Industry Expert Proffers Solution to Auto Policy Quagmire

…Calls on FG to Allow Auto Industry to Evolve

ROTIMI ASHER

A communication consultant and auto industry expert, Dr. Oscar Odiboh has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to drop the auto policy and allow the Nigerian auto industry to evolve as it did in the 60s, because, in his view, there has been too much ado with nothing being done.

The don dropped this bombshell while delivering a paper titled: ‘’ Zero Patronage, Zero Tariff and The Redefinition Patriotism by Nigeria Automobile industry during the Nigeria Auto Journalists Training Workshop held in Lagos recently.

According to Odiboh, the nation’s auto industry started recording natural growth  from 1965 but made downward trend after the federal government entered the business from1973.

He recalled: ‘’The first automobile boom started in 1965 when individuals and private sector set up Semi-knocked down (SKD) assembly plants. United African Company (UAC) was the first to begin an SDK plant followed by others like the British Federated Motors and SCOA.’’

‘’These companies,’’ he emphasized, ‘’built assembly plants and produced vehicles without legislation. Due to the collapse of transportation business in Lagos ten years earlier, some state governments established mass transit companies to bridge the gap. This led to patronage of private automobile assembly plants. By so doing, they helped to build the automotive industry by patronizing them. That was when we had automotive boom in the 70s.”

Odiboh believed that the automotive industry collapsed when the government entered into business in 1973 by partnering with OEM, adding that the boom began to shrink and eventually collapsed as a result of unhealthy competition, poor funding by the next government and poor patronage by government officials, all of which culminated in failure of the industry.

Cross section of Facilitators and participants at the 2019 Nigerian Auto journalists training workshop held in Lagos recently

He pointed out: “The ten years projections of import substitution, 100% local content, technology transfer, innovative design of Nigeria car cannot be achieved without patronage of new cars from the assembly plants.”

The University don queried the wisdom and patriotism in government functionaries’ attempting to build an industry they do not patronize.

He queried: “How could the Federal Government possibly achieve National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) without patronizing our assembly plants? What happens to operating auto assemblies when 2019 budget will not buy new cars?’’

Odiboh said since the Nigerian auto industry thrived in the 70s without legislation, the government should not force assembly plants into reality by pushing a policy, but rather “encourage them by way of patronage and infrastructural development.”

He therefore, advised the government to allow assembly plants to evolve.

“Let the industry move on,” he stressed. “Revolution is not by force. It starts with evolution. We must evolve to revolve. Let auto industry evolve then it can evolve. In addition, Dr. Odiboh advised National Automotive Design and Development  Council(NADDC) to restrict itself to design, development of infrastructure and campaigns on patriotic patronage of Made-In –Nigeria vehicles.

 

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