[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he quest for model Nigerian car has become much of a necessity. It more so, now that the lower class Nigerians may never be able to ride a car in their life time, due to sky rocketing cost of existing cars, either smuggled into the country or supposedly assembled by adventuring local assemblies. No thanks to the high value attached to the unavailable raw materials needed by local production.
Following Motoring World’s feature in the last edition, it should not be misunderstood the candid exploit of some credible Nigerians, who have in their limited mechanical towering presented the country with at least something to look up to. But the concept of Model Nigerian Car should not be alternated for Made in Nigeria car.
A Made in Nigeria Car could be interpreted to mean a vehicle that is either assembled or manufactured in Nigeria, within the Nigeria State; and not necessarily by a Nigerian genius or firm. It could be an exploit by a foreign auto manufacturing outfit based in Nigeria. Mercedes can set up an Auto manufacturing plant in Nigeria and manufacture cars directly from the Plant. That can be called a Made in Nigeria Car. Just for the sake of clarity.
A Model Nigerian car is not only a car produced in Nigeria, by an auto manufacturer, who is also a Nigerian. But, when looked at, it should be identifiable as being crafted for Nigeria and Nigerians; characteristic of Nigerian Roads and being affordable by Nigerian Masses. By Masses, sociologists mean, Commoners; so Nigerian Masses refer to Nigerian commoners, the lower bottom people of the cadre, who, agitators for this common pride feel should also ride cars in their life times and not necessarily ill-wishing their hopes on cars on the mountain prices, that are the exclusive reserve of already over competed high and mighty class people.
Recently, the honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, declared that as soon as the Federal Government started the implementation of the 2016 budget, he would only ride in “cars manufactured in Nigeria.”
Mark his choice language. But that is not what the clamour is all about. The understanding should be “ Model Nigerian Car” and not just “Cars Manufactured in Nigeria.” I think that the understanding still vaguely, is the major reason that for nearly sixty years of existence as an Independent nation, Nigeria still depends on foreign made vehicles. And now, local auto manufactures seem already over influenced by the existing foreign technologies embedded in the world of vehicles, especially those that come into the country. Else, it is expected that through thorough research in fabrication technology, some kind of sacred indigenous thought would have crossed a deep thinking mind of a local manufacturer to articulate model design that can proudly befit what a Model Nigerian Car should look like.
For now, demand may not be unrestricted to fabrication alone; not necessarily based on the local content prerequisite as contained in the auto policy, but should be an all-round car fabrication that should include both exterior and interior decors of all major spare parts, for example: the wheel, compartments, seats, accident security facilities and even tires, if for nothing else, should match in with the rough and rugged roads in the interior villages of Nigeria.
However, big things they say start small, perhaps with the recent never-achieved-before, ground-breaking achievement by some auto manufacturing plants, the crave for this little favour by the uncelebrated Nigerian commoners might not take too long to manifest.
When the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the introduction of a new automotive policy aimed at discouraging importation of wholly assembled automobiles and to encourage higher degree local manufacturing, it seemed like a tall dream. But today, Innoson Motors, an indigenous company, based in Anambra State, South East, Nigeria, last week, unveiled a new brand of vehicles, building on local assembly successes by Peugeot, Kia, Hyundai, Nissan, among others, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited founded by Nigerian industrialist, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, is leading the pack with wide gaps, in the race for a Made in Nigeria vehicle; and is capable of arriving at the clue first for a true Model Nigerian Car, considering the unique styling of some of the cars he produces.
Innoson vehicles, according to Mr.Chukwuma, contain up to 70% local content, an indication of truly emerging Nigerianized car, capable of fulfilling the purpose of the nation’s auto policy.
Even now, the company has revealed its plans to take its brand to the neighboring West Africa countries, with the Republic of Benin and Ghana on its first radar. The company had earlier impressed with its trucks and buses, which are already cruising the roads and still dazzling the auto world.
The range of Innoson vehicles is already savoring lot of local patronage, unlike in the past, when indigenous manufacturers were muffled by lack of appreciation for their products.
Reliable information say the Former governor of Anambra State, where the Innoson plant is located, Peter Obi have become a frequent buyer of the locally manufactured vehicles, along with the likes of Senator Ben Murray Bruce and the likes of Segun Awolowo, son of late founding father of the Nigerian State, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) is expected to soon take delivery of Pickups made by Innoson
The country’s minister of trade and investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, who was at the unveil held in Nnewi, commended IVM for producing the first Nigeria-made vehicles. He said such an investment is necessary to expand the country’s manufacturing frontiers.