Our priority is to create more jobs, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday restated his administration’s priority – job creation

“The priority of our administration is to create as many jobs as possible”, the President told representatives of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers (NUGTW) led by the union’s President, John Adaji, when they visited him at the State House, Abuja.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said the Federal Government demonstrated this with the deployment of resources into agriculture, mining and job-creating sectors in the last four years.

Adesina said the President lamented that the closure of textile factories, especially in the North, gave rise to crimes.

He was quoted as saying: “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.”

Promising that his administration would sustain the priority in the years ahead, he said: “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.”

The textile and garmenting sector, he noted has the potential to creating millions of jobs.

Referring to his recent directive to all government-owned uniform-wearing institutions to patronise locally-produced garments, President Buhari said many jobs would be created when the military, police, para-military organisations including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) patronise local industries.

He urged state governments to buy into this policy for their schools, hospitals and others

On the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which Nigeria recently signed, President Buhari 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.”

Speaking on behalf of the union, its General Secretary 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 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 (CBN) and the Executive Order on the use of local garments.

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.

President Buhari was decorated as the Life Patron of the Union in appreciation of his textile-friendly efforts.

Speaking with reporters at the State House, Adaji said: “There are three things that actually brought us here. First, we came to congratulate Mr. President after his well-deserved victory and it’s historic to note that probably this is the first time that leadership of our great union is paying such a visit to a sitting president. So, it’s remarkable.

“Secondly, we realised also that we have a President that we can call a working president as far as the evidences in the ground shows that he is committed, he has the passion for the textile industry and the manufacturing sector in general and what he is doing recently. Most especially through Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele; it’s so marvelous and we can see some lights coming after somethings we have been going through.

“We are seeing some positive development, especially through the Executive Order 003 that he gave. The CBN governor is equally managing the TGT policy very well and we are here to commend him and to equally remind him that besides this good work that is going on there are other little things that can delay us in the movement from where we are now to those old good days.”

On the full implementation of the new national minimum wage, Adaji said: “We are not just textile members, we are an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), I myself, a NEC member and it’s the same thing with our own amiable General Secretary will duel on that. As a member of the NLC, it’s a struggle that he equally particularly belonged to the committee of salaries and wages commission.

“So, it is an issue that we cannot… and the emphasis that until the people are well paid, the purchasing power cannot be there to buy the print that we produce. So we are appreciated and commended the president for signing that bill into law.”

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