December 9, 2022

The first textile industry in Northern Nigeriawas established by the then Premier of the region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna Sokoto in 1957. 

It was learnt that the establishment of Kaduna Textiles  Limited (KTL) led to the establishment of other textiles industries  in Kaduna, Kano, Funtua and Gusau . 

For instance, in Kaduna alone there were over ten flourishing textiles companies that were operating to optimum capacity. The same was equally true in Kano,Funtua and Gusau . 

Findings gathered that in the 1980’s, these textiles industries provided about 500,000 direct jobs. Thus, the textiles Findings gathered that in the 1980’s, these textiles industries provided about 500,000 direct jobs. Thus, the textiles then were thesecond employers of labour after government in the region . 

However, the story is no longer the same as all the textiles companies in Kaduna and other part of the region  have folded up . Findings gathered that only United Nigeria Textiles Limited (UNTL) which got a life line from the Bank of Industry in 2010 and Chellco, another garment factory that produces blanket, is operating  in Kaduna. In Kano too, one only textile company  is operating. 

The combined workforce of all the textiles in the region is put atThe combined workforce of all the textiles in the region is put at  2,000 . 

A former staff of KTL, who pleaded anonymity, remarked,   ‘Go around and see what I am talking about. Apart from green grass and reptiles in these companies,  there are  nothing that are remaining. The entire companies have equally been vandalised by hoodlums, he stressed. Another worker, Godwin  Joseph who had spent over fifteen years before the closure of the company (KTL) contended that, ‘ KTL has become a hidden place for criminals.  

When they commit crime they hide themselves inside the dilapidated structures because they know no one will go there.  

Last year, the head of the civilian JTF in Kakuri  was brutally killed when he chased some criminals to the  abandoned site . It was learnt that the sudden collapse of the textiles industry  shocked the workers to the bone marrow.  

According to the National President of the Textiles Workers Union, Comrade John Adaji, ‘it was an experience too much to bear. 

My members saw the closing up of the companies as a joke. They closed the textiles companies without paying a dime to the  workers. You can’t  imagine  mental and psychological  tortures  they had to pass through. 

According to Adaji, many were thrown out of their rented accommodations  with their property left on the  streets at the mercy ofthieves and natural calamities . “In the last two decades we have lost over one thousand workers due to hardships and health related challenges owning to the closure of these industries,” he said. Findings gathered that the few workers that got their entitlements  ended up as  Okada riders. ‘Seventy per cent of the Okada riders that you see around are former textiles workers, according to the labour leader. But what has the union done to fight for it’s members?  

“As Iam talking to you, we have many court litigations and it might interest you to know that we have been pursuing some of these court cases for the past two decades.”  Adaji also lamented that the judiciary processes were too cumbersome and frustrating. “There is this case in Kano against a textile industry.

Judgement was given in our favour as  we were asked to sell all the  assets of the company  to pay the workers but could you believe the owner just Appeal the judgement?, he disclosed. 

How did the textiles Industry find its self in this mess? A former Personnel Manager of KTL, Alh Musa Ibrahim, remarked that government policies attributed to the collapsed of the industry.  

According to him, the  industry in early days enjoyed some kind of protectionfrom the Federal Government through the ban on imported textile products, but whenanother  government un­banned importation, trouble start­ed.Judgement was given in our favour as  we were asked to sell all the  assets of the company  to pay the workers but could youbelieve the owner just Appeal the judgement?, he disclosed. 

How did the textiles Industry find its self in this mess? A former Personnel Manager of KTL, Alh Musa Ibrahim, remarked that government policies attributed to the collapsed of the industry.  

According to him, the  industry in early days enjoyed some kind of protectionfrom the Federal Government through the ban on imported textile products, but whenanother  government un­banned importation, trouble start­ed.‘Big men in government went to China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore etc  to  import textile fabrics because of the money involved, he said. Collaborating this view, the National President of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Comrade John Adaji noted that the liberalisation policy killed the sector as the influx of finished textile goods from those countries  which were substandard but cheap­er, found the hearts of  Nigerians, while on  the other hand, the textiles companies  could no longer produce and break, even though ours were superior in quality.

Closely related to the above, was  the issue of smuggling. It was learnt that smuggled textiles goods found their ways into our markets and until Government stands firm on this, it might not be uhuru for the textiles industry.

One of those calling for the government to do something is the General Secretary of the Textiles Workers Union, Comrade Issa Aremu. Speaking in an interview with newsmen, the labour leader said the Nigeria Customs Service should man the borders well in order to check the influx of  these smuggled goods . 

According to him, the Customs boss has to be up and doing and evolve strategies that would  combat the activities of these smugglers.Apart from that, the issue of raw materials was another problem. Cotton was the major raw material and was  cultivated in the North but unfortunately the quantity produced could not meet up with the demands of these factories. 

A textile worker, who pleaded anonymity recalled how they were running three shifts, morning, afternoon and evening, saying,  ‘gradually we began to run two shifts and then one shift before we were asked to stay at  home because they could not get cotton for production. 

The source also attributed the collapsed of the textiles industry to the epileptic power supply. ‘Initially, there was no issue with electricity but later, the constant power outage, forced the companies to depend heavily ondiesel thereby, doubling the cost of production. 

Any hope for the industry?Comrade Adaji contended that the loan set aside by the Bank of Industry was one of the interventions strategies aimed at reviving the industries.  He said it was the same loan facility that was used to revive United Nigeria Textiles Limited (UNTL), thecompany in 2010. 

According to him, UNTL today has a workforce of 1,000 people. Apart from that, the labour leader remarked that there was a huge potential market in the country, saying, if we choose to consume what we produce, there is a big market. You can’t  imagine how much we would make if the executive, the legislative and other governments officials buy these fabrics. Also, there is concerted efforts by the 19 Northern states owners of KTL to revive the ailing textiles Industry.

Findings gathered that the Northern Governors had entered into partnership with a Turkish firm to revamp the ailing Kaduna Textiles. Speaking in an interview, the Group Managing Director of  the New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC), Dr Ahmed Mohammed Musa, said that a Turkish firm, Sur International Textile, would invest $15m in revitalising the Kaduna Textiles Ltd (KTL) . 

Shedding morelight on the agreement the  GMD said  KTL would produce the uniform needs of the Nigerian Armed Forces  as well as the Police and other paramilitary agencies in the country and across the West Africa subregion. He noted that revamping KTL would boost the economy of Kaduna as well as create employment opportunities to the unemployed youths roaming the streets.

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