been in a state of neglect for a while and there are a lot of things that government can do to revive it.
One, government can grant tax holidays to manufacturers operating in the sector to reduce their tax burden. This will enable them have access to funds to improve their productive capacity. Government can also make foreign exchange available to enable operators import the necessary machinery needed to set up textile plants.
Government should also ensure that adequate power supply is provided to areas where you have textile plants. •Mr. Godwin Eohoi (Registrar, Chartered Institute of Finance and Control of Nigeria)
Textile industry used to employ over 300,000 workers when all the textile mills in the country were functioning, but the nation got it wrong by opening the market to cheap textile materials from some foreign countries. This killed the local industry.
I believe the government can generate more jobs by reviving the ailing textile industry and there are some factors they have to consider before these textile mills can become operational again.
There must be legislation to support the industry; there should be a deliberate government policy to ban importation of cheap textile materials into the country. The borders should also be effectively manned to prevent smugglers and Customs officials from conniving to ruin the industry by allowing smuggled materials into the market. The ban on importation of foreign materials will protect the indigenous companies and I believe they will strive to be better and produce textile of international standard.
The legislation should also promote wearing of locally-made clothes. I think the government should start by announcing that workers, especially those in the civil service, wear locally-made textiles at least three days in a week. This will boost local production.
Government should also provide intervention funds to revive the industry and also make soft loan available to assist those engaged in one aspect of production or the other. •Mr. Jide Bewaji (Chairman, Atlantis Group)
Prior to the conscious intervention of the Federal Government of 2010 in the Nigerian textile industry, it had been a worse and steady decline in production and patronage of investors in the sector.
No doubt that the N100bn fund went some mileages at rejuvenating the hitherto ailing sector. Though significant growth has been recorded, more needs to be done to help the industry gain strong footholds.
Across the country, states do establish ministries of Culture and Tourism. Existence of these bureaucratic entities can find means of adopting local fabrics as cultural identity for various annual festivals being celebrated in such major events as Ojude Oba in Ijebuland, Eyo festival in Lagos, Argungu fishing festival in Kebbi State, New Yam festival in Igboland and so on.
Close to this is a deliberate support and staging of sewing and weaving fairs across major cities in the country.
This certainly will rekindle the innate cultural identity of our people. Agriculturally, government could help identify the farmers engaged in cotton production and offer technical support to boost local production. •Adebiyi Olusegun (Ogun State Secretary, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, & Secretary, Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council)
The problem of textile industry has to do with the cost of production. Ordinarily, the cost of producing textile in Nigeria shouldn’t be an issue, given the fact that we produce cotton, but given the cost of manufacturing in this country, it is a big issue. The next challenge is the issue of patriotism, we need to be patriotic enough to patronise our local fabrics and other textile materials.
We need our leaders to lead by example in this area. Our leaders in this country are very quick to use foreign made goods such as clothes and cars. Such leaders will find it difficult to support the growth of made in Nigerian goods.
Merely giving bailout funds to the textile industry without addressing the main reasons the industry is failing is like pouring money into a sinkhole. There has to be a two-pronged approach where government comes up with policies that will support the textile industry such as improving the power situation and ensuring that interest rates are more investor friendly. •Dr Chika Onuegbu, (A former Rivers State chairman, Trade Union Congress)