Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Mr. Samuel Ortom
By Olaolu Olusina
The Federal Government has challenged automobile companies operating in the country to come up with proposals on the establishment of more assembly plants.
Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Mr. Samuel Ortom, who gave the challenge at the opening ceremony of the 14th edition of the Abuja motor show, said the government was ready to support the project for the development of the local auto industry.
Maintaining that the country could not continue to be an importer of all manner of vehicles, Ortom, who said the National Automotive Policy was recently put together to accelerate the development of the sector, stressed that the establishment of local assembly plants was part of its objectives.
"The thrust of the National Automotive Policy is to ensure the survival, growth and development of the Nigerian automotive industry using local and international human and material resources; this is with a view to enhancing the industry's contribution to the economy.
"The targets of this policy include the provision of automotive vehicles for urban and rural areas; accelerated technological development; increased employment opportunities for Nigerians; conservation of scarce foreign exchange; establishment of integrated automotive industry; standardisation and rationalisation of the Nigerian automotive industry; increased private sector participation in the auto industry, and creating conducive operational environment through the introduction of appropriate fiscal and monetary incentives," he said.
The challenge came on a day the Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, also urged stakeholders in the auto industry, especially auto companies, to make input into the proposed national integrated infrastructure master plan.
The minister spoke through the Secretary of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Mr. Fidel Ugbo, at a dinner organised by BKG Exhibitions, organisers of the motor show, for chief executives of auto companies.
He said the master plan had been approved by President Goodluck Jonathan, and added that the plan would bring states and the federal government together to provide efficient infrastructure in a coordinated manner and avoid duplication of projects.
Managing Director, BKG Exhibitions, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Agwu, who gave the theme of this year’s event as “rubbing shoulders”, said the event offered participants the opportunity to showcase their potential promote global partnerships as well as unveil new benchmark for competitiveness.
"It is high time the government intensified the drive for increasing the Nigerian content in the automotive industry. This could be done through initiating and executing policies and programmes that would empower more Nigerians to increase their consumption of brand new automobiles, redressing the parlous state of infrastructural facilities in the country," he said.