In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills.
The Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) sub-sector, employed close to 450,000 people that translated to more than 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.
But today, only 25 textile factories are operating, and they function at below 20 per cent installed capacity and engaged less than 20,000 people.
The fortunes of CTG sub-sector started dwindling in the 1990s, as a result of some challenges faced by cotton farmers, ginneries and textile firms.
Farmers and processors were confronted with low quality seeds, high cost of production, poor access to finance and smuggling of textile materials into the country.
Statistics recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), showed that textiles worth four billion dollars were smuggled into the country annually.
But there is renewed vigour by the present administration, to revive the CTG through CBN’s intervention.
In order to boost the CTG sector, the Federal Government had given directive to some agencies and uniformed organisations to patronise local textile industries.
The present administration through the CBN is targeting engaging 300,000 farmers to achieve 450,000 metric tonnes of cotton in 26 states in the next three years.
The bank is to achieve this through its Anchor Borrowers Programme, which had already commenced with the cultivation of 200,000 hectares of hybrid cotton seeds to be distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 states.
Part of the strategy is also to import 6,000 metric tonnes of improved cotton seeds, while additional 2,000 metric tonnes of cotton seeds had been sourced locally.
The data released by the bank indicates that “total expected yield at the end of the current season is 302,440 metric tonnes. The distribution of inputs to cotton farmers was launched in Katsina on May 6.
Twenty ginneries in seven states- Borno, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Zamfara were selected to participate in the CBN’s financed cotton project.
According to CBN, ginners are to sell their lint to textile factories with the ultimate objective of producing textiles to meet the needs of the members of the uniformed services.
The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the funds to operationalise the ginneries, had been approved and to be disbursed through the Bank of Industry.
Emefiele said about N19.18 billion had been approved by the bank to fund nine ginneries across the country.
The approval is to enable them retool their processing plants, while they are to access the funds at single digit interest rate.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on his part, lamented the closure of textile factories especially in the North, and assured that his administration would revive the sector.
“We promoted policies that will support local industries such as import restrictions.
“We introduced programmes that provided affordable and accessible capital for both large and cottage industries.
“We also introduced Executive Orders that encouraged the procurement of Made in Nigeria goods and services.”
According to him, his administration will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items, which can be produced locally.
He said: “We will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items which can be produced locally. We owe this to the over 200 million Nigerians.”
According to the President, the textile and garment sector has the potential to create millions of jobs, and will therefore, remain one of the priority sectors for the administration.
Referring to his recent directive to all government uniformed institutions to use locally produced garments, President Buhari said unbelievable number of jobs will be created when the military, police, para-military organisations, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), fully patronise local industries.
He, therefore, urged state governments to key into this policy for their schools, hospitals and other institutions.
In the same vein, Mr Isa Aremu,
the General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), lamented the closure of hundreds of textile factories, which used to employ “millions of workers, more than the workforce of the Federal Government in the 70s and 80s.”
He, however, commended the textile-friendly policies of the Buhari-led administration, such as the interventions by the CBN and the Executive Order on the use of local garments by uniformed organisations, among others.
Aremu stressed the need to tackle the high incidence of smuggling of textiles, in order to protect the sector as well as boost job creation.
The activist said the recent signing of MoU between the CBN and some major stakeholders was a gradual effort of lifting the sector from the state of hopelessness to hope.
Aremu noted that the effort made by the CBN was commendable and would be supported by his union, and appealed to other relevant groups and indeed all Nigerians to do the same.
Alhaji Salman Abdullahi, the President, Cotton Ginners Association of Nigeria, commended the CBN for its commitment to revive CTG sub-sector.
Abdullahi said when the stakeholders’ meeting was convened sometimes to work out ways to revive the sector, he thought it would be like similar gatherings in the past, that did not yield any positive result.
He pledged that members of his association would live up to expectation, by ensuring quality production.
Dr Arome Salifu, an economist, said the step taken by Federal Government was a welcome development.
According to him, for any economy to thrive, a critical component like manufacturing sector must be given priority.
“The CTG is a critical component in manufacturing sector, therefore, the apex bank has taken the right step in the right direction by choosing this component to support.’’
Salifu said that this kind of investment was needed at this time because of its jobs creation potential.
He called for involvement of critical stakeholders, like civil society organisations, in the monitoring and evaluation of the project to ensure judicious use of funds.
Sumaila writes for News Agency of Nigeria.
