• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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How Nigeria’s economic distress stalled auto industry’s growth – R.T Briscoe Boss

How Nigeria’s economic distress stalled auto industry’s growth – R.T Briscoe Boss

The dip in the country’s economy especially after the 1970’s and 80’s has hurt the growth of the nation’s automobile industry, Seyi Onajide, group managing director of R.T. Briscoe Plc, has said.

According to him, Nigerian political elites, technocrats, and other leaders of thought need to have a deep philosophical retrospection of how the country’s economy has dipped in the last 40 years.

Speaking during an interactive session with newsmen at the R.T. Briscoe Plc headquarters in Lagos, Onajide blamed the disabled state of the economy in the past 40 years on the failure of successive political actors, policymakers, and other public officeholders.

Read also: Nigeria’s manufacturing investment hits 3-year low as economic woes worsen

While thanking President Bola Tinubu for trying to change the narrative, he said the unfavourable exchange rate is impacting businesses.

Onajide said part of the decadence in today’s economy is not unconnected to the weak strength of the naira which a few days ago was at N1,456 to one dollar, N1,904 to one pound, and N1,885 to one euro.

He said with nostalgia that the root cause of Nigeria’s problems started 44 years ago-July 25, 1980 to be precise, when the exchange rate was 80 kobo to $1.

“We were more productive in 1980 than we are currently,” he said.

He said that 40 years ago, the key reason for economic growth was that Nigeria was a net exporter of refined petroleum products, but today, the country imports all refined petroleum products.

According to him, the automobile industry where the company was a huge and solid player with an enviable track record in the past decades is one of the most affected.

“Nigerians rode locally assembled vehicles. Peugeot cars were assembled in Kaduna. SCOA Assembly plant, a division of SCOA Nigeria Plc assembled Peugeot 404 and 504 pickups then. The headlamps, wiper accessories, exhaust pipes, alternators, and kick-starters were assembled/produced at the Kirikiri plant of SCOA for PAN Nigeria, for most Peugeot vehicles assembled in Kaduna.

“Volkswagen cars were manufactured in Lagos, Leyland and ANAMMCO produced trucks/buses in Ibadan and Enugu respectively,” he said.

He also recalled that Steyr Trucks in Bauchi assembled agricultural tractors and produced many components, like the vehicle seats in Lagos, and Exide batteries produced in Ibadan and exported to West Africa.

Read also: NIESV to Spearhead Job Creation amid economic crisis

“IsoGlass and TSG in Ibadan produced windshields, and Ferrodo in Ibadan produced brake pads and discs. Dunlop and Michelin tyres were produced in Lagos and Port Harcourt. The raw materials for these tyres were produced at the rubber plantations located in Ogun Rivers and the old Bendel States.

“Travelers were mainly flying the Nigeria Airways across the world, and it was about the biggest in Africa at the time.

He recalled how Nigerians listened to radio stations and watched television sets assembled in Ibadan by Sanyo and only purchased refrigerators, freezers, and air-conditioners produced by Thermocool and Debo.

Nigerians were patriotic and proud to wear clothes produced by UNTL Textile Mills, Kaduna, and Chellarams, Lagos from cotton grown in Nigeria.

He implored all Nigerians to have sober reflections, look inward and think of what to do to improve Nigeria.