The quest to have a wholly made in Nigeria car with all fabrication including the engines done in-country is possible within the next five years if the challenges faced by Innoson Motors are addressed by the Federal Government.
The Chairman of the Nnewi based vehicle manufacturing outfit, Chief Innocent Chukwuma on a visit to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu in Abuja on Monday said 60 percent of materials used in Innoson vehicles are local sources and produced.
Chukwuma said the company which was commissioned in 2010 by former President Goodluck Jonathan became the first indigenous vehicle manufacturing company producing several brands of vehicles.
According to him, “Our mission by the grace of God is to drastically reduce the prices of vehicles and cut down the country’s dependence on imported vehicles. We did it with motorcycles, we can do it again with motor vehicles”.
He assured the minister that the vision of the company is line with government’s dream “to make Nigeria one of the world’s to twenty industrialized nations in the year 2020. And be rest assured we are already there”.
Chukwuma however, urged the government to tackle some of the diffult challenges faced by the manufacturing sector in the country including poor power supply and access to foreign exchange to import vital components like engines.
“To make these challenges less difficult, we wish to humbly make the following requests: Our major request is to help us with accessing foreign exchange to enable us source raw materials/components needed from overseas to enable us keep and maintain our over 7,200 employees.
“Efficient power supply will power the over 100 industries that have made Nnewi the Taiwan of Africa; and we wish to also request for a government policy to ensure that home-made goods are protected and patronized by all levels of government and her agencies”, he added.
In his response, Dr. Onu assured the Innoson group of government’s commitment to create a conducive business environment for the manufacturing sector in the country.
The Minister said once the 2016 budget is signed into law, government would procure only made in Nigeria vehicles for its official use.
He said: “We thank you so much for the efforts you are making working with the armed forces to make sure that many of the things that we I port into the country are manufactured here in Nigeria.
“We are very grateful, exceptionally grateful and we want to assure you that the federal ministry of science and technology will support you, we will corporate and collaborate with you and we are going to lead the very urgent need in the nation to patronize Nigerian made goods.
The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology will do it by example, we are just waiting for the budget to be out but as soon as the budget is out the Minister of Science and Technology will only drive in cars made in Nigeria and that vehicles in the Ministry of Science and Technology and all our agencies, 17 agencies, will be directed to patronize Nigerian made products.
“There is no other way that Nigeria can become a great nation except when we Nigerians patronize made in Nigeria products. It has worked in other countries and it will work here, all we need is to make sure that the minimum standard is maintained”, he added.
While commending the company for attaining 60 percent local content in its vehicles, he assured Innoson that government would support the company to achieve 100 percent local production.
Producing every component in-country would mean “that there will be so many small and medium scale industries that will spring around him to produce parts that will support what he is doing and this way we will be in a position to lift many people out of poverty and our quest for technological development will be easier to satisfy.
“We are very happy that the Chairman, founder and chief executive officer of Innoson Motors is a Nigerian that he is very proud to be a Nigerian and he is ready to do whatever it takes to make sure that the image of our country is made far greater than it is today”, he stressed.