By Ebele Orakpo
Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress – Li Keqiang, Chinese politician.
To ensure that Nigeria is counted among automobile manufacturers in the world, an industrialist, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, chairman of Innoson Group of Companies, took a bold step by investing in the Automobile sector. The Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Company has made Nigeria proud.
Today, they design and manufacture Hummer buses, Waste vans, Luxury buses, Hilux vans, Saloon cars, Jeeps and so on in Nigeria and by Nigerians.
Following in Innoson’s footsteps, seven final-year engineering students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, designed and constructed a mini bus from scratch with locally sourced materials made specially to suit Nigeria’s topography and climatic condition.
“The bus was constructed from start to finish at the University’s workshop, using all necessary design software and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools. We constructed the chassis, down to every single part of the mini bus,” said Callistus Ezeigwe, one of the seven.
The group, known as the Autozik Group, was made up of six males and a female including Callistus Ezeigwe, Victor Obinani, Ifeanyi Ezeanolue, Ogbu Ikenna, Fidelis Ominigbo, Nnamdi Nwobodo and Chinaza Okoro, was supervised by the then Head of Mechanical Engineering Department, Dr. C.H. Achebe.
“We made the mini bus using mere hand tools. This means we did all of the constructions and folding, with our hands, since the university could not provide us with ground equipment, as used in most automobile companies,” said Ezeugwu.
The mini bus which took about five months to complete, has a beautiful finishing so that people find it difficult to believe it was made in Nigeria.
Ezeigwe said the aim was to construct a mini bus using locally sourced materials, which is more durable and can better stand the test of time, compared to other brands out there.
“We named it Autobully,” said Obinani Victor, explaining that the brand name, coined from the normal bullion van, fits the shape of the mini bus.
The challenge: There is no doubt that Nigeria has talents but the challenge is how to tap harness them for the good of the nation. These youths have been able to achieve this feat with no help from expatriates. They have shown some sense of doggedness and proficiency and they must not be allowed to be swept away by the tide of brain drain.
Also in the same institution, five final-year engineering students produced a Formula 1 car (Racing car).
They appealed to the government to invest in these youths and channel resources to the Automobile sector as they seek to diversify the economy. They also appealed to the public to buy made in Nigeria products to grow the Naira.