Ban on tokunbo cars will save Nigeria $4bn- Jonathan

By The Citizen

President Goodluck Jonathan has said the implementation of National Automotive Policy approved last year by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will save the nation an average of over $4 billion dollars spent in importing vehicles, adding that the money when invested here will create jobs.

Jonathan disclosed this when he received a 40-man delegation of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President who was responding to some of the issues raised by the association,  promised to talk to  the state governors involved in the economic management team to work with the RTEAN to ensure that the country has world class parks across.

Jonathan commended RTEAN members for supporting the Policy and assured that the policy would ensure competitiveness and productivity in the automobile sector.

The president added that
the policy would assist in the establishment of automotive supplier parks and clusters as well as create jobs.

“One area I want to commend you is on the Auto policy of Government.

“People have different views but the most important body that can comment on the policy is your Body.

“From RTEAN position on the Auto Policy, I am quite pleased.

“But let me use this opportunity to assure Nigerians that government cannot bring a policy that will increase the hardship of Nigerians.

“If that comes up, I will abort it even mid-way because we cannot come up with a Policy that will make Nigerians suffer or pay higher prices for vehicles.

“However, we must come up with policies that Nigerians will pay less and especially job and wealth creation and improvement on our economy.

“As a nation, we spent an average of over 4 billion dollars in importing vehicles.

“If this chunk of money, even half of it, is invested in the country to assemble and manufacture, it will go a long way.

“When you assemble, other small cottage industries will come up to produce one component or the other to serve the main assemblage plant.

“This will create jobs and stimulate the economy.

“By the time you import, you are exporting jobs, but if you assemble locally you are creating jobs. That is the thinking of government,” he said.

President Jonathan also commended RTEAN for interfacing with government and its efforts to procure 4000 vehicles of various types for mass transit in the country.

He directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to incorporate the union in all programmes in the centenary celebrations.

Jonathan thanked them for decorating him with the highest honour of the Association, “RTEAN Great Grand Patron” and for presenting him with the first centenary card.

“Your decoration is intimidating, attempting to be your enemy is suicidal because you can stop people from voting.

“We consider you a great partner in our development plans,” he said.

Earlier, the National President of RTEAN, Chief Musa Isiwele, had commended the President for the Automotive Policy and the improvement in road network across the country.

Isiwele acknowledged that the improvement on national highways had improved road transportation and reduced accident, fatality and carnage.

He said RTEAN with over 16 million member nationwide plans to create 1.5 milion jobs  for young people in the next one year.

Isiwele said that already, the association had flagged off a special mass transit scheme of 4,000 units of exotic brands of taxis and commercial buses/vehicles.

The RTEAN he said, has also embarked on construction of world class transit parks and drivers academy to further give capacity to the transport operators.

He said the association has also embarked on 1000 units of mass housing projects for members.

The association requested Federal Government’s Concessionary Sovereign Guarantee for loans and Tariff waivers on all vehicles it imported.

Isiwele asked for land allocation for the establishment of world class ultra- modern transit motor parks in each geopolitical zones of the federation with three to be established in Abuja.

RTEAN also urged President Jonathan to grant the establishment of Transport Development Bank (TDB) by the government to address critical transport infrastructures development.

The event was witnessed by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Ministers of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, FCT, Sen. Bala Mohammed,   Solid Minerals Development, Mohammed Sada and the Minister of state for Works, Bashir Yuguda.