By Chukwuma Umeorah

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for concerted efforts by stakeholders at revitalising Nigeria’s dwindling textile industry.

President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, speaking at the 13th National Delegates’ Conference of the National Union of Textiles Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) in Abuja, on Tuesday, voiced concerns over the mismanagement of funds allocated to revive the sector, pointing to past government initiatives such as the N100 billion and recent N50 billion Textile Revival Implementation Committee (TRIC).

He lamented that, despite these investments, the industry continues to struggle, prompting questions about the effective utilisation of funds.

He said, “Nigerians would want to know what happened and why the sector is still struggling despite the purported injection of these funds,” adding that there was no nation that joked with its textile sector because of its value chain and “the great potential for job creation, both directly and indirectly.”

Ajaero said, “We remember that the sector employed millions of Nigerians in the over 200 full-fledged textile companies that dotted the landscape proudly utilising our cotton to produce various textile products that were consumed internally and exported to neighbouring countries.”

Ajaero further highlighted the devastating impact of neoliberal policies on the textile sector: “Your union was heavily impacted by the policies of the twin altars – the IMF and World Bank. The neoliberal ‘marketist’ philosophy opened our economy to all manner of unhealthy competition via imports.”

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According to the NLC president, “finished textile wears and materials poured into our country and this sounded the death knell for our local textile industry.”

He lamented that a vibrant sector, which would have served as the basis for national industrialisation began to wane.

“Companies shut down their operations. We cannot count the number of textile factories that closed shop and laid off thousands of workers all around Nigeria. Our nation is still reeling from the shock.”

Amid these challenges, Ajaero called for unity and collective action, stressing the need for all stakeholders to join hands in rescuing the textile sector.

He applauded NUTGTWN for its past efforts in advocating for workers’ rights and urged the union to continue its relentless pursuit of a sustainable future for the industry.

Emphasising the theme of the conference, “Building Union Power for sustainable industrialisation and the future of work,” Ajaero reiterated the importance of solidarity and cooperation among unions to effect meaningful change.

He urged union members to elect leaders who prioritise the interests of workers and remain committed to building a stronger labour movement.