President Muhammadu Buhari said Tuesday in Abuja that the priority of his administration “is to create as many jobs as possible.”
Speaking at an audience with the National Executive Council of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers led by its President, Comrade John Adaji, at the State House, the president said in the last four years, the Federal Government deployed limited resources to job-creating sectors like agriculture and mining.
Lamenting the closure of textile factories especially in the North which gave rise to crimes, the president said: “We promoted policies that will support local industries such as import restrictions. We introduced programmes that provided affordable and accessible capital to both large and cottage industries. We also introduced Executive Orders that encouraged the procurement of Made in Nigeria goods and services.”
The president said the administration would continue to support the above policies and programmes in the years ahead.
“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,” he said.
He said the textile and garmenting sector has the potential to create millions of jobs and would remain one of the priority sectors for the administration.
Referring to his recent directive to all government uniformed institutions to use locally produced garments, the president said unbelievable number of jobs would be created when the military, police, para-military organisations including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), fully patronise local industries.
He urged state governments to buy into this policy for their schools, hospitals and other institutions.
On the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which Nigeria recently signed, the president said: “We have developed a comprehensive strategy to fully optimise the benefits with necessary safeguards in place. Our priority remains to create jobs in Africa for Africans using a large proportion of African raw materials.”
In his remarks, General Secretary of the union, Comrade Issa Aremu, commended the president for being the first Nigerian leader to grant the 41-year-old body an audience, and making the revival of the textile industry a campaign topic.
Bemoaning 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 also saluted the textile-friendly policies of the administration such as the interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Executive Order on the use of local garments by uniformed organisations among others.
Pledging to support the administration to “keep our youths out of the streets,” the union urged that the incidence of smuggling be checked in order to maximise the job-creating benefits of the textile industry.
The president was decorated as the Life Patron of the textile union in appreciation of his textile-friendly efforts.