Nigeria in time past used to be a hub for Automobile Assembling at least in West Africa. Not only did it boast of virile Assembly plants then, but it also was able to manufacture quality automobile spare parts and products. Nigeria has since lost all that to neighbouring Ghana and the rest of West Africa and elsewhere, chiefly because of power and other infrastructural deficits, the Michelin tyres readily come to mind in this instance, as they prefer to make other countries in Africa their manufacturing hubs, while Nigeria becomes their market and dumping ground for substandard products.
The Volkswagen and Peugeot Assembly plants, including the Anambra Auto Manufacturing Company (Annamco), use to be foremost then, talking of the 80s and 90s with full Government financial backing and support.
However, the Volkswagen and Annamco Assembly plants have become moribund, leaving the Peugeot plant struggling to survive the onslaught of imported brands.
The advent of wholly indigenous private auto manufacturing brands especially Innoson Vehicles has thrown a serious challenge to an Automobile manufacturing business in Nigeria, spurring other indigenous auto brands to spring up.
Recently, Lagos State Governor, launched Nigeria’s first Electric car, wholly assembled in Nigeria, owned by Stallion Group.
The Auto plant is geared towards moving Nigeria into the era of non-reliance on PMS propelled cars to Electric propelled vehicles with zero tolerance to carbon emission. Asides from helping Nigeria get out of the persistent fuel crises, it is also important for Nigeria to see that as a Technological breakthrough of some sort in order not to be left behind in the world of modern technological drive and inventions.
Other brands are Innoson vehicles, Proforce, and Nord Vehicles, etc. Proforce is noted for building military and security utility vehicles and Innoson is also noted for that, asides from building a range of other vehicles to meet the needs of Nigerians.
The future may be indeed bright for indigenous auto brands only if Government and Nigerians help these brands to survive by looking in their directions and patronising them as against foreign brands.
The Nord Automobile brand set to be launched into the Nigerian market as reported guarantees real value for money and made for Nigeria’s peculiar needs. The Nord Flit Minibus for example comes with loaded and arrays of features similar to foreign brands such as Toyota Hiace. It possesses features such as Toyota Hiace big body type, it also comes with an anti-lock brake system, good legroom, comfortable seats, high root air-conditioning system, led lights, etc. It comes with 3 years warranty, according to the Chairman\CEO of Nord Automobiles Limited Mr. Oluwatobi Ajayi.
Innoson’s brand of vehicles also shares similar features with foreign brands just to conform with foreign standards and regulations when exported to other countries, even though the local market is big enough to adequately sustain its ever-growing automobile manufacturing base if the right policies are given to support their growth.
These features listed above may be considered as good enough to give a comfortable ride to anyone in possession of our locally assembled brands. However, the responsibility also lies with these local manufacturers to make their brands durable because Nigerians are after brands that give them durability and to some extent class and that explains why they always desire foreign brands. Local automobile manufacturers can help their brands soar if they keep to the standard.
Patronising Local Auto Brands will have the following impact
- Reduction in foreign dependency for our Automobile needs: Nigerians by this will not necessarily need to search for foreign brands that are perhaps costly and are costly to maintain. It will grow the economy.
- This will lead to massive job creation for teeming youths that will be engaged directly or indirectly throughout the production chain.
- If well annexed, indigenous automobile brands can become a source of foreign exchange through the exportation of quality brands that will bring in dollars instead of searching for dollars to import foreign brands.
- Affords Nigeria the opportunity to use new vehicles instead of second hand or badly used imported vehicles.
- Promotes local content development through sourcing for local materials to develop Nigeria’s local brand of an automobile for its local needs.
- Instill healthy rivalry amongst local competitors in the automobile market. This will help indigenous manufacturers compete favourably in order to meet up with the automobile needs of Nigerians.
- Reduction of Import; it will help Nigeria’s economy to reduce its level of import dependence as Nigerians will get used to their own product and at the same time instill patriotism.
The government often at times show some levels of disregard for indigenous technology as this remains a bane to realizing a sustainable growth of private indigenous auto brands. The Good luck Jonathan era in a bid to encouraging private auto brands ordered the use of Innoson Vehicles use by Ministries, Agencies, and Department of Government for its operations. Such policies however weren’t sustained by Buhari’s government, except pockets of state Governors and individuals, such as Hope Uzodinma of IMO State and some public entities including traditional rulers ordering for the Innoson brand. In addition, most Nigerians still don’t trust anything made in Nigeria and this factor is also key. The government must come up with legislations that will support made in Nigeria products.
The Government should start by patronising these indigenous brands at least for use in its Agencies, Departments, and Ministries as this will encourage the citizens to also patronise them. This remains the surest way of making our homegrown auto brands and technology relevant at home and abroad.
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