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Ben Bruce, Aromolaran chart path to virile auto sector

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.VON gives away made-in-Nigeria Hyundai

Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatization, Senator Ben Murray Bruce and the Chairman of Nigeria Automotive Manufacturers Association (NAMA), who is also the Managing Director of VON Automobile Limited, Tokumbo Aromolaran said unless government wakes up to its responsibilities, the hope that Nigeria will become an automotive manufacturing hub in Africa will remain subtle.

The duo, who insisted that government must become serious with the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP), an initiative introduced by the Federal Government to perk up the automotive industry in order to place Nigeria as a major player, said desired growth in the sector may remain elusive if nothing is urgently done to create enabling environment for the plan.

Nigerians were hopeful to drive in brand new cars, get employed and among other things see transfer of technology when government offered about 30 licences to automakers to assemble vehicles in the country but the contribution of the policy has not been felt as players lamented absence of necessary initiatives that will make the plan succeed.

Speaking in Lagos at an event organised by VON to give away a brand new made-in-Nigeria Hyundai to a Journalist, who work for The Nation Newspaper, Gboyega Alaka, Murray-Bruce said Nigerians deserve a single digit loan that would enable every citizen own a brand vehicle.

During a recent visit of Senate Committee on Privatisation and Bureau of Private Enterprise to VON’s plant, Murray-Bruce had insisted the company conduct a raffle that would see a journalist go home with a made-in-Nigeria Hyundai and Alaka emerged as the winner.

The senator, who said he believed in made-in-Nigeria products, encouraged Nigerians to patronise made-in-Nigeria cars. “But we must create the environment for people to buy made-in-Nigeria cars. The banking sector through the Central Bank of Nigeria should create seven year loans at five per cent interest so that young graduates can buy N4 million car.

“Everybody in a lifetime wants to own a car or have some means of transportation. To produce them in Nigeria is not the issue. We have seen the cars produced here and they are good but the environment is not there,” Murray-Bruce said.

He said the government; particularly the ministry of transportation must think to fix the problems in the sector. Murray-Bruce wants government to insist that all government officials drive made-in-Nigeria cars, adding that the recent ban on vehicle importation through the land borders would not solve the problems in the sector.

He said: “I will do whatever it takes in the National Assembly to make Nigeria a great country. We can’t move forward if young graduates are driving 30-year old cars. Apart from the economy, a modern day car can go about 30 miles per gallon, the tokumbo cars can only give you five miles per gallon.”

Aromolaran, who said the organisation attained at least 30 per cent local content in bus production, saw the firm’s production capacity fall below expectation due to current economic situation and unaddressed challenges in the sector.

He was optimistic that a consumer financing system would create needed market for vehicle and help the sector retain the money used in importing vehicles to develop local industry.

Aromolaran said government is working out a financing system but he was worried that the plan is taking long time than expected. “If the financing system comes on board the production capacity of the plants would be doubled because many people who could afford half of the money to buy a car would key into the plan, he added.

“This is the only country in the world where you must have 100 per cent of your money before you buy a product. Everywhere in the world you can’t pay 100 per cent for a car. You need a financing support built into the system. We don’t have that here so a Nigerian is forced to save for about three years to buy a car,” Aromolaran said.

“The reason I can’t expand my factory is because all of you are driving tokumbo vehicles, if you are driving cars locally made we will create the avenue for additional production and that creates avenue for additional employment, value addition, increase in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the entire chain will improve.”

“If you allow locally assembly plants to grow in the next three years our second hand markets will not be tokumbo but cars produced here,” he stressed

He said Nigerians must endure the pain that its takes for the industry to develop if they must enjoy the benefits of a viable automotive industry.
Aromolaran was optimistic that the efforts of the current administration would be beneficial to the sector.



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