The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba has called on Nigerians to ditch the mentality of thinking foreign products are better than made-in-Nigeria brands.
He spoke during a facility tour of the assembly plant of Jet Systems Automobile Industries Ltd located at Gbogije, along the Lekki-Epe Expressway in Lagos State.
Agba, who was accompanied by Taraba Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Hon Solomon Elisha awith 25 other Commissioners of Budget and Economic Development across the country, noted that asides better quality of the home-grown brands, they also present many advantages for the country.
He also advocated for a move from primary production to the creation of value adding goods to help improve foreign earnings into the country.
After the tour which also included the display of the Jet Mover Electric Van (the first in Nigeria) and the DC fast charging station, the Minister said he believes the Jet Motor brand and others across the length and breadth of Nigeria were charting a new cause in the fledgling vehicle assemblage industry.
He said: ‘‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step and with what I see here and what is happening in other places across Nigeria, we only need publicity and encouragement so that Nigerians begin to accept made in Nigeria products because we tend to think products made outside the country are superior and that mindset has to change”.
He also noted during the tour that the assemblage of Jet Motor vehicles which is done by local engineers is encouraging because it helps in technology transfer, human capital development in terms of employment which boosts the economy because there will be less importation.
The Minister said:
‘It is in line with the Executive Bill signed by President Muhammadu Buhari to promote local content; what this means is that Nigerians are creating employment for Nigerians and as we create employment, we are invariably dealing with the issue of poverty reduction.
This is very much in line with the vision of the present administration and also in line with the Nation Development Plan 2021-2025.
The Minister also noted that despite the non implementation of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) of 2014 which discourages the importation of fully built vehicles in Nigeria and encourages local assemblers, the industry is still thriving.
He said; ‘‘The present administration encourages local production and if it didn’t mean anything to the government, I wouldn’t be here. I am not just alone as the Minister, I am here with 25 Commissioners of Budget and Economic Development in the country. That should tell you what this means to the government; of course when you have a policy, it takes time for implementation.
‘‘It is not automatic, it is just like a marriage, the couple does not give birth to a child on the same day they are married. It is a process, and things have to be done in the proper way. There are certain challenges as a country we are going through especially with dwindling revenue coming from the oil sector where we get a large portion of the foreign exchange that we get as a country.
‘‘The National Development Plan of the present administration speaks to quite a number of things that need to be done so that as a country, we go away from primary production of commodities into value-adding products. That means producing commodities with high complexities so that we can begin to export and earn dollars. It is when we continue to export and earn foreign exchange as a country that we will have money to give to businesses to invest, especially those who are seeking FOREX”.
Prince Agba also disagreed, when asked during the Facility Tour that a lack of incentive is discouraging many who have invested billions in the automobile assemblage industry.
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‘‘I disagree with that notion that there is a lack of incentive; the duty rate required for the assemblage of SKDs is much lower compared to what is required to pay for a fully assembled vehicle; meaning, if you were to continue to a CKD, the duty fee is even higher. The incentive for an SKD is higher because it is expected that there will be more value here in terms of creating job opportunities”.
While reacting to the visit of the Minister, Wemimo Osanipin, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Jet Systems Automobile Ltd said that it serves as an incentive to invest more in the economy.
‘‘The visit of the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning means a lot to us; it means that the government recognises what we are doing. The visit serves as an incentive for us to do more by means of further investment in the economy.
‘‘This visit also serves as an opportunity to showcase the unique services that we have on offer because some of the Commissioners who came with the Minister said that they didn’t believe that our Jet automobiles are assembled in Nigeria.
‘‘The Jet mover is one of the two main local brands in Nigeria; others are foreign brands which are not assembled in Nigeria and if they are, they are foreign brands assembled in Nigeria. But the Jetvan is assembled in Nigeria; the brand is owned by Nigeria and we are so happy that the Federal Government is associating with us and they are part of us.
‘‘It shows that they appreciate what we are doing which may lead to patronage in the near future.
He also talked about the unique features of the Jet brand and why it is a travelers choice.
‘‘The Jet Mover offers unique features. The first is the passenger bus, cargo bus, ambulance, the electric passenger bus and the electric cargo bus. These are the brands we have on offer.
‘‘You can get passenger buses here and there but ours is unique; first and foremost our buses have a whole lot of room in terms of size and height. The Jet brand has enough head room as any passenger can walk inside the bus without bending.
‘‘The seats are also constructed in a way that it is high and you can stretch your leg because there is enough leg room. There is also the gang which starts from the door to the extreme end of the bus ‘s only has three seats while also creating enough space for luggage.
‘‘Most Nigerians now opt for road transportation and while going on such long journeys one needs to be entertained. That is why in our buses we have an individualised entertainment system just in case passengers want to play games, watch movies or listen to music. Passengers with flash drives can as well entertain themselves without disturbing the next passenger. There is also a USB port where passengers can charge their phones