Nigeria And The Endless Wait For Automobile Sector
Posted: 11/Apr/2022

It could be recalled that sometime ago, precisely on 3rd September 2018, the Nigerian Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari graciously signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the German Volkswagen Group with a view to developing an automobile hub in the country.

The two countries involved, Nigeria and Germany, were reportedly to come up with an enabling policy framework on the proposed project.

It’s noteworthy that under the bilateral arrangement, the automobile firm is expected to implement a phased approach in relation to assembly of vehicles down to positioning the nation as an automobile hub in the entire West Africa region.

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Lest I forget, in regard to vehicles’ assemblage as mentioned in the pact, the government must take into cognizance that there’s a need to go the extra mile towards reviving the country’s dying pride if they are really ready to invest in the said sector.

As we might have forgotten in haste, it’s highly imperative to recall that some of these vehicles – particularly Peugeot products – were previously being assembled in Nigeria but the lofty activity has now regrettably gone into moribund.

This, therefore, implies that the FG is required to look inwards with a view to resuscitating and boosting the aforesaid practice, which is currently considered as a lost glory. In a bid for an automobile hub, they must make frantic efforts to reawaken the seeming dead foundation.

The pact equally includes raising a training academy in conjunction with the German government with the sole aim of equipping the upcoming pioneer employees of the impending industry with requisite skills as well as imbuing them with the needed industrial qualities.

Definitely, establishing an academy to train the indigenous prospective workers that would kick start the hub is a welcome development. It’s thus needless to state that the MOU included the key recipe with regard to the awaited industry.

However, the bitter truth is that such an approach is liable to collapse on arrival if the stakeholders involved failed to consider the essential factors required for its functionality. Hence, the parties in charge of the initiative must leave no stone unturned towards doing the needful.

It’s similarly pertinent for the government to acknowledge that such an academy deserves to be sustained in the long run. In view of this idea, the institute shouldn’t be utilized only in the case of the ‘pioneer employees’. Thus, it ought to be retained with a view to training subsequent intakes as well as upgrading the skills of those already absorbed in the system.

Recalling other clauses contained in the pact, it’s worthy of note that the FG on its part is to ensure that the Nigerian Automotive Policy, which is currently under consideration, gets a speedy approval from the apt quarters. The policy, though still in the pipeline, includes the gradual transition from the importation of used cars to the manufacturing and distribution of new passenger vehicles.

It’s not anymore news that overtime issues regarding policies have bedeviled most of the activities taking place in the country. Acknowledgement of this recurring decimal indicates that the concerned stakeholders are required to go extra mile in their move to ensure that the lofty motive of the FG is duly actualized.

It’s on this premise that I suggest the authorities involved painstakingly consider all the needed parameters as they prepare the policy. Every required factor, ranging from setting up the hub, training academy, in-service workshop/training, to working incentives cum environment, must be holistically looked into so that nothing absolutely would be missing in the process.

It’s really saddening to note that three years down the line after the pronouncement, nothing tangible has been done by the relevant authorities to walk the talk. Hence, the government must comprehend that the citizenry are seriously looking up to them.

The legislators need to be duly lobbied in a quest to witness a healthy deliberation as regards the needed legislation. In his words, an Adviser in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Bisi Daniels disclosed that the government was committed to providing a conducive legislative environment for the production of automobiles in the country.

I deem it fit to advise that such a commitment must be fully put into action if the FG is truly determined to create an industry where Nigerians as a people could boast of production of automobile machines that can be presented as well as used anywhere in the world.

As regards the sealed deal, the Minister of the said ministry, Dr. Okechukwu Emelamah strongly affirmed that the MOU was a major step in the FG’s quest for a robust automotive industry in the country, hence assured that the government was damn prepared to achieve the tech-driven objective.

The gospel truth is that everything centres on the political will that accompanies the quest. Against this backdrop, for the tour in question to arrive at the desired destination, the government must not claim ignorance of the fact that what’s primarily of importance at this point is to support the recently embarked journey with the required will.

This is actually the time for the government to genuinely support the already existing private-owned automobile hubs in Nigeria, such as the Innoson Motors and what have you, in a bid to ensure they excel in their respective activities that’s targeted to boost the country’s economy.

Inter alia, for a thorough emergence and sustenance of the industry in question, the country’s education sector must also be involved. Hence, our technically-inclined students need to be brought closer to realities. It’s appalling and pathetic to understand that our teeming graduates in the field of Mechanical Engineering and allied disciplines cannot present the mechanisms that constitute main parts of an automobile let alone manufacturing them.

It’s no longer news that in recent times, successive governments had made various worthwhile and commendable moves but in the long run, ended up not actualizing the object of the initiative, owing to their inability to accompany the approach with candid practical steps.

As Nigerians anxiously await the new era, it’s inconsequential to remind the government that it’s expected to make a difference by acting differently.

About the Author
Comrade Fred Nwaozor is a Nigerian tech expert, researcher, columnist, policy analyst, content writer, prolific creative author, media icon, motivational speaker & rights activist. He's the Founder, DeepiTech Consult. Email: frednwaozor@gmail.com