By Raheem Akingbolu
Stakeholders in the auto industry, including the Director General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council, Engr. Aminu Jalal, have emphasised the need for Nigerian consumers to patronise Made in Nigeria products to help the economy.
Speaking as the guest of honour at the inauguration of a new factory to produce brake pads and linings at Navy Town, Lagos, Jalal, said Nigerian brands could become global brands only when Nigerian consumers appreciate and patronise them. The factory was established by Star Auto Industries Limited, a leading manufacturer of spare parts in the country.
“We all talk about building global brands but our actions are totally against such goal. Every day, we go to the market and overlook Nigerian products. The truth is that nobody will consume our products if we don’t consume it. Today, Nigeria music and home video are in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria basically because we appreciate it and consume it ourselves,” he said.
While declaring the factory opened, Jalal commended the effort of the chairman of Star Auto Industries Limited, Chidi Ukachukwu, and his team, for their consistent and commitment to the manufacturing sector, despite the economic challenges currently facing the country. The DG, who expressed the desire of the council to partner with Star Auto to take the company to the next level, said he had been in close contact with Star Auto Industries Limited for many years.
“I have always been a friend of the company for many years, especially the chairman, Chidi Ukachukwu, and I know how committed the company is to manufacturing of quality goods. Over the years, Ukachukwu has explored the manufacturing spaces in Ibadan, Lagos and other places, which makes the terrain easy for him to tread. With the opening of the Brake Pads and Linings factory here in Navy Town, I’m convinced that this will go a long way in cushioning the effect of harsh economy in the country as well as bringing spare parts close to vehicle owners,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Star Auto, Mrs. Ngozi Ukachukwu, said the establishment of the company was in line with the aspiration of the current administration to encourage Made in Nigeria goods.
While assuring Nigerians that the company was committed at manufacturing brake pads and linings for Nigerians at competitive prices, the managing director expressed the determination of the management of the company to serve Nigeria and Nigerians with the new factory in the area of revenue generation, employment opportunities and manufacturing of quality products for Nigerians.
According to her, “Star Auto is going to create jobs; we previously had over 200 staff and we intend to grow to levels and the capacity exists to increase our strength in the near term. Our operations are also in line with the current monetary and fiscal policies of the government of the day. About 60 per cent of our raw materials can presently be sourced locally.
We expect that our optimal operations will reduce the amount of foreign exchange demanded for the importation of brake pads.”
Ukachukwu further stated that the company was currently partnering with a government agency and a couple of educational institutions to carry out independent research and testing. According to her, these include research in local resin production and replacement of certain materials with local alternatives extracted from Palm Kernels. It is expected that these efforts would yield results and further reduce the company’s imported raw materials component to 20 per cent over the next two years.
The managing director, who disclosed that the foundation of the factory was laid in January 2015, stated that the company had mapped out some business and marketing strategies that would enable it survive the tough economic regime the country is currently undergoing.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Engr. Tunde Zedomi, who was represented at the event by Engr. Kayode Akinsowon, had commended the doggedness of the Ukachukwus and pointed out that brake pads and linings, which are the major items that would be coming out of the factory, are part of the major items required in any automobile.
“They are precision parts, which must be manufactured to acceptable world standards and their manufacturing ingredients are specially sorted so as to avoid any unforeseen malfunctions of any particular batch,” he said.
On the need for the management of the company to follow the rules and regulations that guides the military environment, Capt. A.E. Olorogun, said Navy Authority abhors embarrassment and therefore called on Star Auto management to produce quality goods as well as promoting healthy and safety environment.