By Chukwudi Enekwechi
INNOSON Vehicles Manufacturing Company has been acknowledged as Nigeria’s first indigenous automobile manufacturer and the recognition did not come by happenstance. It was based on the company having attained an enviable height in the way it carries out its businesses. At the last count, almost all Nigerian media organisations have honoured Chief Innocent Chukwuma, the founder of Innoson Group for his patriotism, entrepreneurial skills and adherence to the rule of law.
Similarly, the Federal Government has in recognition of his achievements, feted Chief Chukwuma with some of the country’s most revered national honours. Several foreign countries and organisations have also honoured him for the innovation that has made the Innoson brand a reality.
The company as a responsible corporate organisation had also undertaken to relieve the Federal Government of the burden of training thousands of repentant Niger-Delta militants abroad, by offering them training in their factories at Nnewi and Enugu. This approach ensured that the repentant militants acquired relevant skills with which to fend for themselves in the larger society.
The policy of training the repentant militants at Innoson company’s facilities rather than abroad has also ensured that the scarce foreign exchange which would have been lost to foreigners is saved, as Innoson provided the same service to the country at minimal cost.
Suffice it to say that the enormous resources saved by training the numerous repentant militants locally can be deployed in other areas of need. The trainees on graduation, will also utilise the acquired skills to earn decent living and contribute to the country’s growth and development.
It is also on record that Innoson has always resorted to the courts in resolving matters related to business transactions. A typical example of their unwavering faith in the judiciary is the consistent way they have pursued their matters with the GT Bank over the years. Having felt short-changed in their business dealings with the bank, they have pursued the matter from the High Court to Court of Appeal and presently, the matter is awaiting adjudication at the apex court of the country. This is a proof of the absolute faith they repose in the Nigerian Judicial system.
Going by the company’s track record, it is obvious that they are focussed on projecting Nigeria positively in the area of automobile manufacturing and technological development. It has remained consistent in carrying out its activities as an automobile manufacturer, and in doing this, they have made the progress of Nigeria paramount. In short, it can be said that they have been able to strike a balance between profit-making and national interest.
It therefore behoves all Nigerians to appreciate Innoson as Nigeria’s automobile brand. We can take examples from Germany which is known with Mercedes and BMW; Ford which is an American brand name, Volvo well known as Swedish brand and Rolls Royce which is associated with Great Britain. It is also a thing of national pride that Innoson is adopted as the nation’s brand. Such a move will also create jobs and stimulate the economy of the country as the company will earn foreign exchange from their sales abroad and repatriate same to Nigeria.
Therefore, it is imperative to give Innoson all the necessary incentives to thrive as their contributions to the country’s economic and social development are innumerable. The company has also demonstrated its commitment towards supporting government’s efforts at job creation, as well as making Nigeria a productive rather than a consumptive economy. Time has come for the Federal Government to grant the company tax reliefs and duty waivers to enable it operate without hitches.
This also brings to the fore the need for the Federal Government to prioritise the manufacturers in Nigeria that should be given support to enable them survive through the uncertainties of the national economy, and one of them is Innoson. Simply put, an enabling environment must be created to enable such national priority companies wade through the thick and thin of the business world because in the end, their survival and growth will be to the ultimate benefit of Nigeria and its people.
A situation where some vested interests under any guise attempt to frustrate the growth of the company is condemnable and must be discouraged in the larger interest of the country. Based on the shenanigans of such vested interests, it is obvious they are agents of some foreign powers that are hell-bent on denying Nigeria the opportunity of being an automobile –producing country which Innoson is already spearheading.
•Mr. Enekwechi, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.