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‘Low patronage stalls locally assembled vehicles, sectoral growth’

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Vice President Business Development · Kia Motors Corporation, Olu Tikolo (left); Founder, On-the-Highway Africa and Project Director, Highway Accident Victims Relief, Julie Chi- Nwaoha; Managing Director, BKG Exhibitions Limited, Ifeanyichukwu Agwu; Director-General, NADDC, Jelani Aliyu and General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Communication, Coscharis Group, Babarinde Abiona at the opening of 15th Lagos Motor Fair in Lagos. PHOTO: BENJAMIN ALADE

•Lagos motor fair records low turnout
The Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Jelani Aliyu, has said Nigeria has infrastructure for locally assembled vehicles, but for lack of patronage.

Aliyu, at the opening of 15th Lagos Motor Fair in Lagos, said assembling vehicles locally, especially in Lagos, means a lot for the Nigerian market with regards to value addition.

He said these are the types of development the Federal Government, through the NADDC and Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, would continue to support.

He said government believes the only viable future for Nigeria is industrialisation and the sector plays a significant role in the growth of the nation.

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His words: “There is infrastructure on ground. When you look at vehicles at the fair, these companies and more have invested over N500 billion in their plants and factories. So, they believe in the Nigerian market.

“The ability to build these vehicles exists, it is not something we are chasing and it is not something that will happen in the next five or 10 years. It exists already but Nigerians, who would buy these vehicles, would be surprised by the high percentage of Nigerian-made vehicles on the roads.”

Aliyu said the industry and stakeholders are ready and have always been assembling vehicles in Nigeria, but the challenge has been patronage, adding that “if we can unlock the local demand, I think we would be going a million miles an hour.”

Speaking on the country’s drive towards electric vehicles, he said: “Electric vehicles are already here, for Nigeria, electric vehicles are not just a future, they are the now.

“When you really analyse and scientifically understand electric vehicles, they are better for us practically and socially. We are people that aren’t into maintenance; electric vehicles allow you to run a million miles without much maintenance.

“So, we can do it and we are doing it. Very soon, we would be commissioning for Lagos the first solar power electric vehicle charging station. NADDC is going beyond production of electric vehicles, we are also looking at the infrastructure. Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind. We believe what has been done in other places can easily be replicated here. It is not a tall order. It is something that Nigerians and others committed to development can easily do,” he said.

However, the 15th edition of the fair organised by BKG Exhibitions Limited recorded low turn out of vehicles courtesy of the ailing industry.

Unlike other editions where over 50 vehicles would be on display by different OEMs and dealers, the fair witnessed low display of cars and SUVs from Mikano Motors, Kia, OMAA, Jet Systems and Coscharis Motors.

Massilia Motors, distributors of Mitsubishi Motors; CFAO/Suzuki, Stallion Motors, dealers of over seven brands; Westar Limited, dealers of Mercedes, Toyota Nigeria Limited amongst others were absent.

General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Communication, Coscharis Group, Babarinde Abiona, said the event was not a jamboree but an opportunity to showcase what is new in the sector.

He appealed to the government to create an enabling environment and policy that supports the business, that makes the automotive industry a viable economy.

He said the entry of more players in the industry shows there is a win-win solution for everyone.

Alluding to the poor turnout at the fair, Managing Director, BKG Exhibitions Limited, Ifeanyichukwu Agwu, said it is indeed a seriously challenging time in the automotive industry in Nigeria.

Agwu said it is a season that has thrown up more challenges than ever before. A lot of companies have closed shop while a large number are merely existing and in dire need of life supports.

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This, he said, can be confirmed by the number of exhibitors in this year’s edition.

He said: “Ordinarily it is the delight and wish of any serious player in the industry to showcase amongst others but here we are witnessing the opposite.

“All relevant stakeholders must join hands and release the synergy that will see the sector regain the traction it has gained with the introduction of NAIDP. This will help to fast track the development of the sector.

He said Nigeria is very important to the global automotive business as virtually all brands in the industry compete to enter and capture the market.

He urged stakeholders not to allow the litany of policy somersaults and current economic downturn squeeze life out of the industry.

“We cannot afford to always slaughter long term goals at the altar of short term and immediate gain as contained in Section 38 of the Finance Act 2021,” Agwu said.

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