Against the background of the recent inspection visit to some of the moribund textile companies in Kaduna State by the state’s governor-elect, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, an expert in textile-related issues has proffered solutions to getting the industry back on stream.
While pointing out that the good intentions of the governor-elect for the industry was obvious from his gesture, Dr Abdullahi Danladi of the Department of Textile Science and Technology and who is also the Head of Department, ABU, Zaria, stated that the inspection visit marks the starting point needed in pushing the textile industry back into the major role it once played in the state’s economy.
Speaking exclusively in an interview, Danladi was of the opinion that a holistic approach that takes into consideration the major factors which led to the collapse of the industry would be needed in reviving it. In line with this, he said there was the need for the incoming governor to embark on an assessment which would involve all stakeholders, and from which recommendations could be made on the way forward.
According to Danladi who had once worked actively in the textile industry, a strong political will as indicated by the visit of the governor-elect must be followed with the setting up of a committee that would undertake a close study of some of the issues involved in order to map out the way forward in resuscitating the industry.
Asked specifically about the first things the governor-elect should do in fulfilling his promise to revive the industry and ensure it provided employment for thousands of citizens as it used to, Danladi said: “The first thing he should do is set up a committee that will undertake a proper study and analysis of all the factors involved viz and viz the economic situation, or the situation on ground. He has to look at the factors around; are they convenient? Can he achieve his intentions at that moment, or does he have to project? What can be the immediate or short term plan, medium term plan, and long term plan? Certainly the governor-elect would have done a lot by reactivating the textile industry. Let him set up a committee which must include those that are in the textile industry; he should call them together, sample their opinions, share ideas, then come up with a working document on how to move the textile industry forward in the state. Once he reactivates the textile industry, people will be happily employed and I believe the sky is the limit.”
The associate professor pointed out that such a committee needed to take a look at some of the major factors that led to the collapse of the industry, and based on this recommend how to deal with the issues involved. Such issues he said included the declining state of production at Nigeria’s oil refineries, inadequate power supply, smuggling, as well as substandard products. “I conducted a research and one of my students did another. Our major finding was that there were basically a few factors that led to the collapse of the textile industry,” Danladi said.
“Our petrochemical industry that is supposed to be feeding our textile industry was not performing that role. From the petrochemical we can have supplies for dye manufacturing companies, paint manufacturing companies, all of which have direct links with the textile industry. So when the refineries collapse, even the polymer, the polyester fibres, all of which are materials obtained from the petrochemical industry are no longer available locally.”
The other problem he pointed to was power supply to the textile industry.
“The greatest factor that led to the collapse of the industry is power. Textile industry is not a small workshop, not a barbing saloon; it is not a one room pure water plant. It cannot run on generator, the government has to be there, power has to be there. The energy demand is high so once there is this collapse in the power sector invariably it affects production in the textile industry,” he said.
In spite of these and other factors, Danladi said the greatest setback for the textile industry was the lack of commitment on the part of the government to ensure its survival. “There is also the lack of commitment on the part of the government to checkmate these things. Once you have a serious government that is sitting up to do thing in a proper way, then all the problems would be resolved,” he explained.
Asked to give a time frame needed to bring the industry back on stream, he said the problems that each textile company had might be different and this made it difficult to give a clear time frame. “It’s a multidimensional problem what we are dealing with, and since it is also a social-related problem, I may not be able to give a time frame,” he said. “There are the social and the mechanical angle to the problem, as well as the means of solving it. We have to go and see the state of the machines. There may be the need to get the management of these companies to sit and discuss, to know what they need based on their production rates. They could be asked how fast they would be able to go in putting back their machines. Based on these facts, what each company needs can be provided to get it to start production. But I think for all the companies, power is a major challenge.”
In spite of his reluctance to give the specific number of years during which the incoming administration could get the textile industry back to work, Danladi made a guess with regard to time frame category even as he pointed out that there would be roles for the federal government to play as the state government in the area of power generation, curbing smuggling activity, finance, and maintenance of industry standard. “From my experience, I may place it in the medium term category. But it is difficult to say this in the number of years needed because I have not been to these collapsed companies to assess what they need and how long it may take to bring them back on track. So it will not be right for me to give you time or number of years. What I know is that if the stakeholders are called together, and the government makes power available, I am sure they can go into production. No matter how little it may be they can produce at say, thirty percent, fifty or sixty. The more important thing is that they start from somewhere.”