Re: Edo Polls And Threats Of Violence
The attention of the Rivers State Government has been drawn to an article titled: “Edo Polls and Threats of Violence” published in the Politics page (Page 14) of The Nation Newspaper, August 24, 2020.
Unfortunately, the entire write-up leaves a sour taste in the mouth and a disturbing realization of the dubious and sinister intent of how a respected title like The Nation Newspaper may have wittingly breached the ethics of the profession and subjected itself to the objective scrutiny and judgment of the hate speech code.
First of all, the article has no bye-line and this observation, from every objective analysis, puts a question mark on the professionalism of the Newspaper.
Even though the organisation may likely claim that it was an error of ommision, but what is certain is that the views, opinions and allegations contained in the article are wholly and incontrovertibly those of the publication. Its editors should be prepared to accept vicarious responsibility for any action emanating from the interpretation of the article.
It is important to state here that as an independent publication, The Nation Newspaper is at liberty to align with any ideology its editorial focus desires to embrace and if, in the promotion of such an ideology, it finds itself in tandem with the opinions and informed commentaries expressed in any written contribution or commentary it chooses to publish for public consumption, then the management of the publication should do the needful and either classify such a write-up as either an editorial of the publication, or put the name of the author on the said publication to give it identity and credibility. They did neither in the said article.
We will refrain from joining issues with all the snide innuendos and direct attacks casting libelous aspersions on the personality of the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. It is quite provocative and disingenuous to invoke situations, circumstances and events over which one has incomplete knowledge about, as illustrations to justify a conclusion, as the write-up has so brazenly concocted as regards the election in Rivers State.
Addressing the viccisitudes and complexities that are already defining the forthcoming September 19, Edo State governorship elections, we wish to place on record that prior to every election he has contested, Governor Nyesom Wike has always been the prime advocate for violence-free polls and has loudly insisted that all elections must be free and fair and the votes of the people must count. Most importantly, he always advocates that people should be vigilant and guard their votes to make sure every vote counts.
This is the stance of a confident politician who believes in the tenets of true democracy and the process of free and fair polls and we want to state categorically here that the popularity, admiration and overwhelming acceptance of Governor Nyesom Wike as a bold, fearless and charismatic politician is not and has never been in doubt, not just in Rivers State, but across the country.
Those who followed the 2019 governorship election in Rivers State, which, fortunately, was comprehensively covered by the media, including The Nation Newspaper, will recall the outstanding and courageous acts of spontaneous bravery across the state and particularly by the heroic resistance of the women of Ogu-Bolo LGA, who stood their ground and revolted against armed soldiers who invaded their local government polling units to ostensibly hijack electoral materials and truncate the collation of the March 9 elections results in the locality.
Immediately after he was appointed the Chairman of Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship Campaign Council, one of the very first initiatives Governor Wike undertook, was an interview on a popular national television network where he urged the Security Agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be impartial in the forthcoming Edo State gubernatorial election. He equally appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to prevail on those saddled with the responsibility of conducting the election, to ensure that the polls were free and fair.
Governor Wike has since appeared on several more live television interviews with respected news networks to stress the same point that all efforts must be put in place to prevent violence and ensure free and fair polls in the forthcoming Edo State elections.
These admonitions, coming as they are from the Chairman of the Edo State PDP Campaign Council is a clear indication that the party is solidly advocating for free and fair election in Edo State and is prepared to do everything legally and legitimately possible to protect and defend the votes of Edo people.
Of course, it is only to be expected that Governor Wike will appear like a nightmare to those who believe that intimidation of voters and the deployment of force and might as was widely reported in the last Governorship election in Kano State as well as the Governorship and National Assembly elections in Kogi State for example, will give them victory.
Interestingly, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is the Chairman of the Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Campaign Council and quite coincidentally too, Kogi State has featured prominently as has been widely reported in some media, on matters relating to insecurity in the forthcoming Edo State election.
To put this disturbing scenario in proper context, we recall the attack on the PDP Campaign Council during their visit to the revered Oba of Benin, the attack on Governor Obaseki’s campaign train in Apana (Ward 10), Etsako Local Government Area and the very instructive video of the APC Governorship candidate holding a meeting with a group which described themselves as ‘Lions and Tigers” which went viral a few weeks ago.
The Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has gone on national media (both print and electronic) to make far reaching revelations, including providing names and photographs and narrating detailed plots of how certain persons are planning to derail the Edo State Election, breach the peace with widespread violence and even assassinate certain persons in his party. He boldly declared that he has already forwarded these information to the security agencies for expected appropriate action.
