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New auto policy: Time will tell

Published by Tribune on Fri, 29 Aug 2014

constriction work, most of the time begins with demolition and removal of debris and fragments of structures earmarked for improvement. In the construction of roads, trees are pulled down, old drainages dismantled, farmlands encroached upon and roads that were hitherto navigable, albeit painfully, suddenly become barely passable, at times impassable, because of construction activities. And while this lasts, some discomfort is felt, and it takes a discerning mind to understand that the slight discomfort experienced eventually leads to enduring wellbeing.Change, we understand, is often resisted in every part of the world because people prefer to stick to the status quo. It becomes more worrisome when such change, no matter how temporary, adversely affects some institutions and peoples. In most situations, change with long-term positive effects simply requires participants to carefully study the value-chain and reposition a few activities to fit into the new and improved scenario. But then, most are too lazy and/or short-sighted to reassess their operations and adjust as required. They immediately advocate the baby be thrown away with the bath water. Such is the situation of some low-value adding businesses that have spared no efforts of late to attack the positively evolving auto policy.It is indeed bothersome that the new auto policy, developed as part of a robust Federal government strategic initiative to reposition Nigerian industrialisation and energise our work force in a wholesome manner, is being strenuously attacked by a few individuals who have exploited and profiteered from the rot that has bedevilled the automotive sector over the years. We want to believe that these individuals are engaged in dead-end segment of the industry, with little value-addition to the economy and can thus be sidetracked without much economic loss. We quite understand they provide some means of livelihood for these people. This notwithstanding, the larger economy cannot continue to be sub-optimal to satisfy these fringe activities.Fear of change and purely selfish and unwarranted prejudices have not enabled them to objectively assess the intent, provisions and implications of the auto policy, as most of the questions and fears they constantly express were anticipated and are adequately addressed by the policy. Suffice it to say that these fears are being daily debunked by positive developments deriving from the take-off of the auto policy.They started this campaign of calumny by first asserting that the auto companies in Nigeria lack the manpower and infrastructure to assemble vehicles.When will the manpower develop if we do not start and where did the assembly plants in operation in the eighties derive their manpower' What manpower maintains the 4 million foreign vehicles, most of them imported in a near junk state, which ply Nigerian roads today' What industries are in place to receive the hundreds of thousands of engineering graduates produced from our universities year on year'And our state of infrastructure- when will our infrastructure be rife for effective assembly operations. Maybe we should stop importing luxury cars and technically complex electronics as we do not have the road and power infrastructure respectively to properly run them. What industry waits for full infrastructure to be in place before it starts to develop its various facets'Truth is these protagonists have little idea of the infrastructure requirements of assembly operations and much less idea of the value-chain created by this industry. More pitiful still is their inability to envision how they will better prosper by fully studying and embracing the industrialisation project, a segment of which the auto policy projects.Indeed, current reported and verified developments prove them wrong.Stallion Nissan company rolled out its assembled-in-Nigeria vehicles as planned in April 2014. It showcased the popular B-segment saloon car, The Almera (Nissan Sunny). It also presented the Nissan MP300 Hardbody pick up and the top end Nissan patrol assembled in Nigeria.The Hyundai Nigeria Ltd is producing the A Segment i10 and is billed to roll out the Xcent and ix35 before the year end. The i10 pricing, brand new, will range from N1.6m to N2.00m.PAN Kaduna launched its B segment saloon cars, the Peugeot 301, first week July 2014. Two other models, Peugeot 305 and Peugeot 307 are closely following in the pipeline. Innoson Group of Companies said it will introduce brand new cars into the Nigerian automobile market at the cost of N1.5million only, with the highest of such vehicles going for N3.5million only.Vehicle importation figures to June 30 2014 shows that more brand new vehicles have come into the country by mid-year than was imported in the whole of 2013. The clearly secures the supply side of the auto market.Udom lives in Lagos.
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