The Federal Government has reversed its plans to ban the importation of fairly used vehicles also known as Tokunbo, in line with popular opposition to the policy since it was announced late last year.The shift in position was taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting penultimate week, following intense debate on the issue with the conclusion that the planned ban was not in the best interest of the nation's economy for now.
The Minister of Industry,Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, disclosed this in Kaduna on Friday, during a facility tour of one of the nation's automobile assembly plants, Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria, Kaduna.
According to him, government has since realised that despite the laudable intention of the policy, the prevailing socio-economic circumstances in the country for now would not be supportive of it.
Stakeholders in the import sector who roundly condemned the plans have been locked in a fierce debate over its desirability or otherwise with the automobile manufacturing industry who saw the policy as long overdue.
But Aganga said despite the new automotive policy in place,the government would not ban the importation of fairly used vehicles because of its socio-economic importance to the country.
Rather than banning, the minister noted that Nigeria must work towards providing alternative cars. Hesaid the idea to ban the imports was aimed at revamping the auto industry adding that a lot more needed to be put in place before adopting such policy because of its apparent backlash.
The minister, who said he was at PAN to assess how the automobile company was taking the opportunity of the new automotive policy of the government, saidthough Tokunbo vehicles would still be imported into the country, government would do everything possible to ensure that affordable and new vehicles are produced for Nigerians.
Theministersaid,"We studied what was done in Pakistan, India and South Africa. It is normal that in most countries they ban the importation of Tokunbo cars because that will help the demand of the local manufacturers.
"However, for Nigeria, we discussed and we said we are not going to ban Tokunbo vehicles because of the socio-economic problems we have in the country. We must work towards providing alternative cars before we even consider placing a ban on them.
"So, in Nigeria we have not banned it yet. If we slow down the demand, it will slow down the pace of growth. If you look at the cars today, for every new car that is imported, almost six Tokunbo vehicles are imported into the country. That tells you that the economy of the country is a priority.
"When you see that, as a country, you cannot afford to place a ban. The Federal Executive Council has said we are not banning Tokunbo vehicles until we have alternative for them. So, Tokunbo cars will still be imported into the country and we will do everything possible to make sure we can produce affordable and new cars for Nigerians. It is important that we provide an environment and the alternative for Nigerians before we embark on banning Tokunbo cars."