News / Africa

    Former Nigeria Textile Workers Still Struggling

    The closed and dilapidated Arewa Textile Mill in Kaduna, Nigeria, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
    The closed and dilapidated Arewa Textile Mill in Kaduna, Nigeria, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
    Iliya Kure
    Adasu Inalegwu, a former textile worker in northern Nigeria, now runs a commercial motorcycle taxi business to support his family. “This is in addition to the small plot of land I cultivate to grow little food to sustain my family. That is the only way to survive,” he says.

    Inalegwu lost his job 10 years ago when the Arewa Textile mill closed down. He now lives in a small one bedroom house with his wife and eight children in Tirkania, just outside Kaduna.

    Inalegwu’s living conditions may be crowded, but he may be among the lucky ones.

    Adamu Maisantaki and many other former textile workers don’t have a piece of land to cultivate, or a small business that makes money, however meager. Every day, Maisantaki goes out looking for menial work so he can bring home something to eat.

    “Many of us have no means of livelihood and no hope for another job in a country with millions of unemployed youths,” said Maisantaki.  “We depend on what we get from friends and other relatives – many have seen their children withdrawn from school for nonpayment of school fees.”

    It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs when the textile mills closed down throughout Nigeria over the past decade. Many have staged demonstrations over the years demanding severance payments and other entitlements.

    Some have won court judgments against the textile companies, but their entitlements still have not come through because of legal questions over how to make the payments.
     
    Boom then bust 

    The first modern textile mill in Nigeria started operation in 1956 in Kaduna. By 1987, the Nigerian textile industry was estimated to be the third largest in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa.

    According to Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association, there used to be 180 textile mills employing more than 350,000 workers in the major textile towns of Aba, Asaba, Funtua, Gusau, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and Lagos. Three of the biggest and oldest mills were in Kaduna, which used to be called “Textile City.

    The industry was generating an estimated $9 billion in annual revenues, and government statistics indicated it directly or indirectly supported more than 17.2 million Nigerians.

    But Nigeria’s textile industry began crumbling by the late 1990s. Industry analysts blamed a lack of sufficient electrical power, dwindling domestic cotton production, cheaper textile imports as well as higher energy prices, tighter industry regulation and increased financing costs.

    The number of mills quickly sank from 180 to less than 25 in short order.
     
    Reason for optimism

    Early this year, Nigeria’s minister of trade and investment Olusegun Aganga, said the government was going to address the major factors hurting the textile industry, including the difficulties faced by cotton farmers. Other government officials talk of possible joint ventures between Nigerian and Pakistani textile manufacturers.

    Some Nigerian textile companies are taking advantage of the government’s Textile Development Fund to finance the purchase of new production equipment. Others have used fund money to expand their factories.

    But Hamma Kwajaffa, an official of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association, predicted the new fund would not have any significant impact until central government does something about producing enough electrical power. He said Kaduna state had taken a good first step in this direction with a just-completed project to supply industries in the area with 30 megawatts of additional electricity.

    Kwajaffa also called on the central government to put a halt to textile smuggling. “Government has done its part by banning (certain textile products), but the smugglers still find their ways,” Kwajaffa said. “Customs lack the personnel to man these borders. The borders are so porous, they (smugglers) have sophisticated guns to deal with officers of the Nigerian Customs, and they have killed many of them at the borders.”

    Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
    x
    Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
    Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
    “We cannot compete with imported textiles under the current business environment,” Kwajaffa continued. “Ninety to 95 per cent of all textile materials in the market are foreign material, either from China or India. Some of them are counterfeit products. If smuggling is stopped and counterfeit is stopped then we can be in business again.”

    Muhammadu Nura, who runs a shop in Kaduna that sells textiles, confirmed that about 95 per cent of the products are from outside Nigeria and said the government needs to start cracking down.

    “We are tired of empty promises of saying the factories will come back to life,” Nura said. “In the past, our customers mostly buy Nigerian materials, but now everybody is asking for foreign fabrics.”

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Chijianya from: America
    December 15, 2012 5:51 AM
    The closing of an economic institution like Arewa Textile Mills in a country where so many able bodied citizens are unemployed is disheartening. The Federal Ministry of Industries should make it possible for the mill to be revamped through new private partnerships. Steps should also be taken to address the issue of competition from foreign textiles. In some cases these foreign materials are made of low quality materials or materials that are unsuitable for the African tropical climate. The New Arewa Textile Mills management should make every effort to communicate this to the consumers. There is no reason in this whole world why an industry like this should be allowed to close in a nation with millions of potential consumers. Nigerians let's get the Arewa Textile Mills machines running once again. And The Honorable Minister for Industries over to you!

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora