In a quest to reposition the Nigerian economy and make it self-reliant, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has rallied stakeholders’ support for the textile and garment industry, saying it is capable of creating over two million jobs if fully harnessed.
In addition to the high employment generation capacity, Emefiele also noted that as one of the critical sectors, the industry is capable of transforming the economy by reviving the cotton and garment sector, thereby improving Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) across the three ties of government.
In particular, he noted that if properly harnessed, the Textile industry can “reduce over $4 billion import bills annually, and save our hard earn foreign exchange, while accelerating the industrial development of the country, and making Nigeria a global player in the textile and garment subsector.”
Emefiele stated this yesterday, at a stakeholders’ meeting with top ranking officers of the Nigerian military, paramilitary as well as cotton, textile and garment producers or/farmers in Abuja. He said the event therefore symbolises an overall commitment to attaining self-sufficiency in cotton production, with a view to servicing the textile and garment sector value chain with quality inputs as well as target zero importation by next year.
He explained that the meeting was to review current situation in the sector in the last one and half years, and “to analyse the huge potential that exist in that industry, identify the challenges militating the sector’s contribution to economic growth and development and to find quick wins to revive the sector.”
He further observed that the sector is however faced with some systemic challenges, which have hampered and diminish its role as the leading employer of labour in Nigeria, thereby preventing its contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic product (GDP).
He recalled, “Like you all know, in the 1990s and 1980s, Nigeria was recognised to be Africa’s largest textile industry with over 180 textile mills in operations employing close to over 450,000 people, and contributing over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. Today, most of the factories have all stopped operations, as only 25 textile factories are operational at below 20 per cent of their production capacity, and the workforce of the textile industry stands at less than 20,000 people.”
According to him, government is calling for patronage and support for local manufacturers even as Mr. President in his Executive Order 003, had directed that there must be full compliance to reduce pressure on Nigeria’s foreign reserves through demand for forex for the importation of textiles.
Representatives of the military and paramilitary, who took turn to speak, promised to support the sector, while given assurances to patronise the factories to supply them uniforms.A representative of the Army, Major General Joel Onuigbe, said the Army has been working in line with the Government Order 003, especially in procuring its uniforms locally from Sunflagg Company.
His counterpart from the Nigerian Customs, Assistant Comptroller Abdulahi Baba Ine, canvassed complementary fiscal and monetary policies to reduce the rate of smuggling into the country.