The Nigerian Senate has urged the federal government to place a five-year ban on importation of textiles into the country.
This, the Senate said, was to allow for the development of the country’s textile industry.
The upper legislative chamber made the call on Tuesday following a motion sponsored by Katsina Central Senator Kabir Barkiya on the “Urgent need to revamp the nation’s comatose textile industry”.
The Senate said there was need for the government to put critical infrastructure in place to encourage local textile manufacturing companies and thereby revamp the industry.
Barkiya said, “The textile industry recorded an annual growth of 67 per cent and as at 1991, employed above 25 per cent of the workers in the manufacturing sector.
“The textile industry was then the highest employer of labour apart from the civil service.”
According to Barkiya, the textile industry had witnessed massive decline in the last two decades with many textile companies such as Kaduna Textile, Kano Textile and Aba Textile among others shutting down.
He noted government policies responsible for the grounding of local textile companies to include increase in taxation, high cost of production, and trade liberalisation, among others.
Barkiya said if revived, the textile industry will provide additional revenue and assist government to diversify the nation’s economy.
In his contribution, Deputy Senate Leader, Robert Boroffice, said: “The closure of our borders is an eye opener. China closed its borders for 40 years for its industrialisation and development.
“I believe that the closure our borders should be extended to allow us put our house in order.”
Boroffice said the federal government’s extension of the border closure will help revive industries that had been characterised by smuggling in the country.
Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe however disagreed with Boroffice on his claim that the border closure will help revamp the textile industry, saying, “closing the borders and doing nothing will not lead to increase in production of textiles.
“The real problems have been indicated; first, is the fact that we are unable to produce the cotton that we need.
“But far more important is the fact of power. Power was the key problem that made most of the textile mills closed.
“Once it became very difficult after 1982 for industries to be supplied with power and they needed to switch over to now produce their own power in order to do production, it became a lose, lose situation for most of the industrialists.”
The Senate Minority Leader expressed optimism that smuggling of textile into the country will be a thing of the past if the government should address power challenge.
Senator Gabriel Suswam, on his part, said no manufacturing industry can thrive without stable power supply.
“If we take concrete actions on these issues, our economy will be enhanced, the welfare of the people will be enhanced, insecurity and by extension, criminality, will be reduced,” he said.
In his remark, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said “we have to be prepared for the repercussions” as Nigeria had signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.
“We cannot stop trading easily with other people. We have to up our game; we need to be competitive,” Lawan said.