It is also quite sickening and a stark revelation of the wicked mindset of those challenging Governor Wike, that a benevolent act commiserating with the families of those who lost relatives and loved ones as a result of election violence, has now been twisted in their warped, devious logic to justify election violence.
We will not dwell much on this tragic turn of events, except to state that Governor Wike has zero tolerance for election violence and note that for the first time in our political history, a proper panel was set up to identify and ascertain the magnitude of loss and it was not just civilians but also military families were commiserated.
The intention of that heart touching gesture was to send a clear message that all Nigerian lives matter and, in recognition of the fact that families have lost breadwinners as a result of needless election violence, there was the need for government to show care and empathy and identify with the families who were grieving and mourning.
It is indeed quite sad and unfortunate that human lives mean nothing to those who wrote the said article as it has already revealed, even before the votes are cast that they are prepared to waste lives because they want to get power at all cost.
We want to state categorically that we take very strong exception to the vile and uncouth attempt to blemish the image and reputation of Governor Wike by the faceless authors of the article. We understand the fact that the mere presence of the Rivers State Governor, has sent uncomfortable shivers down the spine of those who may be plotting to disenfranchise the people of Edo State in the September 19 Governorship election. He has become a scourge to their shenanigans and we are not unmindful of the deliberate media campaign to discredit him, for which of course, we are taking appropriate action. This one too will not be an exception.
On a final note, we want to assure those attempting to smear Governor Wike that their efforts are like pouring water into a basket because the Rivers State Governor is not at all perturbed and is certainly not going to lose any sleep over their uncharitable comments. This rejoinder is to put The Nation Newspaper and those connected with this article on notice that we have seen and read it.
Let us reiterate, for the purpose of emphasis, that as the Chairman of the Edo State PDP Governorship campaign council, Governor Wike is once again calling on the security agencies, INEC and President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure a free, fair, violence-free election in Edo State. We equally call on Edo people to defend their votes in line with the laid down election guidelines and take their own destiny in their hands to decide who becomes their next Governor. Power belongs to the people and the voice of the people is the voice of God. In the end, God will win in Edo State.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
Taming The Rape Culture In Nigeria
The increasing cases of rape in Nigeria is a great concern to many. Scarcely a day passes without an incident of a woman, girl or infant being raped in one part of the country or another. Some of the victims are not only raped but brutalised and killed. Recall the story of how a 22-year-old 100 level Microbiology student of the University of Benin, Uwaila Omozuwa, was raped and murdered in a church in Benin a few months ago.
When the Senate in June 2015, ratified the Sexual Offences Bill (2015) which prescribes life imprisonment for rapists and those who have sexual interaction with children under 11 years, many thought that would assist in reducing rape cases in the country. Incidentally, that is not the case yet as many women in the country, both young and old, are daily subjected to sexual abuses. Some are reported, while many go unreported.
However, as the cases soar, individuals, human rights organisations, civil society groups and others relentlessly work towards the curtailment of the bestial act. One of such groups, Center for Women Studies and Intervention (CWSI) and its partners, including International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), (Nig), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and others, recently in Abuja, called for an end to gender-based violence and rape.
Relating several pathetic stories of female sexual abuses in many parts of the country, CWSI Executive Director, Rev Sr Ngozi Frances Uti, said it was high time government and lawmakers demonstrated more commitment and be more passionate about rape and other forms of sexual abuses if the menace must be curbed.
According to her, “when a woman/girl is raped, she loses her self-esteem/worth. She is plunged into depression if she survives the ordeal and forever battles with the trauma. This uncontrollable sexual appetite of the rapist destroys the victim’s future and pushes her into a lifelong dark age”.
In the viewpoint of Chairperson, FIDA, Abuja Branch, Rachael Adejo-Andrew, the country does not lack laws that criminalise rape and other sexual offences as the Penal Code, the Criminal Code and the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, (VAPP), all have portions that deal with the abominable acts. What is in short supply, however, is the implementation of these laws?
She called on the police and all those charged with the responsibility of implementing or enforcing these laws to sit up just as states that are yet to adopt the VAPP Act should do so. “The penalty in that law is stiff enough to prohibit people from perpetrating the crime and it also has provisions for psycho-socio, medical, legal and other supports for rape victims,” she emphasised.
