Nigeria at 57: Any Cause for Cheer in the Auto Industry?

FEMI OWOEYE

Nigerian independence anniversary celebration has become a routine. Same song. Same speech. Same people. Same knives and forks. Same Cups. Same plates. Same table linen- only washed. Same places to eat it. Same toilet and toilet paper (being frugal). Different year, same banner. They just paint over the previous year’s one. Same old…same old. Oh God!! I am bored. Give me strength…

Honestly, what are we celebrating?

If as much effort given to celebrating nothing had been given to developing Nigeria, the nation would have been on its feet years ago and not so poor. Now would have been something worth shouting about (even I’d sing a song).

The only industry that has cause to celebrate this day, I am bold to say, is “Dangote Industry”. But let’s be honest, he did get help in the past to get his finger on everything. This day, he can celebrate cement, Spaghetti, Sugar, and lots more. The only thing he has not got his finger on is fresh air. But give him time. After all, his finger is now on the auto industry. Maybe the industry will start blossoming by the time Dangote rolls out his first tin can and wrap round the industry with his duvet of business monopoly. By that time, and I am not a prophet, he would most probably own Nigeria. And the likes of Toyota, Peugeot, Nissan, Kia, Fiat, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford, to name but a few, will have no choice than to relocate like Dunlop and Michelin, for they can’t afford to generate electricity. Dangote does. Isn’t that nice? Who else would get the chance?

This is a sad day for Nigeria.

And many sycophants and ignoramus simply celebrate Nigeria’s unity. Of what use is flower and pollination that yield no fruit? Of what use is a unity without a purpose? Nigerian auto industry is virtually becoming a dead horse. It should not be. But the nation’s rulers have made it so.  WHY?

Alright I give it to the present regime, only early this year, importation of vehicles through land borders was stopped, purposely to discourage smuggling, get importers to pay the right duty, so that prices of imported used vehicles would encourage Nigerians to patronize locally assembled new ones.

Is it really working?

I don’t think so, not when you have senators that block every developmental legislations, bitterly complain that Custom chief was being too high-handed, all because he stopped their little antics in smuggling vehicles into the country. Oh. What a shame! Now that President Buhari is back on his feet, he should forcibly encourage Nigerian senators to see the error of their ways, turn their faces to the light and buy Nigerian vehicles. It’s either that or they walk. The exercise would do some good to their blotted corrupt tummies. After all, for them to have acquired for their official use, vehicles that could be assembled in Nigeria is illegal, isn’t it?

Well, Nigeria is 57. I put this to our dear President Buhari: Sir, how do you expect investors to come to Nigeria, set up businesses, when, let’s be honest, we’ve got crap electricity? Fire flies give more electricity than NEPA under Mr. Babatunde Fashola’s supervision. What would help the car industry, and other industries (not just cars) bolster the workforce, when there is no power?

Where is the steel industry? Is it still being wrapped in cotton wool to keep it safe? Or are we waiting for a certain person to open the steel works, mentioning no names, using misappropriated money on behalf of someone else to do your job for you? Hmnnn. Watch this space I suppose. After all, what else can we do? There are no jobs, so we’ve got a plenty of time.

In Nigeria, talents are plenty. But where do they have to go? They have to go abroad. Do you know why? One: they can earn the wages…I am not saying they can’t. But, two, and more importantly, their talents are snapped up, and they are appreciated. It’s called brain-drain. For when you look at those in government in many states across Nigeria, you do honestly wonder, if they can sign their names. Those, who do have the brains and the talents, and are honest, won’t ever get as far as that. Not ever.

One that really prospered, ok she is a crook, is the former oil minister. And she is living the life of old riley in London, using misappropriated money to finance her “medical bills”. How nice for her!! What about over 100 million Nigerians, who have to pay through the nose for the bed, food, medicines?

Where does the government think the money is coming from, when there are no jobs? Is that how Nigerian rulers plan to keep the population down by letting us die? And the likes of Diezany are in London and other developed nations swaning  around with their gold, jewelry and pearls. Are they renting council flats? I don’t think so. So what are we celebrating, apart from nothing? Is it another excuse for ministers to waste the nation’s  money and have jolly time, while the rest of Nigerians wonder where to get the next bowl of tomatoes and can’t afford the meat?

Oh.. Nice. President Buhari brought in one of the nation’s drained brains back into Nigeria to head the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC). But where are the others? One wonders if the new NADDC chief would ever manage to convince the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unhook the Auto Finance bank. Or is CBN keeping that for a special occasion? Well, at least, it won’t wear out.

Oh I give it to the NADDC Chief, he is a veteran automobile designer from General Motors. But I hope he is not planning to reinvent the wheels for Nigeria. For given the world’s most boring song our past leaders sang and still sing about made-in-Nigeria car, it might not be realized until Christ comes the second time and needs a car for his evangelism.

And I can bet you, by then; he would prefer an autonomous car, not the Henry Ford’s Model T that Nigerian leaders have been encouraging since 70s.

FEMI OWOEYE, Editor-in-chief, Motoring World International

Happy birthday, NIGERIA. Let’s hope that with the New Year, comes new hope and not the old ways.

Have I upset anyone? Oh dear. What a shame.

God Bless Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari, because, let’s be honest, their representatives won’t.

 

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