Some stakeholders in the textile and garment industry in Nigeria have faulted the Federal Government’s alleged directive that all military and paramilitary uniforms be given to Turkish company in partnership with Defence Industry Complex (DICON) in Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria.
They lamented that such directive was capable of killing the garment and textile industry in Nigeria, hence the need to involve local textile firms.
Last Thursday, a memorandum of understanding to ensure the establishment of a military and paramilitary clothing factory in Kaduna was signed with a Turkish firm, Sur Corporatewear, in Abuja.
Speaking during the signing of the agreement, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, had said the Turkish firm was expected to develop local brand of textile materials and accessories.
He had added that a total of $13million (N4.68 billion) would be invested by the firm to finance the enterprise and make it viable.
Reacting to the development, the Creative Director of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, Adenike Ogunlesi, described the development as shocking and capable of keeping the moribund industry in coma.
In a statement they jointly signed, Ogunlesi disclosed that stakeholders had been holding meetings on how to revive the industry, hence the directive came as a shock to her.
She said: “When President Muhammadu Buhari directed that all uniforms shouldn’t be imported any longer, we were all excited. We felt it was high time for the local manufacturers to build capacity.
“We have met with the military and paramilitary bodies, and they have promised to patronise us. We went as far as coming up with a MOU, they made corrections and returned it to us.”
Ogunlesi stressed the need for the government to believe in local companies and give them a chance to grow.
She urged the government to create a level playing ground for all in the industry. Describing the development as a security breach, Ogunlesi said it was totally wrong for a foreign company to make our security uniforms.
“If you don’t invest in capacity building, how do will grow? The government needs to believe in us. This is an attempt to kill the local industry because we have been looking forward to building local capacity.
“This is an opportunity to develop the local capacity, bring in technical partners to deliver on a project as big as this and create jobs. We are a sovereign nation, so why is another nation in charge of pour security uniforms? This is a project that has the capacity to grow the entire garment industry and it is given to one company. This is definitely not right,” she said.
Also speaking on the development, the Managing Director of Sam and Sara, Mrs. Folake Oyemade, who described the move as unpatriotic.
She said: “I was shocked when I learnt about it because President Buhari has more interest in reviving the textile industry and I don’t believe he was aware of this development. I don’t understand why the job is given to a foreigner when local investors have indicated interest in it.
“I have two garment factories and we have more than 1,000 workers. I don’t know what the Turkish firm is bringing to Kaduna State that we cannot do. The state government even offered them equity.
“We had also approached them for the same project and we didn’t ask for any equity, yet it didn’t see the light of the day. We offered to build a factory and employ their youths but nothing came out from it.”
Admitting that state government has the right to work with whoever they decide to, she insisted it was wrong to cripple local manufacturers by diverting all military and paramilitary uniforms to a foreign company.
“But I strongly believe the Federal Government has a good intention. We also have a MOU framework with the government, which will be sign this week. We don’t know the details of the agreement reached with the Turkish firm but I read that FG had directed that all the military and paramilitary bodies must patronise them.”
She disclosed that after they got some jobs from the Federal Government, her company was able to open a factory they shut down for two years.
“I believe they should be a level playing ground for all. We have Public-Private Partnership deal with Osun State, where we built a uniform factory, Omoluabi Garment Factory. We didn’t get any equity from the government, we funded the factory, trained 500 youths and employed some trainees,” she said.
The owner of Wessy Tailor, Otunba Wasiu Taiwo, on his part lamented that local factories had been folding up because there was no huge market.
He said: “Government needs to support and encourage us. We have the population and we have the man power as well. They shouldn’t give our jobs to foreigners when we are capable of delivering the same quality.
“The Indians and Chinese are already competing with us in the textile and garment industry, yet you want to give our security uniforms to the Turkish. When they make their money, will they spend it in Nigeria?
“Of course, no; they will take it back to Turkey. They will only come here to make money, not because they love us. If anyone comes to invest in your country, the ultimate goal is to make profit.”