The legal icon harped on the need for the police, rape victims and their families as well as the entire populace to realise that rape is a crime against the state which should not be mediated but be allowed to be dealt with in accordance with the law.
In her words: “sometimes we hear things like oh! they have begged me; my pastor has intervened; my grandfather has called so l am going to drop the case; I am not going forward with the case and all that. We need to understand that rape is a crime against the state. It is not against the individual. Yes, the individual is the one suffering but it is a crime against the state and you don’t mediate a crime. You let it go to court. Let the court take its course”.
Also, she admonished that to make a rape case easy and for victims to be victorious, the following must be done: victims must not destroy the evidence, they should immediately report to government recognised hospital; they should ensure the case is reported and documented at a police station; involve CSOs so they can follow up the case; ensure that a lawyer is involved for a thorough investigation; they should be tenacious, committed and determined to see the case through.
It is a known fact that many rape victims who would have heeded Adejo-Andrew’s counsel and ensure that the perpetrators do not go scot-free are discouraged by the stigma associated with sexual abuse. To address the important issue, Media Officer, CISLAC, Onyekachi Eze, called for more sensitisation and education by the media and other stakeholders. “Do you know some parents even tell their abused daughters to keep quiet due to fear of being stigmatised? So, until we get strong sanctions that can stop them, let us keep educating and sensitising,” she opined.
Similarly, a member of WRAPA, Dinma Nwanye-Ajanaku, advocated that religious and traditional leaders who have the ability to influence community members should be educated on how to handle rape cases. She grimaced at the practice of always focusing on victims when reporting rape cases in the media. She said attention should rather be paid to the offenders as a way of naming and shaming them.
In the views of a past Executive Director of CWSI, Rev Sr Rosemary Ukata, to win the fight against rape in Nigeria and save our society, law enforcement agents and all those responsible for implementing laws against the menace should rise to their responsibilities. She suggested that gender desks at police stations should be made functional and further advocated that the issue of drug and other substance abuses be given more bite by the relevant bodies.
The need for proper parental upbringing, more attention to the boychild and value reorientation of the entire citizenry were also proposed by some other participants as ways of dealing with the crime.
A country representative, Catholic Agency for Oversea Development (CAFOD) and Catholic Charities Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), Mr Kelechi Emeh, capped it all by calling for the establishment of a special court for rape cases and for more synergy between the CSOs and other stakeholders in the battle against the scourge. He said: “We are not in a competition. We are working for a common purpose. When we come together and pull our resources together we achieve our aim of making our society better”.
Wike, Expanding Infrastructure For The Future
When Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike announced that the State Government would embark on the construction of a fourth flyover to be sited at GRA Junction, Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway in addition to the three ongoing flyovers at Rumuogba, Okoro-nu-Odo, Rebisi and also expand the Rumuola flyover, the wailers and naysayers went to town with their usual perennial criticisms.
Ranging from the now overflogged line that the Governor was using Rivers money to develop only Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas at the expense of other areas, to not creating jobs for the youths, some even made snide and sarcastic allusions to the N78.9 billion refund. No doubt, the critics have had a field day in the court of public opinion.
But the pragmatic Governor has taken all in his calm, unperturbed style and continued with stoic commitment and unwavering resolve, to deliver on his promise to Rivers people.
He had already fixed his compass on the future of Rivers State and with Port Harcourt and the capital territory as the epicenter of any planning.
The need to reconfigure infrastructural facilities to accommodate futuristic calculations, was both urgent and expedient, especially against the backdrop of making the State an Investors’ Haven.
Modern urbanization has made flyovers an inevitable infrastructural development component because they are built over man-made structures such as roads and intersections, to prevent congestion and provide a more convenient way to navigate through the traffic. They are also built to provide safe and convenient passage for the pedestrians, help to streamline the traffic control system by reducing traffic gridlock and minimise the risk of off-road crashes, amongst other advantages.
One of the key pledges Governor Wike made to Rivers people when he assumed office in 2015, was to embark on comprehensive urban renewal as well as actualize the age-long yearnings of the indigenes and residents of the local government areas to be able to connect and access the rest of the State by tarred roads and durable bridges.
Five years into his tenure, the urban renewal programme in the capital city and indeed the interconnectivity across the length and breadth of the State is progressing amazingly.
The capital territory of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor is undergoing massive construction as restoration works, including underground drains, sidewalks, green areas and street lights on most of the roads in the Old and new Government Reservation Areas are all at very advanced stages of completion. This is in addition to the three flyovers that are progressing simultaneously and expected to beat the deadline of February 2021.
