In 2013, the federal government deemed it necessary to revamp the moribund auto industry by way of introducing measures and policies to assist the sector come out of the woods.
Chief among these measures was the introduction of the new auto policy tagged National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) to be implemented by the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC).
According to the NADDC, “the focal point of the plan is economic development through employment creation, GDP contribution, economic linkages, development of the small, medium and micro-enterprises (SME) in the sector, skills development as well as innovation and technology transfer.
“In order to ensure competitiveness and increased productivity, the NAIDP has several key elements. They include provision and development of industrial infrastructure, skills development, development and adoption of Standards, investment promotion and market development.”
In pursuit of this policy implementation, the NADDC has in the past three years, made a hand full of achievements, mainly bringing to the consciousness of auto distributors and dealers that there is need to invest in building local industry rather than only depending on importation.
The policy has also forced some auto companies to invest in the setting up of Semi Knock Down auto assembly lines, though most of these plants are hardly functional.
Importantly, a review of the policy after three years shows clearly that it is far from achieving its desired objectives of revamping the local auto industry. The partial implementation of the policy has forced companies to invest in plants which are not producing.
NADDC has also not been able to consummate the much talked about financing scheme in collaboration with a South African bank, as this was suppose to ease the purchasing of locally assembled vehicles.
Players in the industry have also frowned at the scenario where the auto parts industries are hardly available, hence, almost all the parts are imported. Question is-Are we truly making vehicles in Nigeria?
Also, based on past experience, auto industry operators had also advised the government to back the policy with legislation, but three years down the road, the proposal is still in the pipeline.
The immediate past Director General of NADDC, Engr. Aminu Jalal, made spirited efforts to pursue the policy, but it was very obvious that the political will from higher powers was not sufficient.
As the new DG of NADDC, Jelani Aliyu takes charge, it is expected that he should go back to the drawing board with relevant government agencies to rejig the policy.
It may not be far from the truth to say the policy has brought more uncertainty and gloom to the auto market and by extension, buyers of vehicles, than the little gains achieve. Hence, we cannot throw away the baby and the bath water, we should not discard the policy, rather we should do a complete review.