By Steve Agbota
Stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to effectively implement policies that govern the establishment of automobile industries in Nigeria to support imposition of high tariff on imported vehicles.
They argued it was what countries like Russia, India, France and Malaysian government did to discourage the importation of foreign cars. Nigeria estimated to be losing $6.5 billion to automobile import market annually, which Nigeria can save if the local industry is fully developed and import ceases.
The huge capital flight out of the country in the automotive industry has mammoth impact on job creation and loss to the nation’s economy. However, imports of spare parts, including sub-standard ones, and finished vehicles have continued to impact negatively on the industry.
Speaking at the at the maiden Nigeria Annual Automobile Award (NAAA) conference organised by Automobile Search Nigeria Limited in Lagos, an Associate Professor, Industrial Technology Education, University of Benin, Omofonmwan Godwin Osaro said, that automotive industry plays other strategic and catalytic role in economic linkages, on raw materials and local industrialisation, Small, Medium and Micro-Enterprises (SME), skills development, technology and innovations, job creation, and savings in foreign exchange.
According to him, it is believed that if adequate steps are taken, the automobile technology sector in no distant time would boost the nation’s economy and create multiple employments for the unemployed youths.
Speaking on the way forward, he advised that the tax placed on the purchase of brand new cars in the country should be reduced, to encourage the buying of Nigerian made vehicles. Adding that government should increase the tariff on the importation of foreign made vehicles to discourage importation of non-Nigerian made car.
Ifeanyi Obasi, publisher of Autosearch magazine said there is need for government to implement a workable policy that will enable Nigerians drive brand new car because the automobile industry is the second largest employer of labour in the whole world after construction industry.
He added: “If we keep driving Tokunbo cars, how will Nigeria generate employment for the youths?”
There are over a million people that are gainfully employed today in automobile sector and if it is well regulated by the government.”
it would provide more employment opportunities for the nation’s teeming youths.
“The automotive policy that is in place is to ensure that Nigerians drive new cars and local manufacturers are key in but the problem is the used car called tokunbo cars that are coming in not giving the local manufacturers to make sales. For instance, if you are supposed to produce 10,000 cars in a year, you find out that it turning out to about 2000 to 3000, which is not good for the industry.”
Also speaking at the event, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce lamented that in automobile industry, the government is giving Nigerians no plan and no direction. Saying the automobile policy exist in Nigeria today is as old as 50 years old policy, which make no sense.
He stressed: “The policy we have in Nigeria is like 1945 and 1960. How do you help people in today’s world, you have a policy where you charge 25 per cent for young people to buy a car? You charge 70 per cent for cars to come into the country…where as Nigeria become a dumping ground for Asia, Europe, North America, where for a young graduate, his aspiration is to buy a 50 years old car.”
He called on government to implement policy that will regulate automobile industry and will allow Nigerians to drive a brand new car at affordable rate. He also urged government to embrace electric cars for Nigerians, as it is cheaper to maintain and drive.