The construction of the 4th flyover bridge across GRA junction and accompanying dualization of Ezimgbu road and the dualization of Tombia Extension, GRA to link Ikwerre will all be delivered on schedule.
And for those who accuse Governor Wike of only developing the capital territory of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, complimentary construction work including the dualization of Kira – Sapkenwa – Bori – Kono, straddling three Local Government Areas in Ogoni heartland, has almost been completed and the Construction of Oyigbo (Mbano camp) to Iriebe, linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of the State, has already been completed and would have been commissioned if not for the outbreak of COVID-19.
Also completed virtually, are Alesa- Agbonchia – Oyigbo road linking Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State; and the Rumuakunde and Isioudu communities’ roads in Emohua Local Government Areas of the State.
Similarly, the second phase of Isiokpo community internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Areas has been completed and the construction works on the 16.85 kilometers Rumuji – Ibaa – Isiokpo road in Emohua and Ikwerre Local Government Areas have passed the 90 percent completion level, while the dualization of the 23 kilometers Omoku – Egbema road in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area has progressed beyond 50 per cent.
In Etche Local Government Area, the 21.3 kilometers Odufor/Akpoku/Umuoye road has since crossed 70 percent construction level, while the Aker-base road in Obio/Akpor Local Government, the Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke road; the Odiokwu internal road network in Ahoada West Area as well as the Abonnema ring road in Akuku Toru Local Government Area, and the Umuma road in Omuma Local Government Area, and the Sime – Eteo – Nonwa road connecting Tai and Eleme Local Government Areas, are all virtually ready for commissioning once the Coronavirus threat is successfully mitigated to allow for such activities.
By a combination of unshakable commitment and a visionary drive to ensure the delivery of excellent and legacy infrastructural projects, the Governor Wike administration has vigourosly pursued the accomplishment of its promise to complete the long-abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas of the State and the Ogoni – Andoni – Opobo (Unity) road. In fact, citizens of Opobo Ancient Kingdom drove home for the first time in centuries only last year.
The infrastructural development of Rivers State is inclusively holistic and contrary to the notions and misleading opinions of critics, who have not traversed the state to actually see and confirm for themselves, the transformational and aesthetic metamorphosis which is not just taking place all over the state, but opening up and interconnecting the entire state into one cohesive entity.
Lagos State has often served as a reference index in developmental analysis, but many will agree that, despite the impressive strides it has achieved, there is still the excruciating hardship and suffering of endless and frustrating traffic gridlock, because of the absence of well structured roads and bridges network, thus leading to uncontrollable congestion on the few alternative outlets out of the city.
This is exactly what the Rivers State Government, already conscious of the traffic build-up that overwhelms critical points of the city even now, is taking concrete and proactive measures to address and resolve in future, with the construction of the flyovers.
In addition to easing the traffic tension, the projects are also mainstreaming youth empowerment and skill acquisition for indigenous engineers, apart from generating employment and empowering local contractors.
For instance, 20 indigenous engineers would be trained by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC during the contract period as part of government’s policy on youth empowerment and skill acquisition and that is just the initial projection. The prospects had been more expansive and comprehensively favourable, if not for the Coronavirus outbreak that has drastically impeded robust operations and activities.
There is definitely no doubt that Governor Wike is building for the future. The capital city and territory is expanding rapidly and population explosion with its attendant challenges in a burgeoning commercial hub, which almost every part of the State is gradually transforming into with the brilliant economic module of strategically concessioning major government-owned assets to willing and capable private investors, is a critical futuristic component that must be addressed today.
Governor Nyesom Wike is a promise keeper and he has kept his promises, worked hard and achieved so much more with far less resources, provided first-class socio-economic infrastructure and kept the State and businesses safe and secure, despite the unexpected outbreak of Covid-19 and the contrived attempts to frustrate and create diversionary situations, both by internal and external forces. Indeed, the administration has remained firm and focused on this progressive trajectory with a pledge to recommit to work harder and deliver greater development to Rivers people.
Like Governor Wike himself said in his first year, second term address to Rivers people on May 29, 2020: “We know it is not going to be easy given the very poor state of the national economy and the spinoff effects on ours. But, tough times like this call for unity of thought, unity of purpose and unity of actions; believing in ourselves and in our ability to overcome all the challenges that confront us as a State and as a people”.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
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