FG’s new industrialisation strategy

THE Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, disclosed recently that the Federal Government plans to establish three automobile clusters and training centres in Lagos, Nnewi and Kano as part of the National Industrial Skills Development Programme and the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).

According to the minister, creation of the automobile training centres which will train Nigerians in auto maintenance and spare parts production is part of federal government’s collaboration with Brazil in the area of industrialisation.

We recall with profound nostalgia Brazil’s highly impressive records in effectively harnessing its vast resources to ensure massive local production of essential industrial goods for rapid national development.

However, it is saddening that this is not the situation in Nigeria. It is unfortunate that 53 years after independence, successive administrations have turned deaf ears to the need to pay attention to local production of goods and encourage Nigerians to patronize such goods.

The present situation in which government spends billions of dollars annually on imported goods, including toothpick, if not checked, will not only further endanger the industrialisation strategy, but will worsen the economic situation in the country.

The government should without delay, make the operating environment to be conducive for stakeholders to ensure success of the industrialisation strategy.

Nigeria lacks a cohesive, holistic and realistic industrialisation policy that could effectively drive the economy. Like in other sectors, there are policy inconsistencies and these have continued to hamper successful implementation of government’s industrialisation policies.

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What is the guaranty that this industrialisation strategy will be different from the past failed ones? Is this not a gimmick government wants to use to craftily solicit support of the citizenry especially now that the 2015 elections are approaching?

There is no doubt that it is a welcome development if government is indeed sincere with its collaboration with Brazil in the area of industrialisation in view of the latter’s superior expertise.

But is Nigeria not putting the cart before the horse? Are the necessary infrastructure that will ensure success of the industrialisation strategy in place?

Can a country whose essential infrastructure in critical sectors of the economy have virtually collapsed be a suitable environment for indistrialisation?

For the strategy to succeed there must be steady and uninterrupted electricity supply to effectively drive the economy. The seaports and rail lines must be developed to meet the increasing challenges posed by the new industrialisation strategy.

All local raw materials should be developed and effectively harnessed for industrial production that will fit into an export-oriented economy especially as Nigeria is striving to be among the 20 frontline economies by 2020.

Industrial estates should be established and provided with essential amenities such as water, electricity and motorable roads to ensure finished industrial goods can be moved easily from production centres to consumers.

The government should create industrial-friendly environment to enable the existing industries suffering from pains of multiple taxation survive.

The industrialisation strategy will not only help in diversifying the economy but it will also create wealth for millions of Nigerians and reduce drastically, the current rising level of criminality.

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The strategy should discourage industrial disharmony among industrialists, check profit repatriation practice, encourage cost-effective investments and promote local products for export market.

Financial institutions responsible for promoting industrial growth should be more alive to their responsibilities. They should provide industrialists long-term loans to ensure success of the industrialisation programme. Beneficiaries of such loans should ensure the loans are judiciously used so that more people can benefit from the scheme.

We hope government will avoid what led to the collapse of the auto assembly plants in the country. Government’s failure to patronise the products and encourage the citizenry to buy goods produced locally was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the plants.

It will be another great disservice to Nigerians if government fails to achieve the objectives for which the automobile training centres and clusters have been established.

We believe if well managed, the institutions will produce qualified professionals to fill the yawning gap in the auto industry. Local production of essential spare parts will not only make such spare parts to be readily available locally at affordable prices but it will also drastically reduce the foreign exchange being used to import spare parts into the country.

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