Argungu Festival: ‘Fed Govt to build local capacity’

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Moses Emorinken, Abuja


THE Federal Government has reiterated that the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival is not just a symbol of our unity, but also a testament of its resolve to build local capacity and diversify the economy.

At the flag-off of the motor rally of the festival, in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said that the return of the festival after a 10-year break due to security issues is another testimony that the efforts of the federal and state governments to restore peace and security to the country is yielding fruits.

Represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, he said: “The Motor rally is one of the many events slated for this festival. It is unique because unlike the other events which are domiciled largely in Argungu, the rally starts off from here in Abuja and crisscrosses several states, including Nassarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, and Sokotox, before ending up in Kebbi State.

“Specifically, the motor rally which we are about to flag off will cover 13 towns and cities from Abuja to Keffi to Kaduna to Gussau to Sokoto to Shagari etc., and finally to Argungu.

“You can now see that the Argungu festival is not just a local or state festival but an international festival and it is a festival of unity. This is why the Federal Government will continue to provide all the necessary support for the festival and indeed all the festivals on our national calendar.

“Please permit me to also emphasise the fact that three things are unique about this particular rally:  the first is that all the vehicles that are taking part in this rally are vehicles that are assembled in Nigeria. Some of these vehicles have been here with us for quite a while”.

He added: “There is nothing that showcases and proves the commitment of the Federal Government to build local capacity that is diversified economy than through manufacture.

“Again, we must not see the motor rally just from the viewpoint of manufacturing; I must also look at it from the viewpoint of policy, and I think for me this is more important than the industrial aspect of it. We are not just building capacity we are also building a completely new economy.

“Let me congratulate the government and people of Kebbi State for the revival of this festival after a 10-year break due to security considerations. The return of the festival is another testimony that the efforts of the federal and state governments to restore peace and security to the country is yielding fruits”.

Minister of Industry Trades and Investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, said the aim of incorporating the motor rally into the Festival is to show the Nigerians vehicles.

Represented by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, he said the ministry has been ensuring that Nigeria become the leader in automobile, adding that South Korea, makers of Hyundai brand of automobile was once one of the poorest but today that is history. He expressed hope that Nigeria will advance.

According to the Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development council, Engr. Jelani Aliyu, ‘When you bring in an already built vehicle into the country, it means their people have been hired overseas to put it together and they are paid salaries, before the vehicle is brought into the country. So there is no value addition to Nigeria.  However, when you build it here you are hiring people to work on creating and putting together that product, and by extension create employment.

‘For example, in the automotive sector we have about 5,000 Nigerians employed directly. These are people working in factories by extension in the automotive sector; for every one job you have, you have at least 10 jobs down the value chain.

Therefore, in Nigeria there are about 50,000 people benefiting directly from the automotive sector.  Also, we are talking to so many investors who are just waiting for the automotive policy to become law’.