By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday disclosed that smuggling of textiles goods alone costs the nation an import bill of over $4.0billion annually.
According to the Governor, this has led to a situation where most of the textile factories, stopped operations thus reducing their workforce from about two million to less than 20,000 people.
Emefiele made the assertions in his welcome address at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding Between:National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) and Ginning Companies; Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association and Armed Forces of Nigeria, Nigeria Police, Paramilitary Institutions & National Youth Service Corps at the corporate head office of the CBN in Abuja.
The governor who noted that a large proportion of the clothing materials are imported from Asia and European countries, said the signing of the MOUs was a “result of almost two years of painstaking activities and consultations with key stakeholders in the CTG value chain”.
According to him, “in May 2019, we took the first step in this journey in Katsina State with the flag-off of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers, cultivating 150,000 hectares in 23 States of the Federation. Currently the cotton planted by these hardworking farmers has begun fruiting and will soon be ready for off-taking from the Month of November.
“Furthermore, we are improving the linkage between cotton farmers and ginneries, by ensuring that ginneries are able to off-take the high-quality cotton produced by these farmers. In this regard, approval to a tune of N19.18billion has been granted to finance nine (9) ginneries with a view to retooling their processing plants, while providing them with improved access to finance at single digit interest rate.
“This is to help sustain their operations and improve their production capacity. The same support will be extended to the textile and garment firms. We have invested heavily in our local textile and garment factories to retool and produce assorted uniforms for our uniformed services that meet international standards.
“We have also constituted a Textile Revival Implementation Committee (TRIC) which includes the CBN, Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development; Water Resources; Industry, Trade and Investment; and the Governments of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Gombe and Zamfara States.
“This Committee is driving the initiative to achieve self-sufficiency in cotton production and textile materials within a span of 3 years. In this regard, we have held consultative meetings with State Governments on ways to reduce the operational cost of running textile factories within their respective States.
“State Governments have indicated their interest in providing captive power plants in industrial areas where textile manufacturers operate, in order to enhance their productivity and reduce the operational cost of running their factories.
“We believe that through these initiatives, all the businesses along the cotton- textile value chain can come alive again thereby helping to improve the economy of our states”.
The Governor added that the MOU signing resulted from several engagements including a mini exhibition in September 2019, where representatives of the armed forces, uniformed services and other stakeholders all inspected and attested to the quality of Nigerian textile and garment products.
“Today we are set to take a giant leap towards the implementation of Executive Order 003, which President Muhammadu Buhari directed all MDAs to comply with by granting preference to local content in their procurement of goods and services.
“You will agree that we have arrived at the juncture where we are opportune to establish a closer collaboration and ties to leverage on each other’s strengths to spearhead patronage of our local textile and garment factories in procurement of uniforms going forward.
“To ensure confidence in the capacity of our local textile and garment factories, teams from the CBN and the armed forces and uniformed services visited the factories to ascertain their capacities to meet the huge demand that has been created as a result of our effort.
” I am happy to inform everyone that the reports of these teams were positive and have confirmed the readiness of the companies to produce quality uniforms that can compete globally”.
The governor pointed out that production of uniform wears especially for the armed forces calls for high level security concerns in handling, transportation and storage.
“To this end, we will work with the security agencies alongside concerned textile and garment factories to ensure that the finished products as well as wastes are treated as currency -with highest level of security until they are delivered to the right clients or disposed accordingly.
“We believe that these steps which we are embarking on today, will not only resuscitate this vital sector, but it will also help support our efforts at creating jobs for a large number of Nigerians”
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for creating the enabling environment for the implementation of the policy as well as the Services Chiefs, Heads of Uniformed Services, NACOTAN, Nigerian Ginners Association and the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association for their support in making the MOU signing a reality.
Present at the signing ceremony were Governors Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State; Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State, Deputy Governors of Gombe and Katsina States as well as Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola and Minister of State for Budget & National Planning, Prince Clem Agba.
Others include representatives of the Service Chiefs, Customs, Civil Defence, Immigration Service, Roads Safety Commission, Police, etc; and various textile factories each of whom signed the MOUs.
Highpoint of the ceremony was an exhibition of various military and para military camouflage and foot wears.