Reviving The Nigeria’s Textile Industry: By Fatima Yahaya

The textile industry was one of the fundamental industries that greeted Nigerian independence and provided employment to lots of people in the country. Today the textile industry has become a shadow of itself. The epileptic operations, and in most cases outright shut down, of many textile companies has rendered more than 500, 000 people jobless excluding auxiliary jobs from the industry. A negotiation between theNigerian and the Japanese government as a joint venture marked the beginning and springing up of textile companies in Nigeria. Apart from Kaduna Textile Limited (KTL), other companies that sprang up were Arewa Textiles Limited, NOSPIN Nigerian Limited, United Nigerian Textile Limited, Nortex Nigerian Limited and Finetex Nigerian Limited. Others were Gaskiya Textiles Mill, Kano Textile Limited, Zamfara Textiles Limited, Asaba Textiles Limited, African Textile Mill Plc, Tofa Textiles, among others. Needless to say that about 90% of these textiles companies are already shut down. And the very few functioning ones today are operating far below their operational capacity. The question is: what heightened the shutdown of these textile companies? True, successive governments have a significant share in the blame, since so many other industries in recent years have prevailing industrial crises ranging from poor remuneration, to delay in payments, to downsizing and outright closure all of which are blamed on unfavorable business environment and instability in the nation’s economy. However, it is not entirely accurate if we fault the government alone for the problem that befell the textile industry. Undoubtedly, the managements of some of the textile companies have their own faults. Poor administration was a large factor responsible for the crises in the textile companies. For example, Kaduna Textile Limited was the first to shut down. It was known that misunderstandings ensued among the owners, i.e. the northern state governments That was the beginning of the company’s problem that eventually led to its shut down. Arewa Textiles, Nortex, Finetex and others also had serious internal crises before they shut down. The porous state of Nigerian borders contributed to the problem of the textile industry, as fabrics were consistently smuggled into the country. Even when the government stressed the need to tighten the country’s boarder to block inflock of foreign fabrics, the more the fabrics kept finding their way into Nigerian markets. And this had a detrimental effect on the businesses of the textile companies. Another silent but obvious factor responsible for the demise of the textile industry is the attempt to universalize the western culture. From time immemorial, Nigerian women were crazy about traditional and native dresses, hence, they used the textile products like super prints and veritable wax to make different African styles. That has, however, faded into the past, as there is a sharp contrast between what girls wanted then and what they want now. These days, girls rather wear ‘Jeans’ trousers, T-shirts, foreign tops and skirts. Even the girls that dress in religious and customary attires prefer to use foreign materials to make them than our local fabrics. Whatever the reasons for the shut down of the textile companies are, the effect was a disastrous consequence. A lot of textile workers lost their lives through hypertension and related ailments. Many were driven from their houses because they could not continue paying their rents. For some, their wives left them because of their inability to cater for their needs, while the children of others dropped out from schools. Outstanding amongst the rest was high rate of prostitution among adolescent girls, unwanted pregnancies, forced labor and new HIV infection in communities where textile workers lives. In an attempt to reduce their suffering, some of the textile workers became unsuccessful “Okada” riders, security men, brick layers, bus conductors, among other menial jobs. Some were lucky to be recruited into the Nigerian police, Army and other law enforcement agencies. Some got fairly good jobs, while others have gone back to school to complete their education. Others have become touts, while there are those that are still doing nothing. Regardless of the category or condition the textile workers found themselves, one thing is certain: all of them are still looking forward to the opening of the companies so that they can receive their gratuities. Can this dream come true? Your guess is as good as mine. Although it is known that several endeavors have been made by government to revive the textile industry. It is however, necessary for government and relevant agencies to ensure that this is achieved. The management of the textile companies must support the government effort in every way. Moreover, the companies should improve the quality of their fabrics and should diversify their products to include jeans materials, T-shirts materials, packet shirts and sportswear materials. This will appeal more to the contemporary society who will prefer to wear these trendy materials than super prints or wax which has almost lost their widespread relevance, particularly. Suffix to say, they must think technologically and smart. The government should tighten the borders and prohibit the smuggling of textile materials into the country. Also, government should strengthen textile technology as a course of study in tertiary institutions, so that indigenous professions can emerge rather than bringing foreign partners from Japan, China and Philippine and then pay them juicy salaries. These are the things necessary for the revival and sustenance of the textile industry in the 21st century.

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