By Theodore Opara
The nation’s automotive industry to thrive again, stakeholders in the automotive industry have appealed to the Federal Government for the speedy passage and signing of the national automotive policy into law.
The stakeholders who gathered at the Nicon Luxury Hotel Abuja during the maiden edition of Auto CEOs Forum regretted that the billions of naira invested in setting up auto plants in the country would become a waste should the Federal Government continue to ignore giving the policy a legal backing.
Present at the event were leading auto manufacturers such as Lanre Shittu Motors CFAO Motors representing Suzuki and Mitsubishi, Dana Motors representing Kia and Danfang, Nord, Briscoe (Toyota), Jet system, DM Autos Honda and the Nigeria Automotive Manufacturers Association (NAMA).
The event, which was put together by some seasoned motoring journalists was aimed at bringing government agencies and automotive manufacturers to synergize on how to make the auto business in Nigeria more beneficiary to the masses and boost the economy.
The occasion presented an opportunity for government agencies like Nigeria Customs Service, Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, Nigeria Automotive Design and Development, NADDC, and National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, to assess the progress made in the auto sector with the automaker and how to move the sector forward.
The auto manufacturers who expressed their dismay on the poor development in the sector noted that if nothing is done urgently to salvage the situation, the sector would collapse in no time.
They argued that if such a scheme was made available, people would be able to buy new vehicles and the business of local assemblers in the country would thrive.
Mr Remi Olaofe, Executive Director, Nigeria Automobile Manufacturers Association (NAMA) lamented that lack of political will was the main constraint of the industry.
“We are not ready as a country to move. How long are we going to wait, while the industry is in a coma and multi-billion naira investment in the sector languishes across the nation,” he stated.
He said, “The auto policy was approved during President Goodluck Jonathan administration and till date they are still trying to make it a law.” He regretted that Ghana, a neighboring country that came to Nigeria to study the policy, had already put it to use.
“They came here, took the auto policy which was 72 pages, compressed it into a 24-page document and they already are working with it and all original equipment manufacturers OEMs from across the world are doing business with them at the detriment of Nigeria
“All what is said today, at the forum, has already been said. If we do not have the political will, nothing gets done. The funds are there; it is for us to decide what we want to do,” he added.
Representing the Director-General of BPP, the Director of Procurement, Mr Eze Obasi, urged the automobile companies to upgrade their status to enable them to benefit from the bureau’s policy.
“The Federal Government has a policy aimed at enabling ingenious firms to grow.
“We recommend agencies to patronize upgraded companies who have met all the requirements of tax clearance, CAC registration, PENCOM certifications, ITF and NSITF.
“However, there is a need for a deliberate collaboration among you. You also need to collaborate with smaller firms that can provide the necessary components you need to thrive.”