BY OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos; ABDULLAHI YAKUBU, Kano; ISAIAH BENJAMIN, Kaduna; ACHOR ABIMAJE, Jos; ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, Port Harcourt; EMMANUEL MGBEAHURIKE, Owerri; KALU EZIYI, Umuahia; RICHARD NDOMA, Calabar; BERNARD TOLANI DADA, Uyo; and HEMBADOON ORSAR, Makurdi
Nigeria’s industrialisation quest has taken a major beating as all its once-thriving industrial estates have been abandoned and overgrown with weeds, worship centres, satellite campuses of some tertiary schools, event centres among others.
The development has caused massive job losses, non-payment of the entitlements of disengaged workers and loss of huge funds invested in the now moribund enterprises.
Investigation conducted by LEADERSHIP across the states of the federation showed that since the federal and state governments privatised and commercialised the companies owned by, the new owners or investors have not been able to sustain or keep them afloat.
In Kano alone, LEADERSHIP gathered that231 manufacturing companies have been shut down by their owners who cited harsh operating environment both in the state and other parts of the country as reason for their action.
In neighbouring Kaduna State, it was gathered that 13 textile companies, which employed over 3,000 workers, are no longer in production in the last two or more decades and have sent their members of staff home. The situation is not different in Plateau State where the giant firms such as the Jos Steel Rolling Mill and Jos International Breweries (JIB) have packed up, leading to the loss of 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The worst hit industrial estates are in Lagos State, where only a pocket of companies are still operating from the numerous manufacturing complexes spread across the state.
Instead of manufacturing concerns dotting the complexes, the industrial hubs are now occupied by largely rodents, worship centres, schools and event centres.
The machines and equipment once used for massive production by the previous occupants of the estates have all taken a new colour – brown, a sign of rust.
About 30 to 40 years ago, these industrial estates were bubbling with life, but as operating environments became tougher, coupled with dilapidated infrastructure, the companies had to seek greenery pasture elsewhere, especially, in neighbouring countries.
The overall poor business climate, the high-interest rate, monetary policy, poor electricity, bad road network and insecurity in the locations, among others, were factors that have made the estates shadows of their old selves.
The major industrial estates in Lagos are Ikeja, Agidingbi, Amuwo Odofin (industrial), Apapa, Gbagada, Iganmu, Ijora, Ilupeju, Matori, Ogba, Oregun, Oshodi/Isolo/Ilasamaja, Surulere (light industrial) and Yaba. Some free trade zones are also referred to as industrial clusters, Lekki Free Trade Zone.
For instance, the headquarters of the Dunlop Nigeria Plc, once a beehive of business activities, has become a ghost area. In Ikeja Industrial Estate, which used to house Michelin and Dunlop Tyres and the Nigerian Textile Mills, has been taken over by churches – Triumphant Christian Centre, The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Province 27 Headquarters.
Abimbola Street and its environs were the hub of the Lagos plastic industry between 1970 and 1990, when Aswani, a sub-industrial cluster in Isolo, was at the peak of its performance.
But for Johnson Wax Nigeria Limited, an insecticide maker, and dozens of warehouses, Abimbola Street would have no longer have a semblance of an industrial complex. The collapse of Femstar and Company (Limca and Gold Spot) and several other ventures has seemingly taken life out of the street. Similarly, Abimbola House itself, on the street, used to be a territory of many small-scale manufacturers, but now, a large portion houses a showroom belonging to Tecncool Nigeria Limited, a distributor of LG products, and several other marketing companies that are serviced by a branch of Wema Bank Plc, which is situated on the ground floor.
Similarly, in Ajao Estate, a neighbourhood in Oshodi/Isolo local government area, churches are also pushing industries to the edge. For instance, on Kolawale Shonibare, a street on the industrial arm of the estate where the likes of Eleganza Group once commanded a huge influence, The True Vine, a parish of RCCG, operates from a manufacturing plant that also accommodates three other trading companies.
Apapa Cluster in Lagos hosts some of the biggest manufacturers such as Dangote Sugar, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Honeywell, and Kneipe, among others. But it has been taken over by trucks hurrying to ferry fuel and imported products from Apapa and Tin Can ports. Trucks stay on Apapa bridges for weeks, and manufacturers in the cluster struggle to move their goods to the market.
