The Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA) has revealed that over 117,000 jobs in the nation's textile industry have been lost in the past 26 years. According to the association, the textile sector could lose more jobs if the federal government does not intervene urgently to salvage the ailing industry.
NTMA President, Mr. Folorunsho Daniyan, at a press briefing on the state of the textile industry in Nigeria and its lack of competitive edge, noted that the industry used to be the highest employer of labour, apart from the federal government in the 1980s. At its peak, the textile industry had a manpower of 500,000 workers.
He added that its membership had shrunk from 175 firms in 1985 to less than 20 in 2022.
"Employment-wise, the number of jobs provided by the industry took a dive from 137,000 jobs in 1996 to 24,000 jobs in 2008. Today the number of jobs provided in the industry is less than 20,000 jobs," explained Daniyan.
The NTMA president also stated that Nigerian textiles used to be exported to West and Central Africa but suffered a setback between 2003 and 2008.
"Textile exports reached their lowest ebb in 2006. However, it recovered some lost ground in 2007 and 2008. Today, the situation is even worse as our exportability is next to zero," he added.
Highlighting the major factors responsible for the industry's declining export capacity, Daniyan narrowed them down to the loss of preferential market access in the EU and US, inconsistent implementation of Export Expansion Grant policy, particularly a perennial backlog of EEG claims, and the inconsistencies in the implementation of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.
However, the NTMA boss said the promised benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) would elude Nigeria if the illegal imports of textile fabrics and other products Nigeria can produce locally continue to find their way into its markets unchecked.
"We also demand the establishment of a Presidential task force made up of relevant stakeholders, including the textile manufacturers and union, with the power to confiscate goods smuggled into the country and recall that a similar task force existed during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo," explained Daniyan. "However, the NTMA, along with our labour union, wishes to acknowledge some measures by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Bank of Industry (BOI) aimed at the textile industry revival and called for urgent stakeholders meeting that must include the Union to objectively review some of these measures to ascertain the level of success as well as the challenges."
The NTMA boss said the lack of patronage despite Executive Order 003 on the patronage of locally-produced goods also hindered the growth of the textile industry. He called on relevant government agencies to comply with the executive order by patronising locally-made textiles to avert further factory closures and job loss.
"We are also calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure holistic implementation of the Cotton Textile Garment (CTG) policy. The textile industry remains a critical plank for addressing the current high level of unemployment and attendant security challenges in the country," Daniyan said.
He mentioned that a fully revived textile industry would create millions of jobs and address insecurity, improve internally generated revenue, reduce billions of dollars in import bills incurred annually on textile and apparel, and ensure foreign exchange earnings.
"We also urge the state governments to complement the federal government's efforts through complimentary bold industrial policies that will revive closed factories in their localities such as the provision of infrastructure, granting of genuine tax incentives, and patronage of made-in-Nigeria products," he added.
Also speaking, Textile Union President, John Adaji, said the union had lost about 3,000 members in the past 12 months. According to him, as of 2008, it had about 24,000 members, which had shrunk to 13,000 in 2020.
He lamented the sector's inability to compete favourably at the international due to inadequate infrastructure, pointing out that the N100 billion textile fund by the federal government in 2019 to salvage the ailing textile sector was difficult to access.
"We are appealing to the conscience of Mr. President to come to our rescue because we are losing our patience, and our next level of action would be to storm Abuja," Adaji warned.