‘Mode of implementation of Nigeria’s auto policy is wrong’
Prince Ajibola Adedoyin is the National President of the Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria and the Chief Executive Officer of Mitchel Automobile Limited. In this interview with KINGSLEY JEREMIAH, he discusses germane issues in the automotive sector in Nigeria.
Is the automotive policy a threat to the use car market?
We are not against the policy. We want our country to be a car manufacturing country. But the mode of implementation is wrong. When you have a child that has not started crawling and you want him to start walking then you are putting him into trouble. There are countries that have done this and they made sure the sector is robust enough. They did analysis and ensured that their rail system is very good and could serve about 50 per cent of their population. In Nigeria, the infrastructure is not on ground. Do you know why the tyre manufacturing companies could not survive? We don’t have a single tyre manufacturing company in Nigeria. All we do is to bring in semi and complete knockdown parts and because of that we want to stop what is available to people. That is not good enough, we are expected to wait and see that the environment is convenient for people.
How has the automotive policy affected business for used cars?
It has really affected our business. The policy does not match with Nigeria’s economic reality. Cars that were sold for N1 million is now N2 million. Transportation is a major challenge in the country and most Nigerians rely on the used car market to fuel economic activities but the situation has affected their buying power. Considering that more than 90 per cent of the vehicles in the transport sectors are belong to individuals and these vehicles are mainly fairly use. So, whatever affects the used car market affects the transport sector and the economy at large. There are four main forms of transportation in this country but unfortunately water and rail sector are nowhere to be found, leaving the road transport as the basic hope of the common man because the air transportation is not also accessible to ordinary Nigerians. More than 170 million Nigerians rely on road transportation.
There have been complaint on standard of the fairly use vehicles imported into Nigeria in recent time, what is your association doing about this?
If we have agencies in other countries who check the standard of goods at port of entry why is our case different? If the people are not doing their work in Nigeria, what do you expect? Government should ensure that the agencies in charge of standard and duty perform their responsibility to the benefits of the economy. If you like it or not even in the areas of brand new cars there will be issue of standard. There should be an agency that should take responsibility over those things. That is why we said we can build ports on every land borders. That will create a lot of activities for our people. These are things that create jobs in neighbouring countries like Benin Republic. We would end up creating thousands of jobs across land borders if we build ports there and it will end up as a win-win situation.
What is your assessment of the ban on vehicle importation through the land border?
We have earlier said that it will not serve the best interest of our action. The reason for the policy was because they find it difficult to collect duties from cars importers that use land borders. We have made a proposal on the way out such that the economic activities at the land borders that create jobs for people are not lost. But government did not listen to us. Remember that unemployment is a major concern in this country. The ban of vehicles through the land borders is not going to solve any problem because those who are not paying duties will find other illegal means to bring in those vehicles. What government should have done is to look for a way to ensure that taxes are collected from all vehicles coming through the land borders. Again the duties should be reduce in such a manner that people can pay. If you sell something for about N100 and a million people can pay than charging N1000 and only one person can pay. The high amount of duty paid on vehicle is killing the market in Nigeria and creating fortune for our neighbouring countries.
What prompted your association into signing pact with the Nigeria Police Force?
The pact is not just about motor dealers and the Nigeria police. It is for Nigerians populace. What prompted motor dealers to bring up that proposal was because of the way cars are being stolen in Nigeria and we want to make sure that we find a lasting solution. Our members are being affected when vehicles are stolen though they are they are innocent in most occasion. So the new initiative will make it difficult for armed rubber to steal a car and sell in Nigeria. We believe that if there is no market for stolen vehicles, people will not steal. Police is the best agency to partner with because they have the data of vehicles in Nigeria. So the agreement ensures that members of the association in buying and selling can verify to determine if vehicles are stolen or not. It will help to save the money, man-hour loss the process of recovering stolen vehicles. It will also create confidence in the market for seller and buyer.
How has the current economic situation in the country affected business for you?
Car business has been drastically affected. But the luxury segment is worst hit. Vehicles are necessity, particularly in a country like ours where mass transportation is nothing to write home about. We may not have been in recession if the transport sector was taking as a priority.
So how do you think the use car market can be positioned to the economy benefit of the country?
That is what we are clamouring for. That is why we are launching initiatives and partnerships, especially with government agencies because without their support it will be difficult. The recent MoU with the Police is first step in the right direction. We are seriously working on the standard too. If we can work with those in charge of the standard at the border, we would ensure that only vehicles of certain standard make it to the country. Again, we need collaboration to succeed, if that is not achieved it will be difficult to position the sector well.