Stakeholders in Nigeria’s textile and garment industry have described government’s decision to contract a Turkish company to produce all military and paramilitary uniforms in the country as capable of killing the sector and causing mass job loss.
The Nigerian government had last Thursday signed an agreement with the Turkish firm – Sur Corporatewear – to establish a factory in Kaduna where the items would be produced.
Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, had said that the Turkish firm was expected to develop local brand of textile materials and accessories.
He added that a total of N4.68bn would be invested by the firm to finance the enterprise and make it viable.
But kicking against the move, local players in Nigeria’s textile and garment industry said that the move would cause more crisis than solving any problem.
Creative Director of Ruff 'n' Tumble, Adenike Ogunlesi, described the development as shocking and capable of keeping the moribund industry in coma.
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 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.
“If you don’t invest in capacity building, how do we 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.
“We are a sovereign nation, so why is another nation in charge of our security uniforms?
“This is a project that has the capacity to grow the entire garment industry and it is given to a foreign company. This is definitely not right.”
Also reacting to the development, Managing Director of Sam and Sara, Mrs Folake Oyemade, 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 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 of it.”
Admitting that state governments had the right to work with whoever they wanted, Oyemade insisted it was wrong to cripple local manufacturers by diverting all military and paramilitary uniforms to a foreign company.