In Iganmu Industrial Estate, except for the Nigerian Breweries Plc that keeps the area bubbling with manufacturing activities, the other areas have been taken over by churches.
At Oba Akran Industrial Estate, especially, on Oba-Akran Way, several banks, worship centres, service companies, office complexes have maintained their influence, although, the likes of Dangote Sacks, Guinness, Vitafoam, among others, have ensured that the mission of establishing the industrial hub, is not totally lost.
Industry watchers attributed the collapse of the sector to outages, transportation bottlenecks, crime and corruption. Nigerian manufacturing firms, they said, suffered acute shortage of infrastructure such as good roads, potable water, and, in particular, power supply.
The director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, said, “The industrial estates are not in good shape, there is no adequate investment in those estates, most of them have been neglected for years.”
He said in some of the estate, industrialists have to raise funds to construct roads leading to the factories as well as provide other facilities that an estate should have. However, for SMEs in the estates, he added that, the situation is even worse, saying, “they are not been properly taken care and if we are talking about supporting industry or manufacturing, having an industrial estate that is conducive for production is very important.”
Also, an economist, Dr Timi Olubiyi, said, “Perhaps, one major problem facing Nigeria today that has received little or no attention remains her low industrial base. Indeed, apart from South Africa and Egypt, both of which are outside tropical Africa, the contribution of manufacturing to the economy of Nigeria, places the country far behind the Newly Industrialising Countries (NICs) of the South East Asia.”
He noted that manufacturing in Nigeria has largely been dominated by a valorisation of raw materials and import-substitution type that are capital intensive rather than labour-intensive.
231 Manufacturing Companies Fold Up In Kano
In Kano State, the commissioner for commerce, Barrister Ibrahim Mukhtar, said the Technical Committee set up by the state government to look into the ailing Industries had concluded its work and submitted its report to the State Executive Council (SEC).
He said SEC had directed his ministry to produce a white paper to find lasting solutions to the moribund Industries.
According to him, the “2019 Industrial Survey” of the state, which is the latest, showed that there are over 825 manufacturing establishments in the state, of which 594 which are in operation while 231 are being closed down or have folded up.
Mukhtar said the figures in the Industrial Survey of 2014 indicated that there were 632 manufacturing industries in Kano while 390 were in operation which represented 26.5 per and the remaining 233 which represented 23.5 per cent had either been shut down.
The commerce commissioner said the aforementioned figures showed an increase from 632 in 2014 to 825 in 2019, an increment of 193.
He said all the manufacturing industries were located in Challawa, Sharada Phases 1, 11, and 111; Zaria Road, Rice Mill Clusters at Kwanar Dawaki, Incubation Centre on Hadejia Road while the Kano Free Trade Zone, Bompai Industrial Area, Dakata Small Scale are cited in Tokarawa Industrial Area.
He said the committee discovered that epileptic power supply, poor road network, water supply challenges, high traffic, poor financial windows from finance institutions and government, high interest rate to industrial sector as well as inadequate technical and management skills were the bane of the distressed industries.
7, 000 Jobs Lost As 13 Textiles Firms, Steel Rolling Mill, Others Close Shop In Kaduna, Plateau
When Kaduna Textile Limited (KTL) opened its doors to the general public in 1957, it was a significant event in Kaduna, the then capital of the Northern Protectorate. Its establishment was followed by several other large textile companies such as Nortex in 1962, United Nigerian Textiles Ltd (UNTL) in 1964 and Arewa Textiles in 1965. However, when in 2002, KTL went under, it was only a matter of time before Arewa Textiles and Nortex followed suite in 2005. The UNTL which closed shop in 2007 was later revived in 2010 and most recently, as the last textile company standing in Kaduna, laid off about 300 workers, giving a hint that the 56-year-old company may well be on its way to joining other moribund textiles industries.
In an effort to revive the moribund industry, the federal government instituted a N100 billion Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) bailout fund which is managed and disbursed by the Bank of Industry (BoI). Till date, however, the bailout fund is yet to bring the textile mills into optimal operation.
