Why Nigeria’s Textile industry collapsed – Odedokun

Retired Textile Technolo­gist, Pa David Odedokun, foresaw the collapse of the textile industry at the Western Nigeria Textile Mill, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, where he was the Maintenance Engineer in 1976. He told Daily Times the genesis of the indus­try’s problems among other factors. GBUBEMI GOD’S COVENANT SNR reports.

What the textile industry is about

The textile industry is a massive labour intensive organ­isation. If you want to solve prob­lems of unemployment, youth restiveness, drugs and crime, then revive all the textile industries; and if you want to saturate Nige­ria with job opportunities even for non-Nigerians, add more textile industries; and I will tell you why:

A textile mill embodies three complete factories: the spinning, weaving and finishing; and each can stand as a corporate entity. º

You can do weaving alone with­out spinning. You can do spinning alone and sell the threads to the factory, and the factory can just buy the fabric from the spinner and concentrate on finishing it.

Textile industry stabilises a na­tion by bridging the gap between the very rich and the very poor, and this is how:

The industry runs in shifts and, in one shift alone, like Afprint, for example, one shift employed 2,000 workers, and they run three shifts that continue non-stop; that is a workforce of 6,000 from one com­pany alone. And mark you, the 6000 figure does not include man­agement and administrative staff, not to talk of expatriate staff.

Although they were not too well paid, but trust the Nigerian citi­zen: once they have a job, they do it with all joy and responsibility.

Raw materials:

Cotton is the life of the textile industry, and we had lots of it in the Northern states. Though they didn’t meet textile demands 100 percent, but we imported a negli­gible percentage from Niger, Cam­eroun, and Central African Repub­lic to make up the balance.

But our local cultivation of cot­ton stopped; now there is no cotton in Nigeria anymore and reason was and still is oil.

Cotton requires labour to plant, harvest and market, but since oil ushered in very quick money, peo­ple don’t want hard labour any­more. When local source stopped feeding cotton to the industry, the effect was like a stroke that struck a mobile and thriving industry: we couldn’t get essential raw material to produce because oil money was everywhere.

So at the beginning of the oil boom, textile industries were forced to be importing 100 percent cotton, and that was a major prob­lem.


Power is the spirit of the textile industry and that is a major issue in Nigeria. When we started run­ning the entire production line on diesel, the consumption of diesel was unfavourable.

Was there ever a solution to power problem?

There was, but government policies didn’t allow it. When fac­tories wanted to invest on solar energy, the government policy on NEPA didn’t permit it. If compa­nies had been allowed to obtain loan from government to invest in solar, it would have been the way out. Although the solar capital may be huge in the beginning, but immediately it is done, produc­tion is guaranteed; employment is guaranteed; market control is guaranteed and before long the companies will break even and ev­erybody would be better for it.

Nigeria supplies electricity to Republic of Benin?

Nigeria supplies power to Re­public of Benin, Niger and Togo because there is a long standing agreement. The problem with us is here, not in those countries.


Lack of electricity was the ma­jor problem that killed the nylon extruding business in Nigeria. I was in that business too. All the resins were imported from Asian countries.

The refineries in Warri, Ka­duna, and Port Harcourt all have petrochemical industries attached to them, but even as a by-product, they were not producing enough.

Power is the major and No. 1 reason the nylon extruding com­panies stopped. I have a giant gen­erator, but I cannot use it because of the cost of diesel. I had to buy a smaller generator because, if I buy N200 fuel, it can give me al­most three or four hours of light; and I cannot run it overnight, so I put it off when I am going to bed. It is not easy. That is what govern­ment has reduced us to.


Power is the solution. A clean, God-fearing and honest leadership is the solution. Government sold NEPA and Nigerians are worse off. They stopped producing res­ins, cotton, raw materials for our factories and Nigerians are worse off.

The population of jobless youths and middle aged people in all the cities in the North, East, West and Middle Belt of this coun­try is frightening.

So the No. 1 solution is power. The No. 2 solution is power and No. 3 solution is also power, be­cause if there is power, Nigerians are hardworking people; they will fend for themselves and never rely on government.

Nigerians have never relied on government and that’s why they have problems now because they cannot get power to fend for them­selves.

A tailor cannot sew without power; the barbing salon that en­gages young school leavers and jobless graduates cannot survive without power. The hairdresser, carpenter, business centres, eater­ies, even pure water factories and vendors, etc., all need power to do their businesses. Every govern­ment in Nigeria has failed in solv­ing the power problem.

Government policies

Nigerian government policies always look good on paper. When they announce it, you will be danc­ing, but they don’t implement it, just like policy on education, ag­ric, child rights law, and others.

Textile industry in early times enjoyed protection from Federal Government through the ban on imported textile products, but when the same government un­banned importation, trouble start­ed, and it is the big men in govern­ment that go to China, Indonesia, and other Asian countries and continue importing those goods into Nigeria because they make their money.

So with the influx of finished textile goods from China and Asia which are substandard but cheap­er, Nigerian Textile Mills could no longer produce and break even, even though ours were superior in quality.

Those countries use their ex­port to Nigeria to boost their for­eign exchange, but Nigerians are not interested in building up for­eign exchange; everyone wants everything for their own pocket to the detriment of the national economy.

Uncommon taste for foreign goods:

Then Nigerians have a culture of preferring foreign goods, so they ignore our products and buy imported ones. Because of that mentality, about 16 years ago, after the textile industries finish their products in Nigeria, they take them to Republic of Benin, then our people will go there, buy and bring them here as imported prod­ucts.

That culture is still with us to­day. Such thinking stems from inferiority complex and lack of patriotic spirit.

Now we have Dettol, soaps and tyres made in Ghana, and match­es, made in Cotonou, etc. Even pineapple is brought from Coto­nou.

Traders say if you take Cotonou pineapple, or pawpaw, you will re­member the natural taste of those fruits; the ones harvested from Nigerian soil are just chemicals, genetically modified (GM) crops polluted more with fertilizers.

Nigerian women even buy palm oil from Cotonou because they say it is natural, of high quality; though expensive, but they prefer it.

Now palm oil in Nigeria is sold in sachets like powdered milk! Everything imported into Nige­ria is fake, adulterated, and junk. Things they don’t need abroad, they ship them to Nigeria. It is the result of inconsistent policies op­erated by a government that is not thinking of the good of the people.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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