ALL over the world countries are usually identified or associated with brand names of the products they manufacture. This practice has been long established in most industrialised countries, and many examples abound.
For instance, Germany is synonymous with Mercedes, Volkswagen BMW and other hardware like Caterpillar. United States of America is notable as the manufacturer of Ford, Chevrolet and airplanes (Boeing). United Kingdom is known with Rolls Royce. Sweden has Volvo as its brand, while Peugeot is the brand associated with France. Apart from automobiles, there are numerous articles of trade or products that are promoted as brands for different countries.
It is worthy of note that these brands are not essentially official products of the various countries, but the mere fact that they are manufactured in those countries automatically the state provides all the necessary support for the product to thrive within and outside the country. In fact, as part of their strategic economic policy, commercial attaches of various countries in foreign embassies are mandated to use their paraphnelia of office to promote products manufactured in their home countries.
Therefore, in the spirit of the “change” agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, there is the need for the incoming ministers, mostly in trade and investment, industry and foreign affairs to design a co-ordinated blueprint that will enable their various ministries promote indigenous brands like INNOSON vehicles abroad. To do this, it is important that all necessary incentives are provided for the company to grow to international brands like Ford, Mercedes, Volvo and Peugeot. We must realise that INNOSON has made Nigeria proud as the first indigenous automobile manufacturer which vehicles are being exported abroad presently. As a nation, we can indeed utilise the INNOSON brand of vehicles to dominate the West African sub region and this comes with other multiplier effects.
There is no gain saying that trade has become a tool in diplomacy. This is even a historical fact if we remember the roles UAC and other multi-national companies played in the years before and after independence. It can therefore be said that the benefits derivable from such partnership between state and her indigenous companies like INNOSON are innumerable. While the company will repatriate foreign exchange to the country from its sales abroad, the image of the country will also be boosted as other countries will easily give credit to the country were the products originated from. Also, government and the people will reap from the numerous job opportunities that will result from the productive activities of INNOSON.
The need to urgently set machinery in motion towards realising this objective of adopting INNOSON as Nigeria’s official auto brand cannot be over emphasised. With our dwindling oil fortunes and the federal government avowed commitment towards the diversification of the nation’s economy, one sector that ought to be supported fully, apart from mining and agriculture is the automotive industry. Apart from the direct jobs this sector is capable of creating for our teeming youths, the multiplier effects such as the supply of spare parts, rubber, plastics and other ancillary industries will greatly impact on the nation’s economy positively.
Additionally, by kick starting and giving full support to companies like INNOSON, Nigeria will position herself as an industrial hub in West Africa, and the entire African continent as a whole. It is possible and all that is required is a strong political will to achieve it.
There is no doubt that our over reliance on oil as the major source of revenue has retarded out progress, and put the nation’s economy at risk, especially in the light of current global oil glut. The good news however, is that as a nation we have companies like INNOSON that have over the years invested billions of dollars in the nation despite obvious challenges such as in epileptic power supply and lack of adequate infrastructure.
This approach goes to show that such investors have abiding faith in the growth and development of the nation. It must be acknowledged that the only way to sustain investors’ confidence in our economy is for government at all levels to provide the enabling environment and necessary incentives for companies such as INNOSON.
With the huge number of unemployed graduates in the country, only a boisterous private sector can help government curb the scourge of unemployment. If we use INNOSON which has employed over 15,000 Nigerians in their company as a barometer to gauge how impactful the private sector will help the growth of the country’s economy, it immediately demonstrates that if government support is increased, it will lead to expansion on the part of the companies.
Therefore, as the new ministers settle in, it is expected that they will collectively help to fastrack the vision of President Buhari to lift Nigeria from the abyss of unemployment, hunger and want by supporting indigenous auto motor companies like INNOSON in their industrialisation drive.
It is gratifying that INNOSON has already expanded the frontiers of its operations to other West African countries and the only way this can be sustained is through government patronage.
In fact, a policy should be enacted to make it mandatory for all government ministries, departments and agencies to buy only made in Nigeria vehicles, such as INNOSON. Once this is done, it will serve as an elixir for them to redouble their efforts at factory expansion, and this no doubt comes
with more openings for job opportunities.
It must be clearly stated that government on its own cannot absorb the army of unemployed youths in Nigeria, but once a synergy is established with the private sector by providing unwavering support to such indigenous companies like INNOSON, then the perennial problem of unemployment will be adequately addressed.
Mr. Chukwudi Enekwechi a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.