Still Begging For Attention
Before now, Kano State could boast of a number of industries both national and multinationals. Such multinational companies that established their presence in the state included: former Lever Brothers, Paterson Zechories, PZ; WJ Bush; AJ Seward; Johnson Wax among others. The state was also a home to Dunlop, Michelin, Haco, Berger Paints and Union Carbide as well as a number of indigenous manufacturing companies. In all, about 158 companies existed in Kano State, which provided jobs for thousands of school leavers and other unemployed.
These were the good old days. Today, most of these companies have closed shop throwing thousands of their former workers into the labour market. This has been blamed partly on lack of raw materials, epileptic power supply and poor patronage. Most of these companies were run with diesel procured at great cost, which shot up the cost of production and subsequently made their products unable to compete with imported ones.
Mostly affected were the textile industries. Though most of these industries were established in Kaduna, the Nigeria Textile Manufacturers and the Nigerian Suiting Manufacturing Company in Kano equally faced meltdown. They were among textile companies in the country which the Olusegun Obasanjo government planned to resuscitate with the N70 billion intervention fund. Unfortunately, this money was not provided and the industries continue to be comatose.
National president of National Harmonised Traders Union of Nigeria, NHTUN, Alhaji Bature Abdulazeez, decried the failure of government to fulfill the promise but said the policy was programmed to fail because government did not plan how the money should be disbursed. "Such monies could have either been put in wrong hands or given to textile producers who would refuse to utilise it according to plan," Abdulazeez added.
Other government measures to breathe life to the companies such as ban on the importation of foreign textile materials to boost local production could not perform the magic.
Alhaji Muhammad Gambo Dan Pass who deals in textile products also doubted the intention of the federal government to reactivate the textile sector or revamp cotton production.
Dr. Danburan Abubakar Nuhu, Kano State commissioner for commerce and industry, told this magazine that the state government has plans to resuscitate some of these industries. Nuhu explained that part of the plan was to ensure steady and adequate power supply, which necessitated the setting up of a committee, under the chairmanship of the state deputy governor, to explore ways of sourcing for power generation in the state. He disclosed that the state government has proved the sum of N582 million for commerce, industry and tourism, part of it would go for the reactivation of closed industries.
Investigation by this magazine however revealed that this is not the first time the state government will make budgetary provision for commerce and industry. Shortly before the last election, the sum of N1.3 billion was said to have been provided to the commerce and industry ministry by the immediate government. But most closed industries in the state have not come back to life.
The greatest problem facing the industries is electricity. The immediate past administration in the state was said to have committed huge sums of money as counterpart funding for the establishment of independent power project, IPP, which is yet to matrialise. The administration however, was able to expand its partnership with some selected multinational companies such as PZ, Nigeria Bottling Company and Starcoms. The partnership was to empower 6000 persons through capacity building and provision of State Economic Empowerment Development, SEED, capital as contained in 2010 budget. Contrary was however, the case. Investigation again showed that nobody was able to secure attachment slot in any of these companies nor employed by them.