By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, in Abuja, pledged the commitment of his administration to restore the ‘good old days’ when the cotton and textile industry employed hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
The president, according to his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, made the pledge while receiving the Chief Executive Officer of Vlisco Group, David Suddens, at the Presidential Villa.
He also said Buhari welcomed the proposed investment of $200 million by the company in Nigeria, which, he said in turn, would create 700,000 jobs.
Adesina quoted Buhari as saying, “I am very much aware of your company’s effort especially your investments in the textile industry, and it is one area that we are trying to develop because it will create employment and boost agriculture.
‘’To get cotton to grow again in the country is like going back to the good old days when the textile industry used to employ more than hundreds of thousands of people.
‘’I am very excited about the prospects of reviving the industry because it will keep farmers busy, create employment which brings more security, help the economy, transfer of technology and of course we have a large market to absorb the products.”
Adesina also said the president reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to forging a stronger economic partnership with the Netherlands, assuring the Dutch investor that the Nigerian authorities would continue to do the utmost to keep smugglers at bay at borders.
Furthermore, he said Suddens in his remarks, told the president that the 172-year-old company had planned to use cotton grown in Nigeria for production.
‘’I want a new strategy that brings Vlisco manufacturing to Nigeria. I want to change the supply chain from Asia to Nigeria.
‘’For the total supply chain for cotton, textile and garment industry from weaving, spinning, printing to retail, we want to use Nigeria cotton and we have already started to encourage the creative industries in the country to find a voice and give them a platform across the world.
‘’I am convinced that it is time for the textile industry to move from Asia to Africa, ‘’ he quoted Suddens as saying.
In the same vein, the statement said the Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria, Robert Petri, told Buhari that the company’s visit was a follow-up to his successful visit to the Netherlands in July, during which he met with Chief Executive Officers of Dutch companies.
‘’Also during that visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between our two countries seeking more intensified cooperation. After that visit, there were more successive visits by top Dutch officials to Nigeria.
‘’This shows that we are seriously committed to furthering our collaboration,’’ the statement quoted Petri as saying.