The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Monday said the government has a responsibility to ensure indigenous manufacturers thrive to rebuild the economy and put Nigerians to work.
Mr. Saraki said this when he received a delegation from Innoson Motor Manufacturing Company, Nnewi, led by Innocent Chukwuma, the Chairman and founder of the company, in his office.
He said government should use legislative actions and policy initiatives to protect the local industries as a deliberate way of reviving the economy.
Based in Nnewi, Anambra State, Innoson Motors is the only Nigerian company manufacturing automobile of different range.
Mr. Saraki said one of the actions government should quickly introduce was to ensure that local industries were patronized by government agencies so that Nigerian manufacturers could enjoy the advantages accruing from the big market that her population offers.
“That is why this eighth Senate is determined to amend the Procurement Law to ensure that government agencies patronize Made in Nigeria products,” Mr. Saraki said.
“I am sure the House of Representatives is in support of this. It is our joint responsibility to ensure that you succeed. If you are successful, a lot more small and medium scale enterprises will draw inspiration from you and they will become successful.
“That will help to create jobs which is one of the mandate presented to us by the youths of this country during the last elections. We in the legislature will look at all laws and help to create an enabling environment for local businesses to thrive in Nigeria.”
He added that using laws to protect locally made goods was not peculiar to the country as similar policy had been followed in the United States under President Herbert Hoover in 1933, while India and China had also enacted similar laws in the past.
He lamented a situation where a company like Innoson only sold about 3,000 vehicles in 2015 when Nigerians bought about a million vehicle annually, adding that If Nigerians patronised Made in Nigeria cars, it would force foreign manufacturers to set up plants in the country.
In his remarks, one of the Innoson officials, Alfred Nwosu, said Innoson Group started off from manufacturing of motor cycles and graduated to tricycle before it began production of different range of utility and luxury vehicles.
He said the company had 7,000 Nigerians on its payroll while there were 300 youths from the Niger Delta area undergoing training that were hitherto held abroad.
Mr. Nwosu commended Mr. Saraki and the Senate leadership for their prompt response to the request for audience sent by the company, an opportunity that had eluded the company in the past.
“In less than 48 hours of contacting the Senate President, we were told to come over. We are encouraged by your views on Made in Nigeria goods. What we need is the support, encouragement and inspiration from decision makers like you,” he said.
In a similar development, Monday, Mr. Saraki urged the South East Amalgamated Market Traders Association (SEAMATA) to look inwards and find ways of locally producing goods they currently import in view of the present economic challenges facing the country.