The patriotic and inspiring story of the evolution of Innoson Motors is a pointer to the fact that one man can make a big difference by being an agent of change. From the humble beginning as a spare-part trader to becoming the Chairman of IVM Innoson Group of Companies Limited, the rise and rise story of Innocent Chukwuma is so fascinating and has become a trail blazing story for the Nigerian youths.
It is amazing how a man will ever consider investing in a terrain considered by professional analysts as a ‘mission impossible’. Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, was born in 1961 in Umudim, Nnewi,in Anambra State and popularly known as Innoson, is the Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) Co. Ltd, the first indigenous vehicle manufacturing plant in Nigeria.
After his education, he started trading in spare parts under the name Innoson Nigeria Ltd in 1981. His burning passion to see Nigerians drive their own brand new cars has been a major drive for this change gladiator that has surmounted both local and international hurdles to bring Nigeria to the forefront of automobile revolution in Africa and beyond.
In February 2007, Chukwuma incorporated Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited (IVM) to produce sundry commercial automobiles, utility vehicles and passenger cars; the vehicles in IVM fleet range from cars, trucks, SUVs, compactors, etc. According to him, his goal, apart from putting Nigeria on the map of vehicle manufacturing countries, is to stop Nigerians from buying fairly used vehicles, popularly known as Tokunbo, as is now the case.
Due to our demented and inferior taste for second hand cars, coupled with the fact that over 80 percent of Nigerians cannot afford brand new vehicles, Nigeria has now become a dumping ground and ‘waste basket’ for both developed and developing nations! Presently, the company has made in-road into some African countries such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Chad, Niger and Togo. Innoson Motors are built with the state of the roads in the country in mind and they are more rugged than the imported ones.
His success story has ensured employment for over 7,500 Nigerians who work in the company’s factory. Due to his outstanding contributions to the development of Nigeria, he has been given several awards locally, nationally and internationally.
- Meritorious Award by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in 2008,
- Award of Excellence by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in October 2008,
- MANCAP Award of Excellence by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in 2008,
- National Honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in December 2008,
- prestigious National Honours of the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) in 2010,
- Distinguished Entrepreneurship Award for Indigenous Excellence in automobile Manufacturing by The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in 2010,
- National Honours of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) on November 2011,
- Special Presidential Merit Award (2011) by the Nigerian Society of Engineers.
- In February 2012, INNOSON Motors won the African Business Of The Year Award, at a ceremony held in London, conferred by the Commonwealth Business Council and African Business Magazine.
We need patriotic examples from the ’top’, I look forward to seeing President Muhammadu Buhari officially declaring Innoson Motors as Nigerian authentic brand; It will be a new way of branding the nation.
Germany is synonymous with Mercedes, Volkswagen and BMW; United States of America is notable for Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet; United Kingdom is known for Rolls Royce; Sweden has Volvo as a national pride, while Peugeot is the brand associated with France.
I am personally reaching out to patriotic Nigerians to support the Innoson Motors and make it our own national pride and brand. Annually, billions of naira and resources are used by government and individuals to import vehicles from foreign countries, these strange mentality and attitude will continually deplete our foreign exchange reserves and empower the down fall of the Nigerian naira against other foreign currencies.
My candid advice to the Federal Government is to provide a conducive atmosphere for indigenous entrepreneurs to re-invest into the Nigerian economy. It is high time we revisited the Ajaokuta steel Company dilemma because we are losing so much forex to the importation of steel.
I am excited about the perspective of the Honourable Minister for Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi, on the lingering resolutions and the need to clear all legal hurdles surrounding the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited for it to begin to function. Mr. Fayemi decried the trillions of naira spent annually on steel importation into the country and has assured to work assiduously to make the dream of Steel production in Nigeria a reality.
by Gbenga Adebambo