DANGOTE TO FG: JAIL SELLERS OF SMUGGLED TEXTILES WITHOUT OPTION OF FINE
The President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has thrown his weight behind the clamour for the revival of Nigeria’s ailing textile and manufacturing sectors by urging the National Assembly to pass a law that would penalise sale of banned textiles materials by imprisoning culprits without any option of fine.
Dangote made call on Tuesday, in Lagos, while presenting the Second Adeola Odutola Lecture titled, “Agenda Setting for Industrialising Nigeria in the Next Decade,” in commemoration of the 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
He said: “For the textile industry, I think the government needs to formulate a law by the National Assembly that will say that anybody selling banned foreign textile must go to prison without an option of fine. So, it will be just going to jail even if it is just for two years.
“The real problem in the textile industry is not basically lack of cheaper power. If you give them cheaper power but allowed the smuggling to continue the textile will not last.
“What is happening is that foreign companies are using us (Nigeria) as a dumping ground. That is why I do not like to import. Anytime you import you will be importing poverty and exporting prosperity and job opportunities outside.”
He said government should apply the same force it mustered to enforce the ban on rice importation in the bid to end smuggling of textiles into Nigeria, adding that, “few decades ago textiles used to be the largest employer of labour after the federal government of Nigeria.”
Dangote, who is Africa’s richest man, also tasked the federal government on the implementation of its policies meant to protect the country’s industrial sector, especially textile manufacturing, without caring who would be offended.
He said as at today people would be sent to jail in India for selling foreign textiles anywhere.
“Also, if something is banned in the United States of America for example, there is no way it could be displayed for sale in a shop.
“But what is stopping the implementation of Nigeria’s government policies is the absence of the political will to make sure that we implement those policies no matter who is going to be upset by us,” Dangote said, adding that manufacturers should “meet with the government to find a lasting solution, especially now that government is desperate about job creation, to stamp out smuggling for our industries to stand. If we have a prosperous environment the insecurity will drop.”
He also said Nigeria should focus on enabling its manufacturing sector to achieve the following targets within the next 10 years.
“Nigeria needs to henceforth intensify efforts at promoting industrialisation with specific focus on the attainment of the following targets in the next 10 years: 15 per cent manufacturing growth; 20 per cent manufacturing contribution to the GDP; 15 per cent growth in export of manufactured products; 10 per cent increase in the share of manufacturing to total export machandise, stronger inter-industry linkage between SMEs and large corporations, improved manufacturing contribution to government tax revenue and 20 per cent increase in manufacturing employment,” he said.
Commenting on the comatose state of the country’s textile industry, the Founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi, ascribed the decline in textile manufacturing to bad trade policies.
Utomi said: “But to get straight to the point, the textile industry failed because of Nigeria’s trade policy. The lesson we shall take from this is that we should have a standing working group consisting of some real experts and manufacturers to put the government under pressure about its trade policies.
“I wonder if we still remembered that Nigeria Textile Limited (NTL) break even within one month of its operation in 1960. And in its first six months of production was exporting to Manchester, United Kingdom.
“So, why did the textile industry die? Because wrong trade policies where being made and there was not enough pressure to get the government to do the right thing.
“And the government people were not doing it out of wickedness but ignorance. So, we have to remember that Nigeria is our country and collectively we can get the experts, manufacturers and the government to sit together and plot our way.
“The global textile industry today is dominated by five firms. How can Nigeria align with them and provide incentives to them to make Nigeria their base? So that today we cannot be talking about jobs because the textile industry will be providing millions of jobs.”
The President of MAN, Mr. Mansur Ahmed, said in his welcome address that the choice of Dangote as the guest speaker for the lecture was, “clearly predicated upon our belief that only experienced industrialists are well equipped to do justice to the theme, visibly highlight essential advocacy issues, suggest workable solutions and point the sector to key industrial development agenda for the next ten year.”