COVID-19: Preventing Person-to-Person Spread in Nigeria and the Place of Textiles and Garments Sector

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President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has assurance of the cotton, textiles and garments sector of the Nigerian economy to partner with his Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and other supporting committees including the National Economic Council’s Special Committee on fight against the globally ravaging pandemic in the country.

This assurance, which is a yet another boost to the administration’s efforts as it continues to get support from the organized private sector towards growing the economy and making lives better for the people, was made by the Nigeria Textiles and Garments Manufacturers Association (NTGMA), which said the pandemic can be stopped in no time if appropriate measures are taken in augmenting the sensitization programmes ongoing.

Findings showed that the textiles and garments organized sector in Nigeria has more than 70 companies which, despite having grown themselves to the big strengths they currently have, are being underutilized.

Membership of the association has between 50 to 1,000 machines with capacity to generate employment to over three million Nigerians whose jobs are more required especially now that there is lockdown in major economic nerve centres of the country sewing and producing Nose Masks and Doctors’ Scrubs for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and entire people of the country.

The companies, which have come under the umbrella of NTGMA headed by the Director General Alhaji Hamma Kwajaffa, says they are ready to partner with government in fighting this pandemic in their own way.

They are saying that the good work that the President Buhari has started has come to a time in the fight against Coronavirus, depending on how it is fought the Nigeria’s own way like China did and is still doing in its own way making it a world model today, when he can showcase the good work to the rest of the world and that it is diversification in the real sense of it.

The DG NTGMA, Alhaji Hamma Kwajaffa, said: “We have more than 70 garments industries in the country. They have the capacity. Empower the local industries to ensure that our workers are not retrenched. We are talking about Nigeria Textiles and Garments Association among which membership is a garment factory that has 1,000 machines with over 2,000 workers and others.”

Nigeria Textile and Garment Manufacturers Association (NGTMA) member companies include Sunflag Nig Ltd, United Nigeria Textile Ltd, Adhama Textile, on the textile section, while its member garment manufacturing companies include MTC Garments Nig Ltd, Crown Natures Nigeria Plc, One Stop Celebration – OSC, Vintage Colette and Co Ltd, Ruff & Tumble, Sam & Sara Nig Ltd.

Statistically, Coronavirus crisis may take up to three months to start declining and five months for most day-to-day operations to fully resume within Nigeria. However, wearing reusable 100 percent cotton masks can be provided to the people by government if they award the job to the Textile and Garment industries in Nigeria.

Investigations revealed that China, Nigeria’s friend’s industries have boosted their mask production by more than 450 percent with an output of more than eight million masks daily. This, it was further gathered, strategically tilts the world to source from them, inevitably boosting their economy.

It can therefore be better imagined what Nigeria will look like in the international economy and political relevance, if the Nigerian textile and garment industries get support from the government for production and strategically position the country for domestic and export opportunities while oil prices continue to fall.

The government will not just gain only economically but also in helping its citizens with protection against further spread of the disease.

Findings showed that Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele’s policy implementation of President Buhari government’s vision and mission is to make the Nigeria truly self-reliant which has been exemplified in the economic diversification via holistic investment in cotton, textile and garments. At this level, it will look like sabotaging this laudable vision of the government being hugely invested in by the CBN governor, if the cotton, textile and garment sector of the economy is left out, particularly at a time that the nation needs to use its own strength to achieve its goal in this fight against the dangerous virus and in times after. They should key into that policy of the government.

Had this not been done by the government, despite huge oppositions, Nigerians would be in hell by now, as the lack of food and many other daily needed materials which production the government has backed would have made life difficult for the people. These were words of some of the respondents asked to speak on the matter.

Their stake, really, is that they want cotton, textile and garment industry to grow by patronizing the Nigeria Textiles and Garments Manufacturers Association’s products. Moreover, they do not want their people to die over avoidable situation which can be prevented through a policy decision of the need for everyone to wear and use NTGMA masks.

In a nutshell, what the association wants to do is to ensure that government policy protects local garments industries. They are saying that they can be a very dependable ally in the fight against the virus with the Presidential Task Force, if given the opportunity to partake.

The needs in the country are mainly two: pharmaceuticals and protective wears. The wears can be done in Nigeria. There are many garments industrialists here who are doing these things. What Nigerians people need here is not surgical but a mask to prevent person-to-person transmission. Local manufacturers should be encouraged to produce these nose masks that will be protective of people from contacting the disease.

And, furthermore, let there be maximum support for textiles and garments industries locally for them to save Nigerians from further endangerment possible from such sensitive materials imported, which obviously can be produced through these industries in the country.

In justifying his query of the idea of importation of nose masks, which is the biggest area that concerns the masses of the country, senior journalist asked: “How for instance is America with daily skyrocketed number of confirmed cases and deaths going to bring in its own plane to come and evacuate its citizens from Nigeria where, God willing the effort of government and our weather has stabilized the number of death and confirmed cases have not been at scary level when there is government policy of lockdown in those two cities of Lagos and Abuja in effect?

“Is there any country which national policy is better than our own national policy? Why should a country like America say it is going to fly its evacuation plane into our air space to evacuate its citizens from a country with less cases against its own with skyrocketed cases in terms of deaths and others? They must have a motif and Nigeria must watch its guard by making sure that its own local producers of nose masks and every other materials needed which the textiles and garments industries represent activated to take up the jobs. Even our doctors and pharmaceuticals have proved energy. Why not look inwards within our medicals to find our own solution?” He asked.