Some of the shut textile industries are Kaduna Textile Ltd (KTL), Arewa Textiles Plc, United Nigerian Textile Plc, Supertex, Nortex Nigerian Ltd and Finetex Nigerian Ltd. Others are Gaskiya Textiles Mill, Kano Textiles Ltd, Aba Textiles, Zamfara Textiles Ltd, Asaba Textiles Ltd, African Textile Mill Plc and Tofa Textiles.
According to the Coalition of Closed Unpaid Textiles Workers, Kaduna State chapter, more than 3,000 workers lost their jobs following the closure of the textiles industries.
When contacted, the chairman of the coalition, Comrade Wordam Simdik, said the number of ex-workers and family members who died as a result of the closure of the textiles companies and the non-payment of their benefits as at now is not less than 3,000.
“The recorded workers’ deaths which is as a result of lack of money for medical healthcare is over 1,500, while that of their beloved families stood at between 1,500 and 1600,” Simdik said.
The Bank of Industry said about N60 billion of the CTG fund had been disbursed to various beneficiaries under the same scheme.
“Over 60 per cent has been committed to 52 companies in the Cotton, Textiles and Garment Industry as at March 2013. The re-opening of United Nigeria Textiles Ltd in Kaduna is one of the numerous positive impacts of the scheme,” the bank stated on its website.
A former national president of the National Union Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers (NUTGTWN), Comrade Oladele Hunsu, said the textile industry in the 1980s used to be the second largest employers of labour after the federal government.
“But over the years, there was a steady decline in operations of the textiles and the eventual collapse of the industry, which has led to loss of jobs, dearth of skilled manpower, death of workers, low capacity utilisation and drop in government revenue due to lack of excise duties,” Hunsu said.
Also, a former secretary-general of the National Union of Textile Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and incumbent vice president IndustriaAll Global Union Africa, Comrade Issa Aremu said CTG policy, which was endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017 and already being implemented is a step in the right direction.
“Nigeria has now moved from cotton shortage to cotton sufficiency. Government has signed the Executive Order 3 to buy local fabrics. If the Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs, Civil Defence, FRSC and others are produced in Nigeria, many of the moribund textile industries will bounce back to life.
“The textile industry is the only way to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). Nigeria has no choice but to revive the textile industries to take advantage of the ACFTA. President Buhari has done his part, it’s now left for the state governors to get cracking and all the investors will be encouraged to come in and invest,” he said.
In Jos, Plateau State, the hitherto booming industries which created jobs for the people are now in a sorry state and served as houses to reptiles and hoodlums who have taken advantage of the situation to carry out criminal activities in the dilapidated structures.
The only companies that are still operating at full capacity on the industrial layout on old Airport Road are NASCO Groups and Vitafoam Plc.
Jos International Breweries Plc (JIB) producer of Rock and Class larger beer, Royal Malt has become comatose. JIB was established in 1975 by the Joseph Gomwalk administration with BARC Farm as one of its subsidiaries.
During the operation of the brewery, which got its raw materials mostly from the BARC Farm, huge revenue was generated from the firm leading to the establishment of another subsidiary, Pioneer Milling Company.
Before it was sold to a farmer for over 20 years ago, BARC Farm employed more than 4,000 direct and indirect workers.
The Ambassador of Denmark to Nigeria Jesper Kamp during a meeting with Governor Simon Lalong expressed his country’s readiness to work with state government to revive JIB and Brewery Agro and Research Company (BARC Farms).
Speaking with LEADERSHIP on what the state government is doing to revamp JIB, the commissioner for commerce and industry Hon. Abbey Aku said any time the state government buys shares or have shares in any firm, the Plateau Investment and Property Company Limited PIPC maintains the portfolio.
The managing director of PIPC Mr Chrys Yilzak said the state government is negotiating with Denmark Ambassador to Nigeria to help it revamp JIB.
In the same vein, the Jos Steel Rolling Mill which was established in 1980 to cater for the steel needs of the people in the North Central Zone is out of production.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the mill was sold to Jaden BV, an Ukranian firm operating as Zuma Steel West Africa Limited for N800 million an amount far below its market value.
The mill which had developed indigenous manpower, reduced steel importation, employed over 500 workers before 2005 when over 450 members of staff were laid off as a result of the federal government’s privatisation policy, had its last production in 2004.
