During a brief meeting with Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, the African Development Bank (AFDB) president, Akinwunmi Adeshina said the bank is interested in partnering with the state and the North-West region.
During the 14 years of the calamity that rocked the Nigerian textile industry, major garment factories ran out of business and almost 3 million jobs lost in the process. Even with the 100 billion naira federal government intervention fund, the North’s economy which included the profit from the textile sector still feels the effects.
Before the collapse of the industry, cotton production was the main focus of textile manufacturers, as cotton is the life of the textile industry. In the past, the federal government supported the industry through the ban on imported textile products but the boom in the oil sector caused a neglect for other important resources within Nigeria’s boundaries, the government relaxed on the law and unbanned importation, which favoured the big players that had easy access to funds, and started importing from China, Indonesia and other Asian countries.
Often times, the Nigerian government effects policies to actually solve the problems afflicting a certain sector, however, these policies look good on paper but how far they go is what we cannot ascertain, just like the policies on education, agriculture, child right law and others.
Also, government policy on National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) now called the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) didn’t permit factories to invest in solar energy. However, if the use of solar was allowed to generate power the production of cotton, employment, and market control could have been guaranteed to a certain level.
In an interview with Daily Times, Pa David Odedokun, a retired textile technologist cites power generation as a major resource to revive the textile industry. He believes the textile industry is a massive labor intensive organization that will address the issue of unemployment, youth restiveness, drugs, and crime. He said if new textile industries are built more jobs will be created as the textile mill embodies three complete factories: the spinning, weaving and finishing departments.
For instance, Funtua Textile is the only integrated industry in Katsina state as it starts from the ginnery to finish products, the company’s initial staff strength of 1500 which grew up to 2500 in the past now as a current staff strength of 750.
Ibrahim Muazu Isa, the head of human resource, Funtua textile told LEADERSHIP that in spite of all the problems of power and multiple taxations, the company has not closed down for a day. He also states that at first the company produced 12,000 metric tons of gray baft but at the moment, the production capacity is less than 7,000 metric tons because of the decrease in the market for products and lack of new machines for production.
Even with the support from Bank of Industry, the fear of not being able to refund is a constant worry as the loan gotten from the bank might not be paid because of low profit, Isa said they need all the assistance they can get.
However, the cotton industry would be given utmost priority in order to resuscitate the ailing textile industry in the region. Adeshina said AfDB would also facilitate the state government’s effort to engage with the private sector to mobilise resources for a number of projects.
Towards the development of the North-west geopolitical zone, the Sokoto State Government plans to establish an agro-industrial park to revive major industries in the zone. But funding is not a lasting option rather Sokoto State and the other Northern States can make and implement policies that would favor the market for cotton production by tackling the issue of power generation and providing funds for reopening the textile companies.
Governor Tambuwal praised Adeshina for his contribution in actualising the partnership, stating that the state government was prepared to host the AfDB’s delegation visiting Sokoto state later in the year to seal the deal.
Some of the projects include medical tourism, healthcare delivery, renewable energy, agriculture with a focus on fertilizer delivery.