President Bola Ahmed Tinubu penultimate week sacked all heads of agencies under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Among them was the Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Mr. Jelani Aliyu who unfortunately did not complete his second term as the helmsman of the auto industry regulator.
By virtue of his second term appointment by former President Muhammadu Buhari, his tenure was to elapse by April 2025 but this has been cut short by the gale of sacks and replacements across the country.
Oluwemimo Joseph-Osanipin has been appointed as his successor.
Incidentally, the successor is not a greenhorn in the industry. Until his appointment, he was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Jet Systems Auto Company, a wholly Nigerian auto company involved in vehicle assembling.
So as a player in the industry before moving to the other side, it is expected that the new helmsman knows where the shoe pinches.
Coming at a time auto assemblers, dealers and distributors are facing existential challenges worsened by the economic downturn, the new NADDC boss sure has his work cut out for him in providing the enabling environment for seamless operations by automotive manufacturers.
Of significant importance is the delay in the implementation of the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP), which has suffered over a decade of neglect.
The NAIDP also known as the Auto Policy provides the framework for operators in the industry. It is a legal instrument that provides the direction for potential investors. It is an instrument providing legal backing for the operators. Therefore, the potential investors, especially the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been skeptical about putting their resources in an industry without a clear-cut policy.
The 8th Senate led by Senator Bukola Saraki had passed the auto policy bill but the former president refused to assent to it citing conflict with some existing trade regulations. It was meant to be redrafted as an executive bill and sent back to the National Assembly for legislative work.
The last administration promised to send it back before the expiration of its tenure but this was not achieved until a new government came to power.
Stakeholders say without the auto policy, the necessary investment cannot be realised. The industry has suffered undue drift over the absence of the auto policy. Ghana had attracted reputable OEMs on account of implementing the auto policy, which was passed within a year while Nigeria’s version of the policy is still plagued with uncertainty.
Auto manufacturing has been impaired as the manufacturers had to convert their technicians to after sale attendants when manufacturing is no longer sustainable. The used car segment is now the most potent as purchasing a brand new car has become impossible for most Nigerians.
Avaliable records indicate that the brand new cars sell about 12,000 and the used cars sell 500,000 units annually. Stakeholders say the figure is a reflection of the downturn in the economy and the underperformance of the industry.
Nigeria is also lagging behind in the implementation of sustainable mobility policy, which the electric vehicle programme guarantees.
Will the new helmsman be able to navigate through these minefields and make a difference, only time will tell?
A former acting DG of the NADDC, Mr. Mamudu Lukman in a chat with our correspondent said the new DG must engage regularly with stakeholders to succeed.
On the delayed NAIDP, he said, “The NAIDP launched in 2014 is still in effect to the best of my knowledge. There was a review version approved by the immediate past FEC. The new DG can start by ensuring that this automotive program (NAIDP2), which is about the same as the 2014 version, except for the EV component, is passed and made an act. This is a critical requirement for investors’ confidence.
“The NAIDP programs have been generally abandoned by the previous DG even as billions of naira had been sunk into them. These include the automotive test laboratories in Lagos, Enugu and Zaria, the automotive low-cost credit purchase scheme for Made in Nigeria vehicles, the automotive suppliers park’s for which over a billion naira has been expended for land acquisition in Kaduna, Oshogbo and Nnewi and the electronic legacy data platform for the automotive industry. The new DG should revisit them and ensure implementation.
“The Implementationof NAIDP was more or less cut short. For effective implementation, NADDC should closely engage all stakeholders, especially the National Automotive Manufacturers Association (NAMA).