The Federal Government has assured vehicle manufacturers of patronage and support in government’s next procurement process.
But government has also tasked the producers to increase their local content to 100 per cent to enable the industry create a large chain of supporting small and medium enterprises.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who received the management of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) Limited in Abuja, yesterday, charged local automobile companies top invest more in research to constantly be in tune with modern realities and also survive intense competition in the larger market.
Onu said: “I know that in the 1980s and early 1990s, Peugeot was a car that most people used all over Nigeria. We are happy that the company was able to help us to develop technology by supporting so many other small and medium small industries that made supplies to it.
“We want you to do more than you have done with local content. We believe that his can be much higher than what you attained in the 1990s. We want a situation where progressively, as we industrialize in the country with our iron and steel sector, functioning, and the petrochemicals also functioning, auto companies should be able to source all their components locally, because that is when the nation will benefit optimally from the establishment of their company in Nigeria, not just those who will be working in the factories, but we will have so many small and medium scale industries that will be supplying components to the companies.”
He highlighted how some of the skills to be garnered from a vibrate automobile industry would have other small and medium scale enterprises.
“The capacities that would be built in the country would be enormous. We can as a country transfer those capacities to other sectors of our economy,” Onu noted.
He pledged that his ministry would lead the campaign for made in Nigeria vehicles, and encouraged Nigerians to follow suit.
His words: “I will like to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians to think and look inwards. We must patronize locally made goods in our country, because that is the only way we can support the industries and encourage existing industries and make them strong. We need it. Other countries have done it, and we should do it. We have a very large market. Nigeria has the largest population, the largest economy and the largest market in Africa.
“There is no reason why our automobile industry is not strong.”He, however, charged the firms to avoid the mistakes of the past by investing heavily in research and development.
The Minister noted: “ If you look at what happened in the past, it is very clear to us that if our automobile industry had done research and developmental work for a period of time, they would have strong enough to even when government opened up the industry to competition from abroad.”
Managing Director of PAN, Mr. Ibrahim Boyi, announced that the company would commence completely knocked down manufacturing this year.
He blamed the collapse of the industry in the past on stoppage of patronage by government even as he sought commitments from Federal and state governments to patronize locally made cars.
He said: “The collapse was not largely due to inadequate research and development. It was as a result of the reversal of government policies. Auto industries globally have developed as a result of very strong and active government policies. Even in developed worlds today, there are countries where you cannot just go and bring in a car today in. So, it is not a matter of lack of research or investment in research. When we were active in Nigeria and the policy was right, we were able to grow local content to 40%. If that policy remained consistent, we would have achieved up to 70-80% local components.
“The petrochemical industry in Nigeria is working today. We are holding that the steel industry will work. Once the two components are working in Nigeria today, we can quickly grow the local content to 70-80%.”
“There is growing passion and interests from federal and state governments to patronize made in Nigeria vehicles. We are glad with that development and we will work very hard to justify that confidence.”