The President, who was speaking in reference to the proposed automobile policy which will see the ban of second hand cars, also known as tokunbo cars, said the policy was not meant to cause hardship to Nigerians but to create jobs through local assembling of cars.
Mr. Jonathan who was speaking to a 40 man delegation of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, led by their President, Musa Isiwele, commended them on the acceptance of government’s new automobile police.
“You are the most important body. I’m pleased with your position, we cannot come up with policy that will punish Nigerians else I will abort it immediately,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria currently losses $4 billion (N640 billion) to importation of cars; saying by the time such is spent on assembling and manufacturing, it will create jobs.
The president also noted that Nigeria’s greatness was not in the abundance of its oil, but in its diversity, which must be exploited to the maximum to develop the country.
Mr. Jonathan agreed to the importance of the transport association saying “you (the association) can stop people from going to vote”.
The association presented a centenary card to the president and decorated him with the title of Great Grand Patron of the RTEAN.
In his speech, Mr. Isiwele said his association would partner with the Nigerian government to create 1.5 million jobs nationwide for young people in the next one year.
He said already the association had flagged off a special mass transit scheme of 4,000 units of exotic brands of taxis and commercial buses/vehicles to improve road transportation. He also said the association has constructed transit parks and mass housing units for its members.
Mr. Isiwele said his association “was in full support” of government’s automobile policy. He requested waivers on vehicles imported by RTEAN, and land for construction of parks in all the geo-political zones and Abuja
The association also demanded the establishment of Transport Development Bank (TDB) by the Nigerian government to address critical transport infrastructure development challenges and create unhindered access to financing at relatively friendly concessionary rates.
The association also requested for the inclusion of members of RTEAN in the relevant boards of MDAS.
In response, President Jonathan promised to talk to state governors involved in the economic management team to work with the RTEAN to ensure that the country has world class parks.
Mr. Jonathan also directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to incorporate the union in all programmes in the centenary celebration. He encouraged them to be part of the coming National Conference.