The Director General of National Automotive Design And Development Council (NADDC), Mr. Joseph Osanipin, has stated that the Federal Government will patronise Nigeria-assembled vehicles as part of measures to support indigenous automakers in developing the industry.

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He stated made this assertion in Lagos on Monday after undertaking a facility tour of the Lanre Shittu Motors’ auto assembly plant.

The DG was taken through the process of assembling the JAC truck as well as conversion of LSM pickup to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

He said, “Government is ready to patronise made-in-Nigeria vehicles. The President has said for any MDAs to make request for vehicles, they have to be those assembled in Nigeria.

“My visit to the facility today is part of the ways to assure them of government support.”

Osanipin said from what he saw at the plant, auto assemblers had done so much in the CNG-vehicle initiative and are ready for the official roll-out.

He said, “We are here to look at what they are doing and assess what is on the ground to know what next to do in order to get to where we are going.

“From my assessment of what the LSM is doing, it means the assemblers are ready for the CNG vehicle initiative.”

Osanipin called on bus buyers to embrace Nigeria-assembled buses the way they accepted trucks built in the country

“Most of the trucks seen on the road today are assembled in Nigeria. Nigerians have embraced that. Can we now take it further and do the same thing with buses?

“Those in the bus investment are not doing it for luxury but to make money from it. And they are conscious of the downtime. Since Nigerians have embraced locally assembled trucks, let them do the same with buses.”

Also speaking with journalists after the inspection, Managing Director of Lanre Shittu Motors, Mr. Taiwo Shittu, said the company had delivered some CNG-powered mass transit buses for airport shuttle.

He disclosed that LSM could do six units daily, adding that the firm saw the huge business opportunity in the CNG-powered vehicles shortly after the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government and went straight into it.

According to him “We know from our knowledge of automobile – this is our 43 years in the industry – that once the fuel subsidy is removed, the next option is the CNG. So we went straight into CNG vehicles.

“As we speak, we are converting our vehicles to run on CNG. We have our CNG conversion kits on the ground. We have mass transit buses already at the airports for shuttle, assembled here in Nigeria.

“Another set of CNG mass transit buses have arrived at the seaport and being cleared. This will be for commercial operation. And it will reduce operation cost by 25 per cent”.

Shittu said LSM placed premium on after-sale support, with over N2 billion worth of spare parts in its store.

“For any vehicle or auto brand to survive in Nigeria, after-sale support is very important.

“A lot of made-in-Nigeria vehicles failed in the past because the handlers did not realise that without sufficient spare parts, they cannot survive” he said.