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Borno State tailors head for greener pastures

16 February 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

Exorbitant commodity prices, escalating inflation and the ever-plunging naira make other countries a safer and more lucrative bet for Maiduguri tailors

Tailors in Maiduguri, Borno State, are spreading their wings and searching for greener pastures in countries outside Nigeria.

They leave their families behind and head to Chad, Cameroon, Togo and – before the military coup on July 26 last year – the Niger Republic.

A tailor, who asked to remain anonymous, told RNI that garment-makers made much more money in countries outside Nigeria, which accounted for the substantial number of those leaving Maiduguri and other parts of Borno State.

“They pick up their sewing machines and leave. They even leave their families behind,” he said.

Shuaibu Alhaji Abatcha, chairman of the Borno State chapter of the Tailor Association of Nigeria, confirmed that garment-makers were leaving the state to bolster their trade in other African countries.

“I know many tailors who have left not only Maiduguri but also other towns and villages in local government areas of the state. They make a lot more money in countries outside Nigeria.

“Most of the tailors leave illegally by sneaking across the border. For that reason, they take their sewing equipment and set up stalls in villages rather than in the main towns.

“People in Borno State face a number of challenges and that is why the tailors are leaving. Here, even though they have the skills, many cannot find employment and they do not have enough capital to start their own businesses. What compounds their problems is that many people no longer use tailors because they cannot afford them.

“The average price for clothing used to be about ₦2,000. Now we charge at least ₦5,000. Unfortunately, the price has chased away many customers. It is more important to put food on the table than to buy new clothing. The tailors here are suffering because we have lost many of their customers. It makes more sense to set up shop in another country than to suffer here.”

Abatcha said the relocation from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, began after the then newly elected president, Bola Tinubu, removed the fuel subsidy in July last year.

“Scrapping the subsidy intensified the hardships suffered by citizens because the price of every commodity skyrocketed. Inflation soared and the naira plunged. In fact, it continues to devalue. It is as if it is in freefall.

“When the prices began to rise, many tailors decided to ply their trade in other countries because the West African CFA franc is worth much more than the naira. In one day a tailor can make anything from CFA 3,000 to CFA 4,000. When they send the money back to their families, it is a huge amount; much more than they would make here.

“Many of them leave their families at first. The families join them once they have set up shop in the new country.”

A tailor, who identified himself only as Musa, told RNI that many of his friends and colleagues had left Maiduguri.

“They left not because they did not want to stay here but because of the economic hardships they were experiencing. They were no longer able to provide for their families.

“Before the prices soared, we used to get many orders for clothes in a week. Now, hardly any customers can afford new clothes. If I get the opportunity to travel, I won’t hesitate. I am happy for those who have managed to get work in other countries. I hope to join them in the not-too-distant future.”



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