By Dickson Okafor
Prince Ajibola Adedoyin, National President, Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria (AMDON) has said the tariff reduction on imported vehicles and tractors announced by the Federal Government recently will reduce transportation cost across the country.
He stressed that the policy which came in response to agitations by AMDON members coupled with the reopening of the nation’s land borders was an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari is sensitive to the yearning of Nigerians.
Adedoyin further gave some insight on why AMDON is partnering relevant government agencies towards the protection of dealers and buyers of fairly used cars to curb car theft and the impact of border closure on their businesses. He also explains why Lagos remains strategic in the Association’s efforts to enhance service to customers.
Why we visited Lagos AMDON
Like every other Nigerian, we were elated when the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, announced the reopening of the nation’s land borders. The good news informed our decision to visit and sensitise our members in the Lagos and Southwest zone about the policies of government regarding automobile business ahead of the border reopening.
Lagos being the commercial hub of Nigeria is strategic to AMDON because it houses two of the nation’s major sea ports and it borders more than four countries. So, we were well received by the executive members of the association led Don Meche Nnadiekwe, Chairman of AMDON Lagos State Chapter and President, United Berger Motor Dealers Association (UBMDA). The visit also coincided with our annual stakeholders meeting. Therefore, it afforded us the opportunity to showcase our scorecard as drivers of the national body of AMDON as it enabled us to project into future.
Our experiences during border closure
I will say we were worse hit by the land border closure. You will agree with me that transportation is a major challenge in Nigeria and most Nigerians rely on fairly used vehicles to drive their economic and social activities. During the border closure, vehicles that were sold for N1 million, were sold for close to N5 million because if you sell the ones you have in stock, where would you buy another one? Therefore, because over 80 per cent of vehicles in the transport sector belong to individuals not government and these are mainly fairly used. So, the closure affected our business, especially the transportation sector negatively.
Notwithstanding, I commend President Muhammadu Buhari for listening to the outcry of ordinary Nigerians when he called for the submission of the report of the Committee on Border Closure and ordered the reopening of the land borders.
AMDON just like ordinary Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief s although we should not lose focus on why the land borders were closed. According to the Federal Government, the closure was curb smuggling of prohibited goods, entry of illegal persons and to curb insecurity.
Fairly used automobiles dominating Nigerian imports
In line with government’s efforts to checkmate the smuggling of fairly used vehicles into the country through land borders, AMDON signed a pact with various government agencies and regulatory bodies to regulate the auto sector and to identify the genuine dealers. The only aspect we are not comfortable with was total closure of the nation’s land borders. Meanwhile, we believed that it was improper to close all the land borders as it would not help to achieve the goal of promoting local production because as long as the local business environment is not conducive, local production of goods and services will not thrive.
AMDON’s decision to partner government agencies including the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has yielded positive result as our activities are now guided by the money laundry (prohibition) Act 2004, currently 2011 ML (P) Act as amended which ensures that every business must be registered and get certified by the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundry (SCUML) by the EFCC issued to every business liability or enterprise as a way to regulate businesses in Nigeria including auto industry. Just as SCUML certificate is compulsory for auto dealers to enable us operate anywhere in the country, every member is also expected to obtain AMDON Identity card for easy identification by the police and the public. The Identity card is approved by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and signal was sent to all Commissioners of Police across the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to recognise the identity card as the only authentic identification of a true auto dealer in the country. So, if you smuggle any vehicle through land border from neighouring countries the dealer can easily be fished out.
How AMDON is working to unify car dealers, importers
It was on the basis of seeking one unity body that was our major reason for the visit to the Lagos chapter of AMDON to sensitise our members in the Southwest zone on the need to obtain AMDON identity card approved by the Inspector General of Police (IGP). And so far, those who were yet to register are doing so without further delay as the association’s taskforce is empowered by law to seal any auto shop whose owner is not a member of AMDON hence it is necessary to make the association strong and united. Is either you register with AMDON or you close shop because it is no longer business usually for unregistered dealers. Dealers who refuse to register with the association won’t be allowed to operate hence most business thrive because the operators come under one umbrella as an association and always press to achieve a common purpose for the association. When I was inaugurated as National President of AMDON in Abuja during my inaugural speech, I vowed that I would transform AMDON to be recognize like the Institute of Charter Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) for accountants, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) for doctors, Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) for journalist and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) for lawyers and this promise have fulfilled.
Impact of duty slash to 10 per cent
It is a welcome development and members of AMDON and Nigerians are grateful to President Buhari and the the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali for listening to the yearning of ordinary Nigerians. The reduction in tariff has a multiplier effect especially the transport sector. It will reduce transportation cost. Also, like I said earlier before now auto business was not regulated hence it became all comers’ affairs thereby making it difficult for most people to identify real auto dealers”. But with the reduction in tariff coupled with new policies guiding the industry, it will be unsafe for quacks to operate. Meanwhile, the response from auto dealers across the country so far is encouraging and we will not to relent in our efforts to ensure that all auto dealers in Nigeria come under one umbrella. Don’t forget that the tariff reduction did not just happen it was as result of constant agitation of AMDON which forced President Buhari to sent the bill to the National Assembly which was about reduction in duties on vehicles. We thank President Buhari for not toeing the path of his predecessors who issued a Presidential fiat which can be stopped by successive administration. Instead President Buhari in order to make it permanent had to send the bill to the National Assembly to make it a law. In the vein, AMDON will forever remain grateful to the Comptroller General (CG) of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd) for taking our matter to Mr. President which informed the Buhari’s decision to send the executive bill which brought about the tariff reduction.
How we’re supporting growth of local auto industry
The new pack AMDON signed with relevant government agencies in order to regulate and secure auto business in the country is one of the initiatives. We have sent a proposal to Ministry of Transportation suggesting how Nigeria can upgrade her mode of transportation which include, water, air, rail and road. Unfortunately, among these four mode of transportation the only mode that is affordable and readily available for the common man in Nigeria is road transport. The other modes especially air transport is not accessible to ordinary Nigerians because either they are not available or most Nigerians cannot afford air fare. It is unbelievable that over 200million Nigerians rely on road transport for movement of persons, goods and services. No doubt we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to plight of members of the association which has resulted to government interventions that uplifted the standard of auto business in the country and we assured President Muhammadu Buhari of our unflinching support.
Challenges facing AMDON
Among the challenges facing auto dealers in nigeria include high duty charges on imported vehicles which we argued during AMDON presentation at the National Assembly that led to recent reduction in duties on vehicles by the Federal Government. The tariff reduction will enable AMDON actualise its objective of ensuring that every family in country own a car. Another challenge facing us is the unconducive environment, for doing business but we are working tirelessly to guarantee enabling environment for auto business to thrive in the country.
The third one is that many dealers in fairly used vehicles are yet to register with AMDON so that we can monitor and regulate their conduct .and we are still working on that.