The Federal Government has been severely criticised for awarding of N5 billion contract for the production of military and paramilitary uniforms to a Turkish firm, Sur Corporatewear.
A former presidential candidate and National Chairman, Nigeria for Democracy, Mendie Archibong bared his mind on the issue in an exclusive interview with The NEXT EDITION on Thursday.
Mr. Archibong held that the Turkish firm only specialises in the production of corporate attire and has never been involved in the production of military and paramilitary uniforms.
He expressed concern over the government’s planned investment of N5 billion in the foreign firm to enable it to open its factory in Kaduna and sell its products to military and paramilitary agencies in the country.
Under the contract, the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police, the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Prison Service will buy their uniforms exclusively from the Turkish firm.
Other agencies include the Federal Fire Service, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“This contract is not in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians because we are investing in a foreign company to do what Nigerians can do and also to cart away the profits from Nigeria to a foreign country after having exclusive rights to the Nigerian military and paramilitary uniforms market to the detriment of every textile company in Nigeria,” said Mr. Archibong.
“This contract was formulated by the very person entrusted with protecting Nigerian industries and ensuring that we have a fair and balanced trade agreement with other nations. A person entrusted with formulating policies that create a common-sense approach to investments in Nigeria.”
By going into the contract, Mr. Archibong said the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Niyi Adebayo has failed to protect the interest of the country.
He asked, “Can Mr. Adebayo proudly walk on the streets of Nigeria and share with Nigerians what he has done?”
Mr. Archibong argued the nation’s trade and investment sectors should be driven by industry leaders and not by a politician like Mr Adebayo, adding there are many textile companies in Nigeria with the capacity to produce uniforms for the Nigerian military and paramilitary agencies.
He insisted that the police and paramilitary officers buy local materials and get them sown by local tailors across the country.
Instead of investing in the Turkish firm, Mr. Archibong he said the Federal Government should have identified relevant textile companies in the country and invest the N5 billion to scale up their production capacity.
He argued the funds could have also increased the capacity of local firms to produce uniforms for the country’s military and paramilitary agencies.
“It appears, sadly, there is an eagerness by some people to bring this country to its knees by force. Imagine what that lucrative contract can do for our unemployed youth? Imagine what a N5 billion investment in the Nigerian textile sector can do for Nigeria and Nigerians?
“I urge the Federal Government to cancel the contract in question and award it to capable Nigerian textile companies. Anything apart from this will lead to the creation of a monopoly dominated by a foreign country and company in Nigeria,” Mr. Archibong said.