By Chukwudi Enekwechi
INNOSON Nigeria Ltd as many Nigerians know the company is the first indigenous company to start motor manufacturing, and today has become a source of pride to all Nigerians. Initially, many skeptics thought it was impossible to realise that dream until the company began to roll out different brands of vehicles such as buses, cars, trucks and refuse bin collectors.
Indeed they have become the pride of the nation to the extent that the revolution they led in the automobile sector helped to revive the whole sector. Presently, most world auto manufacturers like Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Peugeot to name but a few are falling over themselves in trying to set up their manufacturing plants in Nigeria, rather than the former practice of merely using Nigeria as a marketing outlet.
There is no doubt that with the manufacturing which INNOSON pioneered, thousands of jobs have been created in those plants and more will come.
It is therefore disheartening that the Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB, will needlessly enter into a running legal battle with INNOSON over issues that many observers consider straight forward and not complicated. While I admit the legal right of GTB to institute legal action wherever it feels aggrieved in any matter, yet due to the compelling reasons of fast-tracking the country’s industrialisation, and helping government at all levels to create jobs, certain issues ought to be resolved with utmost dispatch without unnecessarily using delay tactics to frustrate the overall development of the nation.
For example, it is on record that there has been a running legal battle between INNOSON Nigeria Ltd and Guarantee Trust Bank over a garnishee order absolute granted by a Federal High Court, Lagos ordering GTB to pay INNOSON over N 2 billion from the account of Nigerian Customs. Regrettably since 2006 when the judgement was delivered, GTB has not complied, rather they have embarked on endless rigmarole of litigations with INNOSON. From my point of view this approach as legal as it is, does not augur well for the Federal Government’s objective of supporting local industries, and ultimate by creating jobs for our teeming youths.
Furthermore, there is ample evidence that GTB had excessively overcharged INNOSON on his account with the bank.
In fact, in four court cases between both parties, in Lagos, Enugu and Awka, respectively INNOSON had floored GTB and in our collective desire to move the nation forward through industrialisation, it is expected that all hands should be on deck in supporting indigenous industrialists.
From available information, INNOSON has broken the jinx as far as motor manufacturing in Nigeria is concerned. In the past, it appeared as if this was impossible but with the determination of one man Nigeria has joined the league of motor manufacturers, and all they need is our support. INNOSON is a pride to the nation and all public institutions are duty bound to support the company. By doing so, the much talked about technology acquisition will happen in Nigeria.
A company that has created over 15,000 jobs for Nigerians ought to be given required incentives to continue to grow and expand the frontiers of our national development.
GTB on the their part should sheathe their sword and realise that as a bank they owe it as a duty to their numerous customers and clients. Constant bickering with their customers and clients will only create a bad image and cast them in bad light amongst the people. They are expected to uphold certain sacred virtues as a responsible corporate body and at all times promote patriotic and nationalistic objectives.
In this era of rule of law and with the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians are beginning to heave a sigh of relief that both government institutions, corporate bodies and private individuals will begin to obey the rule of law. A situation where we use our privileged position to thwart the course of justice should no longer prevail as it portrays Nigeria as a lawless society .
Due to the innovative moves of INNOSON, Nigerians can today buy a brand new car with only one million naira, whereas the foreign brands are in the range of three to four million naira. In this regard, we must ensure that such dream is not allowed to die; rather all efforts should be geared towards sustaining this singular attainment by INNOSON.
Government on its part ought to support indigenous manufacturers by banning the importation of vehicles, and secondly by compelling all government institutions to patronise only locally made vehicles such as INNOSON. By so doing, jobs will be made available locally, capital will reduce, and Nigerians will begin to have practical knowledge of technology transfer and manufacturing.
Obviously, an import-dependent economy will do more harm than good to our economy and in this era of sharp drop in oil prices the only alternative which we must resort to revive the economy is industrialisation all well meaning people and institutions can only but support, and not undermine their growth.
Mr. Enekwechi, a public affairs anlyst, wrote from Abuja.