EFULA ABBAH (General Editor, Motoring World International)
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s rather unfortunate to think that some high and mighty Nigerians could be working against the auto policy, which the Federal Government inaugurated for only one holistic reason, to lift the Auto Industry out of perpetual dependency on its foreign counterparts.
Since the inauguration of the all-important automobile policy in 2013, one would have expected the altruistic motives behind it to have pushed for its implementation by the federal government. But no, the policy is still in embryo stage and non-operative. And one wonders what is keeping it. One analyst revealed sometimes ago that the National Assembly is putting its feet on it so that the policy does not see the light of the day. In other words, there is yet no law backing it up.
Again, why would the National Assembly be putting its feet or sitting on it? After all, they are supposed to be representatives of the Nigerian people; and since the Auto Policy is people driven, then, it only behooves common sense to get it operational.
One is also contemplative about federal government’s sincerity towards the Policy, because if government was really serious about uplifting the spirit of local vehicle manufacturing in the country, there should have been more proactive moves to see its realization within the quicker time possible, since almost four years ago when the plan was explained to Nigerians.
However, it is important to note the ingenuity of the Policy towards growing the motor industry in Nigeria, perhaps, to re-educate those working hard to kill the idea behind it.
In the language of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who inaugurated the laudable plan, the implementation of the new automotive policy would create more direct and indirect jobs across different sectors of the Nigerian economy; meaning that more Nigerians will get employment and paid salaries, not only in the auto industry, but also from other sectors of the economy; also, more Nigerians will be able to help their individual families; standard of living will rise; more families would not have to go to bed hungry as the case is right now and by these, stealing and armed robbery will extinct.
For the average Nigerian masses, the Policy is good and reliable; and when you think about it, one wants to heave a sigh of relief, that at least the future is brighter.
However, according to statistics, the automotive industry currently employs about 2,500 people, and this is because there is not much to do with too many hands since most automotive industries only import vehicles and those of them which gives just little input assembling, do not require more than few hands necessary; but if the motifs behind the auto policy is implemented, it is expected that the industry will generate more than 700,000 jobs which will benefit the growing Nigerian Youth population. The policy will help create jobs in different clusters in the country and across the entire automotive value chain.
It will also fast-track the growth and development of other intervening industries such as automotive spare parts, auto servicing, steel industry,rubber, and petrochemicals as well as plastic industries among numerous others.”
In order to industrialize Nigeria, there is every need to diversify economy, create jobs and generate wealth for our people, through the implementation of investment-friendly policies, such as the auto policy, so as to attract local and foreign investments and brands from different parts of the world into the critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The many advantages of this economy-saving auto policy are countless; especially that Nigerians wouldn’t have to be embarrassed all the time with foreign technologies in imported vehicles currently flooding the auto markets.
Those working day and night to frustrate the implementation of the auto policy also needs to be informed that within the first seven months of the policy, Nigeria made more progress in the auto industry than it has made in the last 30 years and of course, more than ever before, with about 12 companies already taking advantage of the initiative by making investments in vehicle production and assembling.
In light of recent developments, many Nigerians, organisations and corporate bodies concerned about the suicide intent by the continuous delay in effecting the goodwill of the auto policy have been calling on the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to put aside sentiments and, as a matter of urgency, begin the full implementation of the policy, whether or not the National Assembly agrees to get treated of their ignorance about the good values of the policy or not.
The trust of the advocacy could mean, that not overriding the rule of law and separation of power in our democracy, there should be certain interpretable provisions in the constitution that can empower the presidency to implement some good policies for the betterment of the masses, even though they are not yet laws.Does it really matter if such good policies are not yet passed into law before implementing them or a good part of it? After all, the basic essence of every law in a democracy is to serve the purpose of the people.
What seems to be playing out in the head of many Nigerians is the realization of the fact that their so-called representatives might not be serving their interest after all, especially if they could not use the broad eyes of their knowledge to see the auto policy as people-oriented.
Recently, Nigeria Automotive Manufacturers Association (NAMA) cautioned the Federal Government not to succumb to detractors and cynics in self-centered quest to circumvent and scuttle renewed efforts to revive domestic production of automobile in the country.
NAMA cried to government to urgently demonstrate its conviction about the auto policy by reassuring investors that government wouldn’t dump the good policy for the sake of any unfavorable ‘Change.’
Chairman, Nigeria Automotive Manufacturers Association(NAMA), Mr. Tokunbo Aromolaran, appraising President Muhammadu Buhari government’s contributions to the nascent automotive industry one-year after, noted the worries of majority of stakeholders in the industry as well as that of well meaning Nigerians that government seem to be under unnecessary pressure concerning the sabotage exuded by some demeaning members of the National Assembly about the auto policy.
Aromolaran hinted that, the automotive industry “are forced to believe that government is being distracted by naysayers and interested parties, who wish to slow down the progress in the sector. And these are people who have benefited from trading and are now feeding government with negative reports and holding back the pace of development of the industry.”
Aromolaran, therefore, urged the Federal Government to show more determination to enforce the National Industrial Revolution Plan as contained in the auto policy and work-out incentives and strategy to accelerate the successful take-off of the companies.
He clarified that such incentives should take into account the peculiar challenges investors face in the course of operation, such as inadequate infrastructure” stressing that “a viable manufacturing industry like the auto industry is capable of creating huge multiplier effects for the Nigerian economy and society.”
The NAMA boss, however, noted that, previous administration might have scratched the surface by putting in place the auto policy, but the present government should take the credit for giving it a bite, by institutionalizing attractive incentives to woo major OEMs.
“This is the way to reawaken our productive capacity and create a future for the children of the poor and downtrodden,” the NAMA chairman reasoned.
Aromolaran, however, wants government to know that the conviction about the auto plan has inspired tremendous activities in the automotive sector, despite very difficult operating environment; policy uncertainty, dearth of skilled manpower, poor infrastructure, especially electricity and scarce foreign exchange.
Nonetheless, in order to further chase ignorance away by our dear National Assembly power mongers against the auto policy, it is even more significant to put before their purview the heavy credentials of a revolutionized automotive industry in Nigeria.
First, Nigeria Assembly Plants will cease being mere repairers of foreign automobiles, and graduate into manufacturer of vehicles, just as evident since the policy was introduced. Take for example Innoson Motors, KIA, Nissan, Hyundai, Toyota, Ford, FAW, and a host of others.
Secondly, the Assembly Plants will further graduate into using more local content instead of having to import all their needed spare parts from abroad. Right now some of the plants can boast of at least 25% local contents and this can improve tremendously in just few years, if the auto policy gets the green light of the almighty law makers.
Thirdly, more Nigerians will be involved in the revolution in the auto industry; thereby becoming a veritable avenue to make many Nigerians become skilled and productive in that sector;
Again, or do we say, fourth, for the sake of proper followership by the detractors we intend to show the light? The Auto Policy will reduce dormancy, idleness and juvenility among Nigerian youths.
A revolutionized auto industry will create an enabling environment for the growth of the allied industry in Nigeria for spare parts and other consumables for the auto industry;
So also, Nigeria will save the huge foreign exchange used in smuggling and importing vehicles from foreign countries.
The IDs for a much better future for the Nigerian economy through the auto policy is so numerous that the more Nigerians believe that the opposing group of the auto policy in the Legislature should reconsider their bias and key into the yearning revolution of the auto industry. The industry could never be better without such a well designed thought.
It will be better to put aside political sentiments and support and motivate any well meaning policy that is capable of launching Nigeria into the class of industrial revolutionized countries, at least after the likes of South Africa and Brazil.