From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The Faculty of Physical Sciences, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Uli, Anambra State, in its monthly ‘Distinguished Lecture Programme’ brainstorming series, has ex-rayed the position of the automotive industry in the state.
The programme with the lecture topic, “Towards Reinventing The Leading Position of Anambra State in Nigeria’s Automotive Industry: Tasks and Targets for Indigenous Scientists, distinguished scholars in attendance from the University and other participants from the industrial sector.
The Acting Dean of the Faculty of Physical Sciences and convener of the programme, Prof Kingsley Nwozor, in his remarks said that the focus was shifted to industry this time which prompted the faculty to assemble resource persons from the academia and the industrial sector.
He said that it was the duty of the academia and operators in the industry to assist the state governement under Governor Charles Soludo to achieve what has been projected would be the status of the State in industrial development by the year 2030 and beyond.
Prof Nwozor contended that the university needed to recharge the industrial sector through research that could solve problems for the industry to arrive at what the State desired.
To the students in attendance at the programme, Prof Nwozor told them to engage the operators in the industry at the appropriate time to acquire entrepreneurship skills. He made it clear to them that entrepreneurs never looked for jobs.
Nwozor, who represented the vice chancellor of the university as well as the chief host at the event, Prof Greg Nwakoby, said many entrepreneurs in Anambra were into auto repairs, fabrication of components and other engagements in the automotive industry while others were in auto parts dealership.
Outside that, he said there were those who set the roads busy as transporters including transporters like GUO, Dandollars, De Young, Chisco, among others. He adjudged Anambra as a state doing very well in the automotive business.
“But for us as a university, we are into research and studies. We take our time to look at those things and we come to see that we need to re-engage society.
“We need to interrogate the economic system, we need to recharge the setting, we need to build a formidable workforce for the university for economic and scientific benefits.
“If you look around, you will see that there appears to be a disconnect between the university and the industry. We do research at the university that can actually solve the problems of the industry.
“If the students decide to engage in research to solve parts of the problem in the industry, there is no how you can do a research without getting engaged with those operating in the industry, whether as an intern, employee or what have you,” he said.
He said that the researchers at the university had beamed their research efforts toward how to solve youth unemployment as a social problem.
Another speaker, Professor Philip Atanmo thanked the faculty for initiating the monthly lectures. He regretted that the efforts the COOU engineering products had made in foreign competitions with success stories had not been appreciated by the Federal Government in the area of financing to consolidate the efforts.
“We have the zeal, the intelligence, the will but the country lacks the will. We beat the Germans, Americans, and the English but were not financed by the federal government which labelled us a’ state university’. He urged the students to believe in themselves.
One of the resource persons and the Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of Global Sky Industries Ltd, Ogidi, Mr Oliver Ikwueto in his presentation named some of the challenges that had continued to militate against the growth of the auto industry including low government and general public patronage of local automotive products.
Mr Ikwueto after dwelling extensively on the history of automobile business in Nigeria and Anambra in particular also said that low capacity utilization and high rate of corruption among public officers were some of the factors stunting the growth.
“Poor perception of locally made automobile products, high cost of production, inconsistency in tariff policy and insufficient government protection policy as well as inadequate funding are some of the major problems against the growth of the automotive industry.
“Again massive importation of vehicles from abroad, dearth of supporting local industries which result in scarcity of local raw materials should not be overlooked, ” Mr Ikwueto submitted.
Another resource person, Mr Ekweozoh Michael talked about the achievements of the Nuta Bolts RacingTeam of the COOU and the inroads in racing cars production that had taken the team outside the shores of Nigeria. He named inadequate funding as one of the major problems of the team’s outings.
Highlights of Mr Michael’s presentation were a review of their previous appearance in both domestic and foreign competitions. He also articulated the team’s several wins between 2028 and 2020.
A group photograph of the lecturers and participants at the programme.