Contrary to a recent statement credited to the nation’s Licensed Custom Agents, the stakeholders of the Nigeria’s automobile industry are not smiling.
Insulting the nation’s automobile assembly plant operators in a media statement, the Association of Licensed Custom Agents (ANLCA), claims the nation’s auto policy does not “encourage manufacturing but people who cannot produce ordinary radiator, smiling home with our money under the guise of being local assemblers.”
Imagine the level of superfluous slight coming from a group of people, who have over the years fed fat from the corrupt import policy that has brutally hindered the development of the nation’s auto industry.
No doubt, when this group refers to auto policy, they mean the National Auto Industry Development Plan (NAIDP), which President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has left to somersault.
Ignorantly, they can’t even differentiate between the auto policy and the NAIDP, without which the nation’s auto policy remains a lame duck and the future of the industry bleak.
“Education without value, as useful as it is, seem rather to make man a clever devil,” a statement by C.S Lewis, brings me to another category of media insurgents, talking about certain devious media elements attempting to either rip off the stakeholders or war against those that refuse to be conned. Even the professional and patriotic motoring journalists, who are in the majority are being blackmailed and threatened, simply for daring to expose their antics.
Their unprofessional modus operandi includes: boycotting events organized by non-cooperating stakeholders and publishing fake and embarrassing news stories about automobile brand of their victim.
The third category is the America-returnee, NADDC Director General, Mr. Jelani Aliyu, who since assumed office, has been in the habit of making misleading statements, aimed at making media headline. During a Nigerian auto journalists’ event, he once told the motoring media, via zoom, that President Buhari would sign the NAIDP into law before the end of the year, when it was as clear as daylight that it won’t happen.
Also, whenever he is asked a question about the state of the NAIDP, Jelani is fond of saying that the plan is already being implemented. Implementation in piecemeal what has not been passed into law? Isn’t that like tying your shoe laces without having shoes? No wonder, it was easy to yank off one of the implementations, via the 2020 Finance Act, which slashed automotive import duties to a level at which it becomes cheaper to import fully made up cars. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Conceived to be passed into law to avoid policy somersault and give confidence to the OEMs that Nigeria is ready for the auto manufacturing, NAIDP was originally planned to be implemented as a whole, such that the licensed auto assemblers would go from SKD1 through SKD2 to CKD, from which they start content deletion and replacement with locally made content.
Unless he does the needful, President Buhari would, at the end of his tenure in 2023, hand over to the next regime a nation that fails to embrace an industry regarded as one of the largest employers of labour globally. We will be making other nations rich to the detriment of our own people and economy of our nation.
But hey, what does that matter? Let’s make other nations rich. Let’s keep them employed. This reminds me of a poem from my childhood, titled: “For the want of a nail the war was lost”. It goes like this:
For the want of a nail the horseshoe was lost,
For the want of the horseshoe the horse was lost,
For the want of the horse the battle was lost,
For the want of the battle the war was lost.
For the want of the battle the nation was lost,
All For The Want Of A Nail
The same thing will happen to the Nigerian auto industry.
The history of the plan began its life under the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan. I’m not talking about auto policy; there has always been some form of ad hoc auto policy. At this point, I mean NAIDP. It was passed through the national assembly and sent to the then President Jonathan with whom it died of old age. Like Lazarus, it was resurrected, passed through the houses and again sent to the present day President, where it is suffering in the presidential detention.
“Now why would that be?” you ask. Well, there seems to be a wicked fairy in the corridors of power, who has deemed it necessary to use this same bundle of paper as a cushion with which to ease their ever expanding backside, so when practitioners of fake information start bandying around newsletters that the Auto policy is a scam, they may consider the fact that they do not know the difference between the policy and the NAIDP.
They are not even swayed by the fact that about 50 investors have been licensed to make vehicles in Nigeria. Some of them are: Innoson (local assembler of Innoson brand), Stallion Motors(Local Assembler of Nissan, Hyundai, MG and Changan brands), Coscharis Motors (Local assembler of Ford brand) Dana Motors(Local assembler of Kia brand), ANAMMCO(Local assembler of Shacman trucks brand), Mikano Motors(local assembler of Geely brand), Toyota Nigeria(local assembler of Toyota Hiace) and Proforce ( manufacturer of military armoured vehicles).
The aforementioned and many more have sunk millions of dollars into the nation’s auto industry, simply because they believe in Nigeria and its economic potential.
They, therefore, do not deserve insults from mere licensed custom agents, whose only interest is making money from imported vehicles, which is against the development of the nation’s auto industry.
The stakeholders too should try not to fall for the antics of the media wolfs in sheepskin, whose interests is merely to dupe the struggling stakeholders, using media bait and blackmail strategy.
Enough is enough. We know that, in less than nine months to the next election, the NAIDP is unlikely to see the light of the day. The only things left to illuminate the media space are headlines of deceptive or irrelevant activities emanating from the Ministry of Industry/NADDC with the help of the said anti-industry media insurgents, who are now desperately out to make their own gain from the failed system before the 2023 election.
And my advice to the ALNCA group is to stop embarrassing the nation by spreading unfounded media statement, just to make headlines. What they have just done is tantamount to throwing a stone from their glass house.
Moreover, it is time for the industry opinion leaders, Nigerian media, professional motoring journalists, who are in the majority and members of the Nigerian Auto Journalists Association(NAJA), to double efforts and form a tougher resistance against the antics of the enemies of the country, who are bent on making Nigeria a mere dumping ground for automotive products from sub-Sahara Africa and other nations, especially when the AFCFTA(African Continental Free Trade Area) gets into a full swing.
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