The president of Plateau Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture (PLACCIMA) Mr Da Bulus Dareng lamented that nobody is talking of economic development now because of insecurity in the country.
According to him, Nigerians are only interested in sharing money and doing the talking without actions, stressing that it was very important for shareholders to know that JIB generated a lot of employment and revenue during its hey days.
Mr Anja Emmanuel, a member of the committee of inspectors that liquidated the Jos Steel Rolling Mill and a former treasurer of the senior staff association, said right from the beginning due process was not carried out, lamenting that a company was sold for N800million.
Emmanuel said that there was an agreement with the liquidator that if after five years the co-investors do not make the place functional the federal government will revoke its sales, adding that “it is getting to 20 years and the place still remains deserted since it was sold in June 2005.”
At the premises of the Zuma Steel Complex, only three security dogs were seen in the compound barking while the gate was locked.
Only 42 of 180 companies in Calabar Free Trade Zone Operational
Findings by our correspondent revealed that 180 companies began operation at the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) at its inception 25 years ago.
Of this figure, 68 have closed shop or due to unfavourable government policies while only 42 companies are operations and 15 companies undergoing recapitalisation. There was no official explanation of what has become the fate of the remaining 55 enterprises.
At the abandoned premises of General Electric (GE), which almost became operational before it packed up, it was learnt that the company acquired the sites over 20 other smaller entities to enable it function.
Officials of the CFTZ refused to release information on the state of the firms as they demanded an official letter which must be approved by the director before they answer any questions from our correspondent.
Event Centres, Satellite Campuses, Others Acquire Factory Sites In Kwara
The sites of some moribund Kwara State-owned industries along Asa Dam Road, Ilorin, the state capital have been converted to other purposes like event centres and satellite campuses of some tertiary schools.
Two of the once thriving industries on Asa Dam Road included Kwara Textiles and Kwara Match Company (MATCHCO). Other moribund industries that were located elsewhere in Ilorin metropolis are Kwara Animal Feeds, Off Old Ilorin-Jebba Road, Kwara Furniture on Ilorin-Ajase-Ipo-Road and Tate & Lyle also located along Ilorin – Ajase-Ipo-road.
While Kwara Animal Feeds had been sold to PANAT Feeds, Kwara Furniture, now Kwara Ethnic Design has also been privatised with the state retaining some shares in it. The site of Tate & Lyle now houses Kwara State University (KWASU) School of Governance.
The director-general of Kwara State Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (KWACCIMA), Barr. Sulaiman Ayo Fagbemi, attributed the collapse of the companies to double taxation, poor power supply and the failure of the state government to grant the them bailouts during their trying period.
He listed private companies that had closed down operations in the state as Global Soap and Detergent, Ilorin, Okin Biscuits, Offa and Kwara Breweries, Ijagbo.
Fagbemi, who called for the resuscitation of the industries to provide jobs for the unemployed youths in the state, urged the state government to provide the enabling environment to ease the establishment of more industries in the state.
A former state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Umar Akanbi, said the closure of the state-owned industries was due to the absence of the enabling environment.
Residential Houses, Correctional School, Others Occupy Imo Industrial Layout
The quest by the first military administrator of Imo State, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu and the first civilian governor of the state, the late Sam Mbakwe, to industrialise the state has been jeopardised by the succeeding administrations as the roadmap and infrastructure put in place by them have been left to rot away.
The industrial layout located on Owerri-Onitsha Road which has been in existence for over 40 years was planned to house 250 industries.
However, the industrial layout had been abandoned and turned into residential area. The only Industries operating in the estate are Camels Vegetable Oil, Nigerian Bottling Company, Nigerian Correctional Service Training School, Nigeria Customs Service Warehouse.
Some of the Industries which did not survive in the layout are Standard Shoes, Aluminum Smelter Plant, Cotec Industries and Resin Paints.
The state chairman, Owerri Chambers of Commerce, Everest Okpara, identified lack of access roads, power supply and other incentives to investors as stumbling blocks to the development of Imo Industrial Estate and called on the state government to act fast.
