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Nigeria's quest to become an automobile manufacturing country may be realised in the next 28 months, the project manager of the Skill Acquisition Centre for Internal Combustion Engine Parts Manufacture, Akaehomen Ibhadode, has said.
Mr Ibhadode, a world-renowned professor of manufacturing engineering, who spoke yesterday at the launch of the centre at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), said the World Bank-sponsored project, tagged Step-B, will be equipped with state-of-the-art research and production facilities to aid research and learning by staff and students of higher institutions in Nigeria.
The centre will also engage in the production of all components of diesel and petrol automobile engines.
An initiative of the federal government, Step-B is expected to support the development and growth of the science and technology industry and contribute to national development.
Mr Ibhadode, who is the 2010 laureate of the Nigeria prize for science, said the essence of the project is to empower local automobile manufacturers and to provide industrial training for engineering students as well as to generate funds. The centre, which is working in collaboration with National Automotive Council, Star Automotive Industries, Lagos, and the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom, will become fully operational within the next 28 months.
According to the national project coordinator of Step-B, Michael Adikwu, the project is aimed at producing better qualified students and researches, which he said will impact positively on the economic growth of the nation as defined by the millennium development goals.
Fidelis Achiv, who represented the director-general of the National Automotive Council, Aminu Jabal, said the project will ensure that students are trained in the use of modern equipment and help to determine the engineering competence of Nigerian students, as well as provide needed spare parts for the automotive industry.
The vice-chancellor of UNIBEN, Osayuki Oshodin, who was represented by the deputy vice- chancellor (academics) of the university, Emmanuel Onibere, described the occasion as a "milestone achievement by the university, considering the numerous hiccups that threatened the initial take-off of the project".
He said the project is devoted to skill acquisition in engine parts manufacture, which he said is a vital component of the nation's quest to address the problem of transportation and power generation.
"This indeed will be a turning point in Nigeria's march toward real industrialisation," he said.
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