Chief Michael Ade-Ojo, Chairman, Toyota Nigeria Limited, TNL, has condemned the nation’s auto policy currently being implemented, describing the initiative as a move with a week foundation that cannot stand the test of time.
Chief Adeojo at a one-day workshop in Lagos, also lamented that the policy since it’s inception, has led to a huge loss of jobs in the industry.
Citing as an instance, he said that the TNL was forced to disengage quite a number of its workers between 2014 and this year as a result of the 70 per cent import tariff slammed on vehicles when the auto policy became effective.
The workshop was organised by the Automotive and Allied Products Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the theme, ‘Viability and Growth in the auto industry’.
The TNL chairman said unless the auto policy was given a holistic review and properly executed with the involvement of all stakeholders, the efforts could fail again and it would hurt the nation badly.
He said, “We must therefore sit down to plan in the interest of everybody in the industry. There is room for everybody including those who have benefitted and those who did not benefit from the emergency situation.
“This is my honest view. At 77, I’m not the kind of person who will tell you lies. I’ve been in this business for 41 years having started in 1971. Foundation in anything is very important. If you put up a weak foundation, it will crumble.”
According to him, the policy could take the nation to the destination of making it a regional hub if well planned and effectively executed.
“Right now, I don’t know how many people have lost jobs as a result of the new approach. But they are many. I have had to downsize because we are only one fifth about what we used to have.
“Although we have concluded plan to establish a Toyota assembly plant in Nigeria, but we were hurried and the necessary things we should have done have not been done,” Ade-Ojo said.
According to him, the decision was taken to meet the emergency situation as he described the current posture by some of those in the assembly plant project as pretentious.
“I can say that the pretentious assembly plant project that is going on currently cannot take us anywhere because it was made to just help some people.
“An industry like the automobile is not one you just wake up and start. We cannot just wake up and say within three years we should start to assemble vehicles. It needs serious planning.
Africa is the next region for development. Those who have made tons of money in America and other places need to spend it somewhere,” he added.
By Patrick Aigbokhan