Founder and chairman of Nigeria’s automobile company, Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma.
…as Gbajabiamila, Ngige call for special attention to skill acquisition programmes
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Federal Government said on Wednesday that recorded over $1 billion investment into the automotive industry in 2019.
The Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Mr Jelani Aliyu made the disclosure at the opening of the two-day investigative hearing into the financial budgetary approvals and multilateral donation on skills acquisition and related programs of the Federal Government and its agencies by House of Representatives Ad-hoc on the matter.
The committee is chaired by Hon. Victor Akinjo.
The committee had alleged that reports submitted to it indicated that contracts worth multi-billion naira awarded by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the training/skill acquisition programmes were implemented without Appropriation between 2011 and 2020.
To this end, the Committee invited the Bank of Industry, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), North East Development Commission, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TetFund), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Bank of Agriculture, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Presidential Amnesty Programme (Amnesty Office), Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Local Content Development Board, NIRSAL Plc and NIRSAL Microfinance Bank, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and National Automotive Design and Development Council for questioning.
Others invited also included Federal Capital Territory Administration, National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), Industrial Training Fund, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Federal Ministries of Labour and Employment, Works, Foreign Affairs, Education, Youths & Sports, Agriculture & Rural Development, Science & Technology, Finance, Budget & National Planning, among others.
The Committee is demanding documentary evidence of payment to the federation account as well as a copy of the Appropriation Acts for the fiscal years being investigated.
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Testifying before the committee, Aliyu said it was the responsibility of his agency to stimulate growth in the sector.
He said “We have the core responsibility of developing the automotive sector, that’s to encourage and promote the assembling and production of the vehicle in Nigeria as opposed to continued importation of them from overseas and exporting jobs and revenues outside of Nigeria. It is our responsibility to keep all those funds here in Nigeria and promote our own.
“The first one is investment promotion to encourage investment into Nigeria and I’m pleased to say that as of 2019, we managed to bring about 1billion dollars into the country by companies such as Honda, Innoson, Dangote cement trucks and so on.
“These companies have a storage capacity of 400,000 vehicles, to all things being equal they’ve invested in Nigeria. We’re also playing our role in being part of the future by joining the rest of the world in their advances such as electric vehicles.
“It’s one thing to produce vehicles and another thing for people to buy them. That’s why we are at an advanced stage of discussion with Wema, Jaiz, Zenith banks to provide single-digit auto financing for made in Nigeria vehicles. As soon as we get the necessary approval, Nigerians will be able to put down 10 per cent, drive off with a new car made in Nigeria and pay over five years, rather than being forced to pay everything 100 per cent.”
In his presentation, the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Awwal Alhassan said N50 billion equity was given by the Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) based on 60/40 per cent shareholding.
He said the Bank was currently utilizing some funds for some MDAs such as the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs for the implementation of social intervention programmes,
Similarly, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige picked holes in the execution of the skill acquisition programmes, saying there was no coordination.
Represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Yerima Tarfa, Ngige reiterated his commitment to reducing unemployment through skill acquisition.
Earlier in his address, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by the Leader of the house, Ado Doguwa said that special attention needed to be paid to the skill acquisition programmes to create more jobs for the youths.
“We need also to pay attention to the need to make sure that our young people have the skills they need to be employable and productive.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria in the 2021 Appropriation Act, and in previous Appropriation Acts, has provided funding for programmes intended to bridge the skills gap among our young people, and to enhance human capital development in the country. In addition to funding, the government has implemented other programmes, and the agencies of government have received external funding for the same purpose.
“Now, in the exercise of our constitutional role to oversee the implementation of government programmes and the utilisation of public resources, the House of Representatives has constituted an Ad-hoc Committee to review these programmes, examine the utilisation of funds and understand what has been done so far, so we can determine to what extent those efforts have yielded the desired outcomes.
“I urge all the stakeholders present today, as well as others who hold the same ambitions we do for the development of Nigeria and the wellbeing of all her peoples, to contribute constructively to the conversations that will hold over the course of this hearing. I also ask the representatives of the ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government to see this hearing as part of the joint task of nation-building and engage with the committee in that understanding”, Gbajabiamila said.