The event facilitated by Friedrich Ebert Stiftund, FES, as part of African Industrialization Day celebration, was first observed on November 20 1990, was attended by among others, key industrial unions in the manufacturing sector, namely the National Union Textile Garments and Tailoring Workers' of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Employees, NUCFRLNMPE, Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association, FOBTOB, Steel & Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria, SEWUN, the Agriculture and Allied Workers Union, AAWUN, and the Federation of Informal Workers' Organizations of Nigeria, FIWON.
Also in at the event were representatives of State Government, National Assemble as well as expert on Policy and Trade issues.
In a keynote address, General Secretary of NUTGTWN, Comrade Issa Aemu, gave a brief history of the African Industrialization Day from inception and said the day was set aside annually to stimulate the International Community commitment to the industrialization of Africa.
According to him, 22 years after, statistics showed that the share of Africa in the global manufacturing fell from 12% in 2000 to 11% while that of developing Asia rose from 13% to 25% in the same period, lamenting that while Africa was talking about industrialization, China was working itself into global economic hierarchy.
He said "since we cannot beat or even compete with China, let Africa emulate China. With 160 million populations (potential industrial consumers indeed) a quarter of Africa population and abundant minerals (being the primary raw materials for industrialization for a wide range of industries) re-industrializing Nigeria means re-industrializing the great continent of Africa. With population and economic endowments, indeed Nigeria should be what China is to Asia."
"In fact as far as raw materials are concerned, we are more endowed than China. For instance, Iron ore and a host of other locally available metallurgical raw materials are globally utilized for the local iron and steel industry. Nigeria is endowed with those mineral resources in abundance.
Nigeria must reindustrialize if it must be part of the 20 leading economies in 2020, this is because Nigeria with an open unemployment rate of 50% must wake up to industrialization to get Nigeria back to sustainable employment, income earnings and poverty eradication."
Blueprint on improvement of manufacturing sector
Speaking, President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Chief Kola Jamodu, in a speech presented on his behalf, said a blueprint had been sent to the government on the improvement of the manufacturing sector in line with the strategic vision 2020:20.
The MAN's President who noted that even at the ECOWAS sub-regional, industrial development was considered as a veritable pillar in a viable economical block, said "it is evident that no developing nation has successfully transformed its economy from developing to industrialized status, without first dramatically increasing the condition of manufacturing sector.
The manufacturing sector when compared to other value creation sector of the economy like the petroleum, if placed along with agriculture, it best positioned to create jobs in a sustainable manner. In Nigeria the importance of industrialization is not lost to government as reflected in the national plan and other economic policies and programmes right from independence."
"Under the current dispensation, MAN recognized the need and has consistently advocated for the transformation of the manufacturing sector into a dynamic and viral sector of the Nigerian economy, in line with the strategic national vision 2020:20.
This commitment informed our articulation of the blueprint for the accelerated development of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria, which has been forwarded to government and other relevant agencies for consideration as useful document to aid policy conception and implementation for the revival of the manufacturing sector.
"As we are all aware, challenges abound on our way to industrialization, we have high cost of fund, inadequate infrastructure, especially power, road and rail networks, smuggling and counterfeiting, shortage of skilled middle level manpower, multiple taxation and even informal levies.
We are however encouraged that the engagement process with the government is yielding some positive results, resulting in the redress of some of the challenges. Even though there are still challenges, we remain committed to continuously networking and engaging all stakeholders, government and non government actors."