By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Few days ago, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, rounded up activities marking its 40 years anniversary as a union.
The event which took place in Lagos, and was also used to hold the union’s 30th Annual Education Conference, attracted stakeholders within and outside Nigeria especially South Africa.
The twin-theme for the anniversary and education conference was; “NUTGTWN@ 40: Repositioning Labour and Industry for the next 40 years.”
Among others, the historic event, afforded leaders and members of the union to look at the past, the present and the future of textile sector, following continuous closures of textile mills in the country after the boom of the 80s with over 175 textile mills (big and small), employing between 200,000 to 250, 000 direct workers laying off workers.
Speakers at the programme were unanimous that revival of the nation’s manufacturing sector in general and textile industry in particular depends on the federal government’s willingness to enforce the Executive Order on buy-made-in-Nigeria goods.
In his welcome address, president of NUTGTWN, John Adaji, who recalled the beginning of textile industry in Nigeria in 1957, the boom between late 70s and early 80s, and the near to total collapse of the industry today, declared that well meaning Nigerians had a historic duty to remind government (federal and states) that government had an important role to play in the industrial process of any nation.
He said: “Our position is that it is possible to revive closed textile factories and promote new ones. The ideas have been formulated in the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and the Cotton, Textile& Garment Policy (CTG). What is left is for the government to develop the political will to implement these programmes of action. “We call for the immediate implementation of the FG Executive Order in respect of procurement of made in Nigerian goods. Uniforms for all uniform agencies must be procured locally. The same applies to schools, markets, hotels etc.
A country with a population of nearly 200 million cannot complain of market problem. ”The challenge is the unrestrained smuggling and importation of cheap and sub-standard goods. As we speak, these cheap and sub-standard textiles control about 90 percent of the market.