Argungu: FG lauds PAN, Innoson, Stallion for investing N360bn in auto industry

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Activities leading up to the 2020 Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival commenced in Abuja on Monday, March 9 with the Federal Government commending local auto makers, including PAN Nigeria Ltd {Peugeot},Kaduna;  Innoson Vehicle Manufacturer (IVM), Nnewi; Stallion Motors, Lagos, for investing over $1billion {about N360bn} annually in the industry.

The Director-General, National Automotive Design and Development Commission (NADDC), Jelani Aliyu, who applauded the auto companies at the presentation of the locally-assembled vehicles that powered the Argungu Motor Rally, appreciated them for defying many challenges to keep the industry alive.

The DG made the remarks while interacting with the representatives of the managements of auto manufacturers that paraded an array of sundry vehicles from the domestic industry preparatory to the Argungu Motor Rally flag-off, also in Abuja two days later.

The parade and stakeholders’ meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, and the NADDC.

Aliyu, however, frowned at the sad situation where over $8 billion {about N2.9 tn} leaves the country annually for the importation of between 300,000 to 400,000 used vehicles, thereby dampening the progress being made by the investors in the domestic industry.

In his remarks at the event, one of the participants and PAN Nigeria Executive Director Sales and Marketing, Shehu Sani Dauda, said the company was excited to be part of the auto rally aspect of the resurgent Argungu festival, expressing optimism that its brands would outshine others in the road show.

Dauda gave more insight into the auto plant’s expanding, multi-brand portfolio, saying, “We are now multi-brand auto company; we brought in one of our latest buses which is overdue to come on board. It is a rugged and affordable bus.

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“It is built with several options like TV, USB points for every customer, creatively made to carry luggage with maximum comfort for users and customers.”

Daudu said PAN was exceptionally prepared for the Argungu rally, noting that Peugeot 508 was built to be rugged and reliable, which would be seen during the long drive.

The Executive Director was hopeful that with the current efforts by the NADDC to develop and re-position the auto industry, especially through the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan {NAIDP} now under review, PAN would return to the good old days when Peugeot was vehicle buyers’ first choice and the Kaduna plant was producing about 90,000 cars with 4000 employees on its pay-roll.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Industry and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, commended the NADDC and the manufacturers for their innovations which were evident in the showcased made-in Nigeria vehicles.

The minister assured that the President Muhumadu Buhari‘s administration was committed to using the auto industry to create jobs for the citizenry.

The 2020 Argungu Motor Rally was formally flagged off on Wednesday, March 11, at the Eagle Square, Abuja, by the Information and Culture Minister, Alh. Lai Mohammed, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari.

At the ceremony, the participating vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, pick-up vans, as well as mini, midi and high capacity buses, beautifully branded in the brilliant colours and logos of Argungu Festival, were lined up as the count-down began for the two-day drive to Sokoto, and finally Birnin-Kebbi, the home of the international event of high touristic interest.

Among dignitaries at the Eagle Square to witness the flag-off, some of whom also delivered goodwill messages, were Govs. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; Adeniyi Adebayo; NADDC Board members led by the Chairman, Senator Osita Izunaso, as well as the D-G, Jelani Aliyu.

Some of the guests at the event took turns to recognise and acknowledge what they described as the impressive performance of Jelani Aliyu, saying that his positive initiatives were being felt in automotive industry as the helmsman at the NADDC.

Upon being flagged-off, the convoy embarked on the 730-kilometre road show from Abuja, through Nasarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Argungu in Kebbi, where the week-long activities reached a climax with the Fishing Festival, awards and recognitions.

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The 2020 Argungu Motor Rally was hosted by the Kebbi State Government in collaboration with the NADDC with active involvement of the local assembly plants. NADDC officials explained that vehicles assembled in Nigeria were endorsed for the rigorous rally with the aim of putting them under the spotlight. The council, it was learnt, also wanted to give them the opportunity to prove that they have the capacity to cope with the country’s motoring environment, particularly the challenging terrains in some parts.

One of the participants, Stallion Motors, said it took its locally-assembled vehicles to the rally because they were equal to the challenge. Stallion featured Changan CS35 and CS55 mid-size SUVs; NP Hardbody pick-up and other Nissan vehicles; as well as Hyundai SUVs and sedans.

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