Nigeria’s textile industry has been struggling for survival in the past two decades. This is evident in the reduction in the number of textile industries operating in the country from 200 in the 1980s to only 25 per cent at present.
The textile sector was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy in the 1980s, providing jobs with a turnover, at the time, of over N8.9 billion, which represented more than 20 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at the sixth international conference of the Textile Researchers Association of Nigeria (TRAN) with the theme ‘Reviving the textile and allied industry: A sure way for economic recovery and growth’ in Abuja, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu lamented that Nigeria is blessed with abundant raw materials which could be utilized in the production of textiles and wearing apparels, yet most of the raw materials used in the textile industry are imported.
Onu represented by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr Bitrus Nabasu said the meeting provided a platform for researchers and other relevant stakeholders from various institutions across the country, who had been working tirelessly on the development of the textiles value-chain to share experiences and develop strategies to overcome the numerous challenges facing the industry.
In his remarks, the association’s national president, Prof. Kasali Bello said the aim of the gathering of intellectuals was to brainstorm and proffer solutions to the lingering problems of the textile subsector; come up with suggestions that could lead to the development of textile education programmes/curricular for polytechnics and universities that would make their graduates capable of being self-employed or even becoming employers of labour, inculcation of entrepreneurship and IT education; and finding ways of partnering with government and industry players to find lasting solutions to the problems of the textile industry that have the potential for mass employment and attendant reduction of security threat.
Earlier in his remarks, the director-general of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Dr Hussaini Ibrahim represented by the director of the council’s agriculture and agro-allied department, Dr Gabriel Awolehin pointed out that the revival of the textile was a possibility if all hands were on deck, saying researchers would come up with innovative ideas for products development that would compete favourably with other products in the world.