The Federal Government on Monday in Abuja expressed determination to increase the textile sector's share of the domestic market from the present 12 to 25 per cent by 2020. The Minister of State for Trade

and Investment, Samuel Ortom, made government's position known at a stakeholders retreat on the textile sub-sector of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).

''This increase is expected to create 60,000 additional direct jobs and put food on the tables of thousands of other Nigerians within the period,'' he said.

The minister, who expressed concern at the near moribund state of the nation's textile industry, said the situation had led to the loss of 776,000 jobs within a couple of years.
He said the sector which once boasted of over 800,000 employees, now battles to sustain 24,000 workers.

Ortom noted that Nigeria once had a very vibrant textile and garment sub-sector.
''It had a fixed investment of $ 4 billion, second only to South Africa in sub-Saharan Africa and third largest in Africa.

''It also had a 63 per cent capacity of textile manufacturing in West Africa and controlled 60 per cent of the textile market in Nigeria.

''Within the same period, the sub-sector had 175 fully functional textile mills which employed over 800,000 people.

''Today, the reality has changed and the picture is no longer the same.

''Employment is at an all-time low level, with 24,000 employees working in 25 functional mills that are characterised by low capacity utilisation as at 2008," he said.

The minister expressed regrets that the situation was further compounded by low export and high influx of cheap textile products.

Mr Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Trade, while agreeing with the Minister of State's submission, blamed the sector's woe on neglect by past administrations.

He said successive governments and Nigerians should be ashamed of what the once vibrant sector has become.

Aganga, who noted that a lot of work had been done to revive the sector since 2009, expressed regrets that nothing meaningful had been achieved.

''In spite of the work that has been put into the sector by various stakeholders since 2009, nothing significant has happened with the exception of the N100 billion loan by the Bank of Industry," he said.

The minister noted that the loan had, however, helped to save 8,000 jobs and created another 5,000 jobs.

He pointed out that there was a disconnect among different segments in the sector as everyone wanted to work in isolation, leading to a big gap in the value chain.
Aganga urged all those within the sector to link and work together to achieve something meaningful.

He said that the present administration's aim was for its textile industry to become number one in Africa and among the top 10 in the world.

The minister said this led to the development of the industrial revolution plan.

''The plan is based on sectors where Nigeria has competitive and comparative advantage to achieve its aim of being number one in Africa and among the top 10 in the world,'' he said.

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