While inaugurating the National Space Council, President Goodluck Jonathan charged it to track industrialisation and make Nigeria build motor vehicles, boats and aircraft at the earliest time. About the same time, the executive vice-chairman of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Dr Mohammed Sani Haruna, unveiled the first “100 per cent” made-in-Nigeria motorcycle named “NASENI M1”. It was conceived, designed and manufactured using local materials by Nigerian engineers.
Manufacturing a motorcycle may not be rocket science or considered a landmark in other climes, but, in Nigeria with its comatose economy, decrepit manufacturing sector and untapped industrialisation potential, it is an avant-garde breakthrough. Indeed, NASENI has, from inception, not disappointed the nation; it is the nation that has been frustrating it. Many other research centres have been exploring the possibility of sourcing and conducting research locally for their ventures, but their papers have been left to gather dust in the archives. The result is that though Nigeria has the cutting edge in products with agricultural inputs, it currently exports its produce raw and still has to import finished products from other countries. Accordingly, one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil imports almost all of its fuel needs usually from non-oil-producing nations.
We can encourage local entrepreneurs, save foreign exchange and advance our balance of trade. We can also provide employment to our army of unemployed youth and unleash the creative ingenuities of the people who desire to use their talents to change the economic landscape of the nation and better their own fortunes as well. If only we would invest in made-in-Nigeria goods and services!
What NASENI has done will reverse the trend that is fast becoming a major feature of our national life where everything foreign is seen as superior to local breeds. This is despite that the regulatory agencies in Nigeria have had to discard many of the imported items, after due process, as sub-standard and not of universally accepted touchstone. A made-in-Nigeria motorcycle, for instance, would have taken cognisance of our peculiar plumbic and rubric terrains and the tyres and absorbing mechanisms fortified to last longer. Let’s hope it is a welcome relief in terms of cost and maintenance for the over 20 million Nigerians who today rely on motorcycle as a means of transportation and many who eke out a living riding okada across all the nooks and crannies of the country.
NASENI has proved to be a productive agency. If it can truly meet local demand, a total ban on the importation of motorcycles will not be far away. Whatever the country can produce 100 per cent needs this kind of positive discrimination. The template already created to run successful plants for producing motorcycles is there in NASENI. Nigerian entrepreneurs and investors should take advantage of this profitable investment in manufacturing of the motorcycles. And if we are really desirous of achieving self-reliance and becoming economically independent, citizens should be encouraged to apply their ingenuities in productive capacities or real-time manufacturing to usher in the much-needed technology advancement.