House of Reps approves first reading of bill banning government officials from using imported cars

MEMBERS of the House of Representatives have adopted a motion calling for a ban on the importation of foreign vehicles for official use by public servants and politicians across Nigeria.


Yesterday, members of the House unanimously approved the first reading of a bill that would make it illegal for public officials to use imported cars. It urged the federal government to develop a policy and provide a timeline to make it compulsory for ministries, departments and agencies to restrict the procurement of cars to those manufactured or assembled in Nigeria.


Also, the House asked the committee to investigate why the automobile companies in Nigeria collapsed and proffer solutions. In a motion, titled Need to Prioritise the Procurement of Cars Manufactured or Assembled in Nigeria by Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, sponsored by  Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama of Edo State, the bill expressed concern that Nigeria had become a dumping ground for automobiles manufactured on foreign soil unlike in the past when car manufacturing companies flooded the country.


Hon Ogbeide-Ihama said the development had stripped Nigeria of the benefits of having technology transfer, employment, revenue generation through taxes, a reduction in the balance of trade increased GDP and safety specifications, which he said accrued from locally made vehicles. Consequently, he prayed for a deliberate policy of government to correct the anomalies.


“The House notes that the automobile market is a multi-billion naira venture in Nigeria, given its large population and huge reliance on road transport. Aware that government at all levels being the highest spender in Nigeria is a major buyer of automobiles in Nigeria, we are worried that over 95% of the automobiles procured by government ministries, departments and agencies, are neither manufactured nor assembled in Nigeria. Recall that a couple of years ago automobile manufacturing companies like Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz and Peugeot had functional assembling plants in Nigeria.”


“Automobile manufacturing companies outside Nigeria neither pay direct taxes in Nigeria nor are their activities beneficial to the economy of Nigeria. Concerned that Nigeria has been relegated to the role of a ready market for automobiles manufactured in more developed economies, we are convinced that the only way Nigeria can break off the shackles of being a perpetual market for other economies is by pursuing a deliberate policy on automobiles which will restrict patronage of automobiles by government officials to automobile brands from companies which have their manufacturing or assembling plants within Nigeria," Hon Ogbeide-Ihama added.


Contributing to the motion, members supported the motion and wondered why the government would waste money on car importation  In his contribution, Hon Johnson Eguma of Edo State, said Nigeria had nothing to lose should it adopt the measure.