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Engineers seek review of automotive policy, vehicle finance scheme

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Industrial experts have called for a review and amendment of the nation’s automobile policy, and creation of a vehicle finance scheme to tackle downturns in the motoring industry.

They also called for synergy between the industry and academia, to create a critical mass of qualified skill manpower that could support it.

Speaking at a public lecture, titled: ‘Automotive Industry Development in Nigeria’, Chief Executive Officer, Metropolitan Motors Limited, Oluwatoyin Okeowo, regretted the low purchasing powers of the average Nigerian, and the poor state of Vehicle Finance Scheme in the country.

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Okeowo, who was the guest speaker at the event, held in University of Lagos, and organised by Automotive and Locomotive Engineers Institute (AUTOEI), a division of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, Lagos chapter, stressed the need for governments to live up to their responsibility in provision of the needed infrastructure.

He noted that Nigeria with an estimated population of over 200 million, has one of the largest stock of poor people in the world with 80 per cent of the population living on less than $2 per day, while the level of unemployment especially among the youths is put at 46 per cent.

He stressed that the automotive policy failed to achieve its outlined goals and objectives because of inconsistent government policy and bureaucracy, devaluation of the naira, coupled with the scarcity of foreign currency, which made importation of various assembly components very difficult and expensive.

Okeowo called for the enactment of an automotive policy bill that will guarantee a consistent policy around the industry as well as to encourage local content development of component parts like tyres, radiators, batteries, and cables both for the assembling plants and replacement market.

Also, the National Chairman of AUTOEI, Taiwo Oladimeji, said government needs to create industrial hubs to harness the available skills so that Nigeria can make her own brand of cars. He regretted that policy summersault; protection of local industries and opening of our borders for the importation of vehicles played critical roles in the down turn of the once flourishing industry.He further called for regulation that will guarantee technology transfer to Nigeria, as was done in Brazil.

The Chairman of Lagos State Chapter of AUTOEI and lecturer at University of Lagos, Dr. Nehemiah Alozie, said the Institute has already developed appropriate curriculum to galvanise the automotive industry, which is awaiting the University’s approval.

He stressed that Nigerian engineers have the capacity to meet the industry’s need, but government lacked the political will to integrate the human resources for the growth of the sector.He called for partnership and collaboration with established automotive producers like Toyota to move the sector forward by indigenising the product in Nigeria.

On his part, former chairman of National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Tunde Zedomi, called for the formulation of a new encompassing policy that will create jobs for upcoming younger professionals in the automotive industry.He also urged Nigerians to stop glorifying imported vehicles by patronising Nigerian vehicles in order to the increase the economy as well as creating new jobs.

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Oluwatoyin Okeowo
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