By Davidson Iriekpen
The federal government has granted licence to the Cross River State Garment Factory to export its products.
This follows the export registration certificate to the state Governor, Senator Ben Ayade in Carlsbad, United States, at the weekend by the Executive Director/CEO of Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo.
Awolowo who was represented by the regional coordinator of the council, Babatunde Flake, said the organisation’s major interest was to put the factory on the export platform as “the multiplier effect of this garment factory is so much as a lot of accessories can come out from here.
“I am excited to say that you have formidable trainees who are smart to learn. All that you see here were designed by them with little supervision after demonstration.”
Continuing, Awolowo said: “We constituted this team, believing that they will be sustained, continue to work together and dictate the pace for the rest of the factory. “We want them to set the standard internationally and the focus will not just be the local market but ultimately export, taking advantage of the African Growth And Opportunity (AGOA).” On her part, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa described the export-licensed garment factory as a pride to the state and nation, having engaged a large number of widows.
She said the factory has the capacity to not only turnaround the economy of the state but also capable of filling the vacuum created by the loss of the state’s oil wells.
“Because it is now set for export, it will turnaround the economy of this state. Most times we cry over the loss of oil wells but Ayade came, never cried over the loss and went on. This is a confirmation of his earlier statement that Cross River is not a poor state as with this, we will not be poor any longer,” Ita-Giwa assured.
“I think there are more reasons for Ayade to come back than Ayade not to come back,” she added in apparent reference to the governor’s re-election bid. Reacting to the development, an elated Ayade was full of gratitude to the federal government.
“Having trained our people, we have reached a point of maturity and it is against that maturity that we receive this certificate today. We, therefore, on behalf of the government and people of Cross River State, thank the federal government and NEPC for assisting us get to the export level that we are today,” he said.
While enjoining local patronage of the garment factory, the governor said: “When you are creating an export market for us, please look at the domestic market. The Nigeria Customs, Immigration, Civil Defence, Army, the police, NYSC – the list is endless. We have the capacity to meet both local and international markets,” adding that “NEPC has made us real proud and has given us the international footing.”
Disclosing that he was celebrating the authorisation with mixed feelings, Ayade said: “If Ghana can do 35,000 T-shirts a day and Sri Lanka, with a population of 20 million people can do $1.5 billion turnover of garments alone, it will be a shame that today, Nigeria, indeed a giant of Africa has no garments to export.”
He stressed the need for relevant stakeholders to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), in ensuring that the Cross River Garment Factory reaches the American market as well as take the portion of market which Ethiopia and Ghana are fast taking over so as to place food on the tables of the citizenry.
The garment factory is one of Governor Ayade’s industrial revolutions.