The National Automotive Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (NAMA) yesterday bemoaned the decision of the Senate to acquire imported, fully-built official Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for its members, incurring over 40 per cent extra cost for the country compared to locally made vehicles.
The Chairman of NAMA, Mr. Tokunbo Aromolaran, who made the statement at a press conference in Lagos, however praised the House of Representatives for making the more patriotic and economically viable choice of acquiring their official vehicles from the Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria (PAN), a local manufacturer.
Aromolaran said believing in the patriotic spirit of the elected senators, NAMA members submitted tenders to provide the Senate as well as the House of Representatives with vehicles assembled in Nigeria by Nigerians with globally accepted standards, but was shock to learned of the decision of the Senate to procure imported fully-built SUVs when much more affordable locally assembled alternatives were offered.
“We listened to the pathetic explanation of the Senate House Services Committee chairman, and were filled with nothing but pity for this country. The insensitivity of an elected body could not have been so clearly displayed when you consider the Senate could have saved suffering 40 per cent of the eventual outlay by being patriotic and promoting vehicles assembled by extremely talented and diligent Nigerian workforce.
He noted that the Senate would have secured the continuous employment of about 4,000 Nigerians for a whole year by supporting local industry, maintaining that the patronage alone maybe enough to ensure its successful take-off.
According to him, the Senate would have supported about 50 component manufacturers that supply the auto industry and help create a value chain that typically impacts no less than four other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“Had the Senate not decided to starve the local industry of patronage, it would have helped grow and sustain at least 50 medium scale enterprises whose future revenue streams would flow into our corporate and personal taxation system, helping to sustain the government revenue base. The Senate by this self-centred decision held down the automotive industry for at least four years. A pity indeed,” he added.
He noted that to attain the current state of the auto manufacturing industry, investors who believe in the future of the country and its people have put at risk resources that could have been deployed elsewhere in a globally competitive market, warning that the future of this entity as a viable economic unit is threatened when state resources that could be deployed to create jobs for the nation’s teeming youth, add value to its naturally occuring material base are fittered to oil the ego of but a few.
“It is for reasons like these that Nigerian businessmen have enormous difficulty in convincing global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to see Nigeria as an investment destination. Nigerians that undertake to fund these investments are being stabbed in the back daily by unscrupulous non-value adding importers and compromised government functionaries.
Meanwhile, Arowolaran he applauded the leadership of the House of Representatives for embracing the cause to develop the nation by supporting its industries and putting aside personal aggrandisement at the tough time to procure locally assembled sedan vehicles, saying that by this move, they have identified with the suffering of their brothers and their families.
He said within the next four months, Peugeot cars will roll out of the Kaduna plant to the waiting hands of the people’s representatives, adding that this development will give employment opportunities to hundreds of people, engage local suppliers round the clock, and in turn employ support staff to carry out various sub-contract jobs.
“Value added to our steel products, rubber extracts, glass sheets and plastics from our petrochemical plants will flourish,” NAMA Chairman added.
Also speaking at the event, the Plant Head, Stallion Limited, Mr. Prakash Kharat, said Nigeria has tremendous potentials to develop the auto industry, stating that Nigeria should stop importing things it has the competitive advantage of producing locally.
He added that currently, the auto industry is still struggling to get their inventory sold to support the national economy and provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths.
The Managing Director, Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company Limited, (ANAMCO), Mr. Maduabuchukwu Okeke, said the government must support the auto industry, saying that without the support of the government it will take a long time to achieve any meaningful growth in the sector.