Lagos – The Federal Government has restated its commitment to implement the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP).
Mr Ikechukwu Enelamah, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, made this known at a stakeholders’ forum on the policy, tagged “Setting an Implementation Agenda for the NAIDP” in Lagos on Monday.
Enelamah said that all that was needed to implement the plan was an enabling environment and a partnership between the government and stakeholders.
“Value addition is very important in implementing the automotive plan and the government needs to create an enabling environment for the plan to work
“The whole essence of the plan is to foster backward integration and local content utilisation in vehicle assembling, which will in turn create jobs for our productive youths.
“There is a great need to continuously engage with the stakeholders and this is the main reason for this forum.’’
He said the government recognised the importance of such engagement in order to revive the industry using local content.
“The government recognises the contributions of the automotive industry to the implementation of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and we believe it is better to build on the policy than creating another,” the minister said.
He said the forum was the first in the series of engagements the government was planning with stakeholders.
Mr Tokunbo Aromolaran, Managing Director, VON Automobile Nigeria, while speaking during a panel session, said that there was a need to put a stop to the importation of cars through land borders.
Aromolaran said that the borders were so porous that they give the customs little or no power to control the importation of used cars which was a threat to local production.
“One of the best things the government can do to develop local assembling of cars in Nigeria is by banning used cars completely, in a gradual process, say in a period of three years, ” Aromolaran said.
Also speaking, Mr Kunle Ade-ojo, Managing Director, Toyota Nigeria Ltd, said more legislation was needed to give more support to the policy.
“The automobile industry is still grappling with a lot of challenges like poor maintenance culture, inadequate incentives for local manufacturers and assemblers and a generally unfavourable environment to grow.
“So the best thing to do is just the implementation of this plan, even though the size of the market is still an issue.
“It is a bitter truth we need to know that the market for used cars is still very large, so this is an issue we need to put into consideration, when implementing this policy, talking about pricing and taste of the average Nigerian.
“How can we convince about 100 million middle and low level Nigerian to buy a new car of X price instead of a used car he would rather buy for a cheaper price?
“So this is something we need to consider, even as businessmen and the government.
“There is a great need to put in place a finance solution to meet the needs of the Nigerians that we want their tastes to change to buy new, made-in-Nigeria cars,” Ade-ojo said.
Mr Ibrahim Boyi, Managing Director, PAN Nigeria Ltd said that the policy had been plagued by so many weaknesses that needed to be addressed.
He said that most important aspect of the policy was how to produce quality vehicles that could compete globally and still be affordable.
“The question is that how can we make this policy sustainable even with successive governments and also enforce quality assurance,” Boyi said.
Mr Cosmas Maduka, President Coscharis Group, said that it had been tough getting foreign investors to invest in the Nigerian automotive industry.
Maduka said this was due to the fears of long term or short term failures, “but if the government can put the enabling environment in place to assist the local manufacturers, then foreign investors can come in’’. (NAN)