THE Federal Government has disbursed over N11 billion to 33 companies in vehicle production business, to kick-off the automotive policy.
The development was disclosed by the Director-General of the National Automotive Council, Aminu Jalal in Abuja, Tuesday.
He said only five of these companies are assembling plants while the remaining are all local content handlers that would engage in the production of tyres, motor cycle spear parts and other sundry vehicle components.
Jalal told journalists during a media chat in Abuja that the move would create a window for an affordable financial scheme for the companies to produce affordable vehicles for Nigerians, such that they would be able to buy a new vehicle assembled in the country for as low as N1.7 million.
The DG, who reiterated the importance of industrialisation said no country of the world had been able to create wealth and get its people out of poverty without industrialization and noted that Nigeria should not be an exception.
He said the automobile sector provides opportunity for Nigeria to industrialise noting that importation of vehicles had only created jobs in other countries other than Nigeria, thereby making Nigerians jobless and poor.
He pointed out that in 2010 alone, Nigeria expended $4 billion on importation of vehicles alone and $3.5 billion in 2012. Jalal said by the time money spent of importation of tyres and spear parts are added, the figures are unimaginable, stressing that expenditure on vehicles and aircraft spear parts are already the second largest users of foreign exchange.
He said the development of vehicle assembling plants in the country would guarantee creation of jobs and put an end to capital flight.
“Our main aim is that within a short while, people would stop buying Tokunbo vehicles, we are not going to force it on people but we are encouraging assembling plants such that they would produce vehicles that people can afford, so naturally the idea of buying Tokunbo vehicles will no longer be attractive to the people”, he added.
On the littering of scrap and accidental vehicles all over the country, Jalal said though handling of such categories of vehicles was not in the automotive policy, but effort is being put in place to liaise with the Japanese governments development agency to the clear and recycle of such vehicles.
According to him, “we have been pursuing a programme with the Japanese government development agency. We are collaborating to set up a pilot vehicle-recycling firm in Abuja. The FCT administration had already provided land for the plant and the machinery is already in japan to be shipped. The only thing remaining is for the Nigeria Company involved to tidy up construction on the land before the equipment is brought in”.
He said this aspect is another way of job creation because Nigerians would be trained on the recycling process and some components of scrap vehicles can again be sold to other end users.
“But vehicle recycling cannot work without a vehicle recycling law. For instance, if you go to police stations, you would see all these vehicles that has been accidented and abandoned but there must be a law that would allow those vehicles to be taken and dispose of them, but so far, there is no such law in Nigeria”.
On the sustainability of standards in the industry, Jalal explained that the automotive plants involved in the policy like Peugeot, Toyota would not trade their integrity for anything adding that any attempt to compromise quality would have a negative effect their reputation.
“If a single person has problem with their vehicle within one year of purchase, you can be sure that the single person would tell ten others and this will have negative effect on the brand, besides there would be competition, so any company that choses to do the wrong thing would not only have itself to blame but would also fold up because no one would patronise such company”.
He said by December this year, all the assembling plants would have started full operation.