The commissioner for commerce and industry Hon. Simon Ebegbulem said one of the cardinal programmes of the present administration is to revive the ailing industries.
Oil Firms Relocate From Trans Amadi Industrial Area In Rivers
The Trans Amadi Industrial Area in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was established in the 1960s by the defunct Eastern Nigeria.
The 1,000-hectare industrial layout (2,500 acres) as well as diverse residential neighborhoods is situated at 4°48’53” N latitude and 7°2’14” E longitude. The neighborhood supports a strong manufacturing sector. Materials such as glass bottles, tyres, aluminium and paper have production plants in the area.
Most of the original companies, which operated in the area, including Michelin, Chevron, Total, Halliburton, amongst others, have either closed shop or relocated their headquarters to Lagos citing insecurity for their action.
However, smaller companies, especially oil servicing companies, have taken over most of the abandoned complexes while others still remain unoccupied.
An entrepreneurial consultant, Uche Nwachukwu, said lack of constant power supply was one of the major reasons the companies abandoned the industrial area.
Nwachukwu said to revive the industrial area, there was the need for major government policies that would support private sector investment.
Multinational Firms Still Operate In Aba Industrial Layout
With the exception of the Golden Guinea Breweries Plc which returned to production two years ago and the now moribund Modern Ceramics Plc, Umuahia, the Abia State capital has no industrial layout.
The two enterprises are some of the legacies of the late premier of the defunct Eastern Region, Dr. Michael Okpara, and were the major employers of labour in the town, creating huge business opportunities for service providers.
At the Aba industrial layout which is in Aba North local government area, Nigeria Breweries (NBL) Plc, PZ Industries Plc, Nigeria Bottling Company Plc, Livestock Feeds Plc, and Vita Foam Plc among others are in full operation.
However, the International Equitable Association Industries & Commercial Ltd, (IEA), International Glass Industry Plc, Aba Textile Industry Plc (Abatex), which operated three shifts and Uniliver Plc have been shut for years.
While the Uniliver Plc Property is in the use of the NBL, the gates of the others are not only locked, but are manned by security guards, who claimed that their management plan to revive them.
7 Factories Pack Up In Akwa Ibom
In Akwa Ibom State, the ailing industries are not in an industrial estate but spread across the three senatorial districts of the state. Most of them have been abandoned for more than three decades and there are no serious efforts by the government to revive them.
LEADERSHIP, however, learnt that there are over seven moribund industries in the state.
Some of the companies are Sunshine Batteries in Essien Udim, Quality Ceramics in Itu, Qua Steel Industry in Eket, Plastocrown in Uyo, Biscuit Factory and the Abestonic Industry in Oron.
Most of the firms were established between 1979 and 1983 during the civilian administration of the late Dr. Clement Isong.
The president of Uyo Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Nse Ebong, who spoke on the negative impact of the moribund industries on the state economy and the people, said despite the government’s avowed commitment to industrialise the state, its indigenes, organized labour, student bodies and the civil society groups had the years called on successive governments to revitalise the plants.
Barrister Cliford Thomas of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) said in Uyo, the state capital that government has no business setting up and running commercial enterprises.
Pastor David Udo of Holy Ghost Assembly, Itam in Itui local government area said it would be unreasonable of government to think of revamping industries that have been abandoned for over 30 to 40 years.
Over 10 Industries In Benue Go Moribund
In Benue State, only the Benue Cement and Benue Investment and Property Company (BIPC), Benue Brewery, Ben Cola which were leased out to private firms that are functional.
The Taraku Mills which was established by the first civilian governor of the state, the late Aper Aku, to produce soy oil and animal feeds has been grounded.
Another Industry which was also established by Aku to make burnt bricks has collapsed.
The Wannune Tomatoe and Fruit Juice Factory established by the former governor of the state and incumbent minister of special duties and inter-governmental affairs, Senator George Akume, has also gone comatose. The Yam Processing Factory set up by the administration of Senator Gabriel Suswam did not work beyond the test run.
The managing director, Growrich Resources Ltd, managers of Taraku Mills, Mr. Ernest Jor, said the company is faced with the challenges of water and power supply as well as insufficient funds to sustain uninterrupted production. He appealed to the governor to assist the company to construct a dam to address the water situation.