Aliyu, a reputable automotive designer who worked for the American car company General Motors as a senior creative designer, until his appointment in 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari, said, “The industry and stakeholders are ready and have always been to assemble vehicles in Nigeria but the challenge has been patronage.
“So if we can unlock the local demand, I think we would be going a million miles an hour.”
The director general spoke after inspecting some vehicles assembled in Nigeria that were on display at the 15th Edition of the annual Lagos International Motor Fair at the Federal Palace Hotel, Ahmadu Bello Way Victoria Island, Lagos. The fair, which held against all odds, began on June 28, ends today.
He said the assembling of vehicles in Nigeria, especially Lagos means a lot for the Nigerian market. “We are sure it’s going to add value to many people. Those that have jobs in the factories would be using it for their personal needs. These are the types of development that the federal government through the NADDC and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment would continue to focus on and continue to support because we strongly believe the only viable future for Nigeria is the one of industrialisation and the sector plays a significant role in any nation.
“There is infrastructure on ground. When you look at the vehicles here, these companies and more have invested over N500 billion in their plants and factories. So, they believe in the Nigerian market. The reason why these questions keep coming up is because of lack of patronage. The ability to build these vehicles exists and it’s not something we are chasing and it is not something that would happen in the next five or 10 years, it exists already but Nigerians would buy these vehicles and you would be surprised at the high percentage of Nigerian-made vehicles on the roads.”
He also discussed the future of Nigeria’s auto industry in regard to zero carbon future with electric vehicles. “Electric vehicles are already here, and for Nigeria electric vehicles aren’t just a future, they are the now. Hyundai Kona, Jet van, OMAA amongst others. When you really analyse and scientifically understand electric vehicles, they are better for us practically and socially. We are people that aren’t into maintenance, electric vehicles allows you to run a million miles without much maintenance.
“So, we can do it and we are doing it. Very soon we would be commissioning for Lagos, the first solar power electric vehicle charging station. NADDC is going beyond production of electric vehicles; we are also looking at the infrastructure. Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind, we believe what has been done in other places can easily be replicated here, it is not a tall order, it is something that Nigerians and others committed to development can easily do.”
On the revised National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP), Aliyu said, “We are done with the draft, we are looking at that final draft to crystalise it further and once it is out, we are sure it would pass through as an Executive Bill. But one beautiful thing is that we have investors and stakeholders even as we face challenges, even as we are working on the review of the auto policy, they have invested billions of Naira in the Nigerian automotive sector saying that they believe in it and they are here for Nigeria and they would continue to be for Nigeria to the betterment of the nation.
“Government is always ready not just to support the manufacturers but every Nigerian citizens, we will continue to work all relevant stakeholders and ensuring that the correct policies are put in place that would in the long run put smiles on the faces of Nigerians.”
According to the Managing Director BKG Exhibitions Limited, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Agwu, “This edition is holding despite all odds to ensure that the automotive sector of the Nigerian economy remains in the front burner of economic discuss in Nigeria; having in mind the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on global economy and other social activities as well as the uncertainties of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP).
“The automotive and road transport sectors are very important as they show physically the state of any economy, generate much revenue and create enormous employment. It is the artery of the economy and if it is badly affected, other sectors suffer. Economies that know its worth do not handle issues in the sector with kid gloves. One wonders why the reverse is the case in Nigeria. Even in the Covid-19 induced global economic downturn these nations supported the sector and their economies were better for it.
“To fast track and effectively drive the quest for the diversification of the Nigerian economy the government must have as its first and strategic choice the auto industry. This is based on empirical evidences of the potentials of the industry. it continuously plays strategic and catalytic roles in economic development; especially in the areas of employment generation, Gross Domestic Product contribution, Small and Medium Enterprises development, which are key to robust economic development.
“This is indeed a seriously challenging time in the Automotive Industry in Nigeria. It is a season that has thrown up more challenges than ever before. A lot of companies have closed shop while a large number merely exists and direly in need of life supports. This can be confirmed by the number of exhibitors in this edition. Ordinarily it is the delight and wish of any serious player in the industry to showcase amongst others but here we are witnessing the opposite.
“All the relevant stakeholders must join hands and release the synergy that will see the sector regain the traction it has gained with the introduction of the NAIDP. This will help to fast track the development of the sector.
“Nigeria is very important to the global automotive business as virtually all brands in the industry compete to enter and capture the market. I urge all the stakeholders not to allow the litany of policy somersaults and current economic downturn to squeeze life out of the industry. We cannot afford to always slaughter long term goals at the altar of short term and immediate gain as contained in Section 38 of the Finance Act 2021.”
In a goodwill message he sent, Amb. Ayoola Olukanni, Director General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), commended “the organisers of the fair for putting this event which has become a tradition for the automotive industry together again. I sincerely applaud this initiative because it provides a unique platform for relevant stakeholders such as: manufacturers, dealers and policy makers to display the latest automotive technology, products and services while networking with buyers and relevant stakeholders to consolidate mutually beneficial relationships.”
He said, “The automotive industry is and still remains a key sector in the economy of every nation in the world. There is therefore need for government to pay attention to it and provide support for its growth, with due attention to local auto manufacturing companies.”
He noted that power supply, poor policy implementation, lack of fund, high tariffs, and insecurity have remained pressing challenges facing the economy. “Thus as a leading member of the organized private sector, NACCIMA will continue to advocate for a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.”