Stakeholders advocate strategic alliances in automotive policy to benefit economy

Stakeholders in the maritime industry on Tuesday called for alliances that would benefit the local economy with regards to the national automotive policy.

They made the call at a town hall meeting convened by the National Automotive Council (NAC) in association with Ships and Ports Communication Company in Lagos.
The meeting was to enable the NAC give clarifications to a number of issues that had raised concerns among operators in the maritime industry who deal in importation of vehicles.
Speaking, Chief Kunle Folarin, the Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, said that for critical success of the automotive policy, it should focus on local content to encourage industrialisation in Nigeria.
Folarin said that it was important that the policy should consider programmes and projects to sustain it in order to grow the percentage contribution from industry to the economy.
``With respect to the automotive policy, we must have sustainable growth component.
``The policy must take care of the possibilities, specifically to know what will happen if the rail system becomes effective,” he said.
Mr Fred Akokhia, the Vice-President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) said the totality of the benefit of local content to Nigerians must be considered if the policy was to work.
Akokhia said it was also necessary to consider development in the areas of the policy where Nigeria has comparative advantage.
``We must determine if we are producing for local consumption only or for export.
``It is also important to consider the areas where we have comparative advantage like asking why we have to import tyres when we can manufacture tyres,” the NAGAFF vice-president said.
The Controller-General of Customs (CGC), Dikko Abdullahi, said the automotive policy was geared towards industrialising the nation’s economy.
Abdullahi said the consuming power of the nation was one of the attractions that government considered in developing the policy, adding that Nigeria could consume a reasonable percentage of the vehicles produced.
Represented by an Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, Banke Adeyemo, who is in charge of tariff and trade, the CGC said the nation was tackling the challenge of border control.
He added that the Nigeria Customs had established structures to combat smuggling.
Abdullahi disclosed that from June 1, every shipper importing vehicles must present documents to show the engine and chassis numbers, to enable the customs service properly ascertain their duty.
Also speaking, Mr Eporwei Edike, Controller-in-charge of Apapa Area 1 Command, called for support for the automotive policy.
He said it was important that Nigeria built her own automobile industry as a way of encouraging local manufacturing, creating jobs and working towards industrialisation.
He, however, warned that “there must be transparency for the aims and purpose of the policy to be actualised.”
Earlier, Mr Aminu Jalal, the Director-General of the National Automotive Council, made a presentation of the policy and how it had been designed to work.
Jalal, who was represented by Mr Kolapo Odetoro, an engineer in the Council, clarified that the Council had collected N18 billion, which was kept with the Bank of Industry.
He said the Council had established a mechatronics institute in Esa-Oke in Osun, to encourage the training of manpower to service the sector when the project comes on stream fully.
He also disclosed that a number of lady mechanics had been trained through the Lady Mechanic Initiative in different locations of the country.
He said that “the Nigerian market as it is can support an indigenous automotive industry”.
He said that affordable vehicle programme, vehicle purchase scheme and patronage by government and its agencies would be ensured to sustain the policy.