Thursday, 14 April 2016

THE NEED TO REPOSITION THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY WITH MODERN TECHNOLOGY

The need to kick-start the textile sub-sector of manufacturing in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized in the face of the nation’s economic challenges. The necessity to diversify a mono-product economy and combat smuggling as well as indiscriminate dumping of foreign textiles and garments in the Nigerian market is indeed compelling.

Addressing members of the National Union of Textile Garment Workers of Nigeria (NUTGWN) in Kano at its Quadrennial Delegates Conference with ‘Back to the basics’ as its theme the other day, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, said the Federal Government was committed to combating smuggling and dumping of textiles and garments in the market. The government is also committed to developing infrastructure and enhancing doing business in the country. The Vice-President recalled that “since independence, successive governments adopted different industrial policies, such as the substitution of the industrialisation policy of 1960, as well as the Nigerian industrialisation policy of 1972, Structural Adjustment Programme of 1986, Trade Liberalisation Policy of 1989 and many others.” However, the impacts of these policies have been discouraging, wobbling and epileptic.
                        
Therefore, the Nigerian cotton, textile garment and tailoring industry is in dire need of urgent and necessary repositioning and transformation, and driven by modern technology. There are textile plants in Abeokuta, Ibadan, Lagos, Enugu, Aba, Onitsha, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto to mention but a few. But individual, corporate and government efforts in this direction are marred by lack of necessary manpower, infrastructure, energy and finance.

Close studies of the existing textile garment and tailoring companies show that they are all still operating below capacity. In providing stable power and access to finance through the Bank of Industry, a new policy must emphasize as much as possible the production of quality seed for cotton farmers through credit bonus and incentive.

This is also the point at which the preservation of the Nigeria ecosystem and natural habitats will constitute a vital assignment for the ministry of agriculture for the purpose of rejuvenation of raw materials for textile products.

“Textile designs as an industrial sector that include weaving, spinning and fashion technologies should not only be promoted by the governments, but should also be private sector-driven, in order to promote small and medium scale entrepreneurship. Government should enhance prioritisation of skills development and internationalisation of the sector while solving the problems of inadequate infrastructure and financing, informality, distortion, standardisation challenges, lack of access to international markets, smuggling and the dumping of used cloths and many more” as identified by Professor Osibanjo.

Nigerian cultural and synthetic yarns or objects such as Abada, Adire, Aso-Oke can be made into international standards. Hence, it is possible to foster a textile regime where fabric structures could combine thin metallic alloys with natural and synthetic ones like indigenous cotton, polyester or silk, making it strong enough to be transformed or woven on any industrial loom.

Again government’s policies on the textile sector should include formalizing such in schools and systems of thought with a view to repositioning the industry on the international market. It is, therefore, heartwarming that President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to industrialising the sector and creating an enabling environment through well thought out policies.

Commitment to the sector’s sustainable growth should be total on part of the workers mutually reciprocal between the workers and government. To harness the latent, goldmine of textile industry in the cultural and aesthetic diversity of Nigeria, government should be committed to the establishment of textile departments and subjects or courses in secondary and tertiary institutions and fund textile garment and tailoring research.

The secondary and tertiary education curriculum should not be left out in adjusting to the necessities for the growth of modern science and technology. Textile student’s orientation in logical and critical thinking, knowledge of computer and ICT will help to promote and sustain the desired skill, knowledge and exposure necessary to grapple with modern aesthetics and technologies of the textile industry in Nigeria.

As a follow up, it behooves the government to streamline her establishment of National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC), National Research and Innovation Fund (NRIF), Science and Technology Development Bank (STDB) and Bank of Industry (BOI) for the common end of stimulating the textile sector and the industrial sector in general. (Guardian)