Update on Nigerian inventors, their inventions, challenges and opportunities (IV), by Professor MK Othman

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BreakThrough

In my last week piece, my readers may recall I posed a question “What are the strides of Mr. Aliyu Jelani as the Director-General of the Nigerian Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) three years after his appointment”?

The question was based on his excellent track records few years in United State of America as a famous globally rated best car designer on top echelon of General Motors, which is perhaps the world’s largest automobile maker.

Aliyu Jelani is the designer of the Chevy Volt; a car reputed to be an American Revolution and considered to be one of the apt concepts in the design line.

Globally, Jelani's work was considered to be a masterpiece in the car industry because it was the best selection made out of many entries from renowned automobile designers across the continents.

Concerning the question of performance of the Jelani as the DG of NADDC in the write up, I wrote; “Aliyu Jelani may certainly be an ideal leader with all zeal, dedication and focus to serve in his position of the Director General of NADDC and make the nation excel in the production of affordable, reliable and durable vehicles for Nigeria and Africa.

This is a huge and promising market of automobile industry.

However, Nigeria has a tough environment where several basic infrastructures, taken for granted elsewhere, are either absent or completely not working or epileptically working.

This may be hindering the transformation of his lofty dreams to reality. This is why the question posed earlier “What are his strides three years after his appointment?” is difficult to answer”.

After the article was published, I was made privy to giant strides of Mr. Jelani since taking over as the DG of NADDC.

It is not yet Uhuru but may soon be. Mr. Jelani has seamlessly and saliently unfolding his strategic plan aimed at revolutionizing Nigerian automobile sector while proving his worth as a globally acclaimed genius in the sector, thanks to his odyssey in General Motors.

Thus, Mr. Jelani’s three years in office as the DG of NADDC has been eventful.

First, he developed the National Automotive Industrial Development Plan (NAIDP).

This is a multipronged initiative aims at creating a comprehensive ecosystem necessary for the development and sustainability of the automotive industry in Nigeria.

NAIDP has five key elements that include Investment Promotion, Market Development, and Infrastructural Development for the sector, Skills Development and Standards.

On investment promotion, NADDC organized and sensitized some vehicles assembly companies for massive investment in the Automobile sector.

Over $1billion has been invested by companies such as Dangote-Sino Trucks, Peugeot, Innoson, Honda, Yutong Bus, Nissan and others.

These companies are actively assembling vehicles in Nigeria. Over the years, the global automotive industry has dramatically evolved since the early days of the automobile when individual companies produced every nut and bolt of the car, to date.

Currently, different tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers produce different components as per the original equipment manufacturer with same specifications and standards.

Then, they supply to assembly plant for final production of the whole vehicle. In this regard, one of the most significant investments is that of Peugeot of France and the Kaduna State Government to set up Dangote – Peugeot Nigeria, and they are setting up a new facility in Kaduna.

Another significant one is the NADDC support to Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Co. Ltd, in 2019. With the support, IVM purchased, installed and started operating a semi-automatic Assembly Line at the Company’s factory in Nnewi.

This made the company to reduce the cost of the vehicles assembled on the line by at least 20%and thus reduces the selling price.

In the same year, 2019, Honda introduced the Nigerian assembled HR-V at the same time Peugeot of Kaduna resumed the Assembly of the Peugeot Pickup, this was 14 years after the last assembly of Pickup 504.

The second key area of NAIDP is the Market Development of the automobile sector. Currently, Nigerians find it next to impossible to access vehicle loan facilities from commercial banks to purchase new vehicles because of high interest rate.

Thus, many Nigerians are forced to pay 100% down payment for the imported second hand vehicles called Tokumbos. NADDC sought for a solution to make new vehicles affordable to Nigerians.

Consequently, NADCC under the leadership of Mr. Jelani partnered with Jaiz Bank and signed Memorandum of Agreement (MoA).

This partnership provides a single digit (8%) mark-up (profit margin) to auto finance purchase of locally assembled vehicles as loan to interested Nigerians.

Similar arrangement is extended to other Banks as discussions with Zenith and WEMA have reached advanced levels.

The third important area of the plan is Infrastructural Development for the Automobile sector.

Work and construction have started towards completion of three Automotive Service Hubs located in Owerri, Ondo and Sokoto.

Highly skilled technicians using world-class diagnostic and service equipment would manage these hubs to provide affordable and high quality automotive service and maintenance.

The facilities shall also be Automotive Centres of Excellence for skills training in the automotive sector as well as entrepreneurship centre for youth empowerment and employment generation. The hubs are to be co-managed with sectorial experts.

Industrial and logistics companies are interested as off-takers because of their need for professional service of their huge fleets of logistics vehicles.

The fourth area is skill development. NADDC is currently constructing six Automotive Training Centres, one in each of the six geopolitical zones.

All the centres are at 80% completion. Like the three automotive service hubs, the training centers are aimed at empowering youth in Mechatronics and new age automotive related technologies.

The Automotive Mechatronics Training Centres are located in Gusau representing North West, Bauchi representing North East and Lokoja, North Central.

Others are Oshogbo representing South West, Abakaliki representing South East and Benin representing South South.

No doubt, these centers would decrease the heavy unemployment burden on the nation as well social crimes associated with unemployment. Even before the completion of these training centres, NADDC has So far trained 20,000 with over 5,000 trained in 2019.

The fifth and last pillar of NAIDP is regulation and standards. Nigerians are faced with fake and substandard auto parts in all the markets across nation.

These fakes and substandard spare parts are responsible to about 40% of road accidents as they failed when vehicles are top speed or at wrong places.

NAIDP has 90% completed the construction of three different Automotive Test Centres at different towns; Lagos, Enugu and Zaria.

The three are Emissions Test Centre located in Lagos, Components Test Centre located in Enugu and Materials Test Laboratory located in Zaria, which will leverage on the use of facilities in the Faculty of Engineering in ABU Zaria.

Soon, NADDC will have to certify automobile spare parts before they are made available in the markets, just like what NAFDAC does for food and drugs.

In addition to NAIDP, NADDC has just developed an App called “NADDC AutoFix”, it is a free mobile app that would help vehicle owners or users to locate and give directions to certified auto mechanics and technicians.

This App is certainly a useful tool that can help Nigerians differentiate between professional mechanics and quacks.

In summary, so far, NADDC is currently working on ten Capital projects spread across the nation to further strengthen the Automotive industry and sector.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that a lot of water has passed under the bridge and NADDC is on top gear in the path of glory to achieve self- sufficiency in the nation’s automobile market demands.

When this feat is achieved, the associated benefits will be massive employments in the auto sector, wealth creation and increase in hard currency earning to the nation through reduction in the importation of vehicles and exportation of locally manufactured ones.

This is a great dream to the nation’s automobile sector akin to Nigerians being driven to El Dorado by the chief driver, Mr. Aliyu Jelani, the famous American car designer. Yes, the chief driver has to concertedly and consistently work hard to achieve this lofty dream.

While fervently praying for his success, our success, Mr. Jelani cannot afford to fail the nation. Wish him best of luck.

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