Emefiele: We’re Investigating Accounts of Individuals, Companies Involved in Smuggling of Textiles

Godwin Emefiele
  •  Says probe being extended to 42 other items restricted from FOREX
  •  Violators’ names to be publicized, blacklisted by banks

Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said the CBN is currently gathering data and investigating the accounts of individuals and corporates currently involved in smuggling and dumping textile materials in Nigeria.

In his remarks at the official flag off of the distribution of seeds and other inputs to cotton farmers in Katsina on Monday, the CBN governor also said the investigation was being extended to the 42 other items restricted from FOREX in Nigeria.

Emefiele disclosed that, “After our investigations, the names of these individuals and companies will be publicized and let me assure everyone that these individuals and companies will be blacklisted and all the banks in Nigeria shall be barred from conducting any banking business with the companies, their owners and top management.”

Commenting on the strategic importance of the textile industry, Emefiele said: “… As some of you are aware, in the 70’s and early 80’s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills in operation, this industry employed over 450,000 people. The textile industry then, represented close to 25% of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. Beyond the jobs created in the factories, this industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states, thousands of ginnery workers who processed the cotton from farmers, and a large number of distributors that sold the finished cloths to consumers.

“The sector supported the clothing needs of the Nigerian populace, as our markets were filled with locally produced textiles from companies such as Kaduna Textiles Mill, United Textiles, Supertex Limited, International Textile Industry (I.T.I), Texlon, Enpee and Aswani Mills amongst several others. The cloths produced in these factories were highly sought after not only in Nigeria, but in West Africa and indeed in Great Britain. At one point, our industries produced close to half of the cotton cloth in all of West Africa.

“It is no secret that the past 20 years have been very difficult for the cotton, textiles and garment sector. Farmers and Processors have had to deal with low quality seeds, rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost of running factories, smuggling of textile goods, and poor access to finance. Smuggling of textiles goods alone is also estimated to cost the nation over $2.2bn annually.

“Today, due to the unfortunate activities of smugglers and dumpers, most of the factories mentioned above have all stopped operations, as only 25 textile factories are operating today, and the workforce in Nigeria’s textile industry presently stands at less than 20,000 people. In addition, a large proportion of our clothing materials are now being imported from China and countries in Europe.”

Emefiele said that with a population of over 190 million people, Nigeria clearly stands out as a virgin market that must be tapped.

“If we are serious or determined in our drive to create jobs on a mass scale and reduce youth restiveness in Nigeria, the cotton, textiles and garments industry cannot be ignored. Consequently, the current trend where all our textile materials are imported from abroad must stop. It also means that, we must all join hands to fight and destroy all attempts by unscrupulous persons and companies to continue to smuggle and dump textile and garments into Nigeria,” he added.

He further said “in considering the role which this sector plays in our economic development, we must not just consider the fact of productivity but also, we must view the sector from the standpoint that their existence helps in sustaining the vitality of the neighborhoods in which they operate. With the death of these industries, came a rise in unemployment, insecurity and other negative social vices.”

Emefiele recalled that on assumption of office as CBN governor in June 2014, he indicated in his inaugural speech that one of his key objectives as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was to build a people focused Central Bank.

He said in addition to a focus on key macroeconomic concerns such as lower inflation and exchange rate stability, he believed that the Central Bank ought to play a more important role in supporting Nigeria’s economic development, given the constraints faced by rural farmers, SMES and Manufacturing companies.

“More importantly, we believe that CBN’s intervention which is aimed at import substitution will help in conserving scarce foreign exchange for Nigeria . As a result, under the leadership and support of President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), we have placed considerable emphasis on addressing impediments to the growth of Nigeria’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors, as both sectors represent over 52% of Nigeria’s GDP,” he said.

Speaking further, he said “If we are able to drive productivity gains in these sectors, it will undoubtedly translate to higher growth rate for the broader economy, result in increased rural incomes, and improvements in living standards for a majority of Nigerians.”

He noted that the over 60 percent drop in crude oil prices between 2015 – 2017 and its attendant effects on economic growth, inflation and external reserves, provided further impetus on the need for the CBN to support measures that will drive productivity in critical sectors of the economy, while also weaning our economy from its reliance on proceeds from the sale of crude oil.

Commenting on the flag off, he said, “This launch today represents a milestone event being part of the measures the CBN along with other stakeholders such as the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), have embarked upon in order to revive Nigeria’s Cotton, Textiles and Garments Sector. “

The CBN governor commended the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, “for his tireless effort in supporting the continued growth and development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.”

He also thanked Katsina StateGoernor Aminu Masari,

for his continued partnership with the CBN in order to harness the immense potentials of the cotton and textiles Industry in Katsina State.