Nigeria restates commitment to revive local fabrics

Luqmon Balogun, Lagos

The Creative Director, Luzol Global link, Mr. Austin Aimankhu (left) and Representing Minister of Information and Culture, Mrs. Grace Gekpe, at the joint media briefing.

The Nigerian government has restated its commitment to ensure enabling environment for the local textile industry across the country.

The move is to allow the sector generate more funds to the national coffer and accomplish the economic diversification drive of the President Buhari-led government.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Muhammed made the statement at a joint press briefing in Lagos, on the Wear Nigeria Campaign,” a programme organised in collaboration with ‘FashionArtfusion’, owned by Luzol, one of the foremost fashion designers in Nigeria.

“Government’s responsibility is to create enabling environment for local textile industry to thrive in order to allow our local fabrics gain more prominence. And the current administration is not leaving any stone unturned in this regards,” the Minister said

Mr. Muhammed, who was represented by the Director of Entertainment and Creative Services Department of the Ministry, Mrs. Grace Gekpe said government was working towards ensuring a conducive investment environment for businesses to thrive across the country.

Creating awareness
The Minister said that the Wear Nigeria” project was to spread the awareness of patronizing the local products in the local government areas of Nigeria.

He stated that government would leverage the large population and diverse culture of the country for this to be achieved.

He said: “We realised that FashionArtfusion’ was one of the best platforms to promote our indigenous fabrics because it has a home grown project with more emphasis on Nigerian Art and Culture and Nigeria with about 774 local government areas, LGA and in every LGA, there is something unique about their core local fabrics which would be explored.”

He explained that the campaign was a way to empower the grassroots, promote locally made products and use dress sense to project the nation’s potentials in tourism.

Celebrating Art
In his remarks, the Creative Director of Luzol, Austin Aimankhu said the essence of ‘FashionArtfusion’ was to celebrate the nation’s Art and Culture.

According to him, “it’s not just a regular fashion show.  It’s a marriage of Fashion, Drama, Dance, Spoken words which was geared towards using a popular Art form to promote the less known Art form.”

 “What we want to do is to take some pilot states such as Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Ogun and Kwara States and conduct research on the local fabrics in the states, get some local weavers together, understand what they are doing and at the end of the day, get their fabrics to be on the runway show in November this year.”

Local empowerment
Mr Aimankhu maintained that larger parts of fabrics in Nigeria are imported, stressing for the need attention on local weavers.

“About 90 percent of fabrics used in Nigeria are imported with 80 percent smuggled and this had led to the moribund of the sector.  Another thing worthy of note is the local weavers. If you go to places like Abia, Ogun among others, there are many local weavers unnoticed.”

 “It is the whole value chain, the clothes you wear is the end product. There is a cotton producer, weaver, fashion designer before getting to the shelve, where you buy them, so we want to partner with the government to develop the textile industry to empower the local weavers,” he said.

Mr. Aimankhu explained that many Nigerians are not aware of their local fabrics because of their quest for foreign goods.

He said the idea was to make Nigeria’s fabric a brand.

“If you go to Ghana today and pick up the Kente fabrics, the whole world can connect with it and identify Ghanians as the owners of Kente. The Ghanians carry Kente with pride. Most of Nigerians don’t know the fabrics we have and I know when Nigerians know the fabrics and know what can be done with them, they will patronise them.”