The present economic slowdown in Nigeria has claimed another major casualty; Innoson Motor Vehicle Manufacturing has laid off upto 50% of her workforce pending the improvement in the economy and patronage.

Chief Innocent Chukwuma, founder/owner of the company made Nigeria proud by this his visionary move of pioneering the manufacturing of cars right here in Nigeria. He went further by building the factory right there in Nnewi, South East, Nigeria.

Images courtesy of the Federal Ministry of Information.

Once he had overcome all the initial bottlenecks including the kidnap and death of one of his expatriate workers and completed the factory, and stated production, he was praised to the high heavens by all and sundry including the government representatives from National Automotive Council, Bank of Industry etc.

The administration of President Jonathan also boosted his production with the introduction and implementation of the new automotive policy that was designed to encourage the local manufacturing and assembling of cars in Nigeria. This policy was designed to frustrate the importation of fully built cars from abroad by imposition of extremely high importation duty levies and ease of importation of parts and ‘Knocked Down’ parts for manufacturing and assembling respectively.

They went further by buying some of his cars for some government departments.

Host state, Anambra, was also very supportive as they built a road to the factory to ease their burden and bought hundreds of the cars in different configurations like SUVs (for traditional rulers and other uses), buses for schools and other uses, refuse trucks, pick-up trucks for security agencies and other uses etc.

At an event, the former governor, Mr peter Obi revealed how he fought some forces who kicked against his buying Innoson cars for the government on the premise that they won’t stand the test of time but he rebuked them that he will buy to patronize Innoson, improve the lot of the company and in extension that of the thousands of staff working there and surprisingly, most of those cars are still on the road till today, if not all.

I know that Enugu State under Barr SUllivan Chime also bought some cars from Innoson.

Many commercial transporters also bought his cars for their business including some newspaper houses who all use these cars regularly till date.

Sadlly, today, confirmed reports have it that half of the thousands hitherto working in the factory producing these cars have been regretfully laid-off because there has been no more patronage even from the federal and state governments that ought to have sustained their patronage of these products.

The federal government has plans of importing lots of BMW cars running into billions of Naira, several state governments recently bought thousands of cars for their security uses, including host state, Anambra with not one of these cars been bought from Innoson.

Hundreds of staff have been asked to go because there are lots of cars already produced but no patronage so no means of sustaining them. One can not blame Chief Chukwuma on this because he had borne the pains quietly for a long time before he asked them to go. But with the intention to recall them once there is an improvement in the fortunes of the company.

Yes, the overall economy in Nigeria is in shambles but cars are being bought regularly for government uses so why cant Innoson be commissioned to produce some of these cars even if not for the top executives?

We should remember that most of the brands being celebrated today were once fledgling like Innoson but got massive support from their governments before they took off and became much stronger.

In China, the Prime Minister uses Chinese brands for his cars, in America, the same, France, Britain, all patronize their local brand of cars thereby boosting their own economy, providing jobs and technological strength for thousands of people and help reduce their pressure on the Dollar that would have being expended in the importation of different brands.

For once, let us rise against political divides and ensure that this national pride is not allowed to be wasted because, it would mean taking a million steps backward after taking several steps forward. Even if his sins might have being just being a product of a combination of former president Goodluck Jonathan and His Excellency, former governor Peter Obi, please i beg the authorities that be to forgive and forget. Several lives depend on this as their source of livelihood, several would-have-been-criminals were kept off the streets by working there and the local economy would be for the better if this company is not allowed to die, including strengthening of the Naira against the Dollar as a lot of the pressure on the Dollar is as a result of importation of cars into the country.

Or is the government preaching to the masses to patronize locally manufactured items while they patronize foreign made goods?

We the citizens need to patronize him also but it is imperative that the government takes the lead.

You really need to watch the video below to appreciate the efforts of Chief Innocent Chukwuma and his contributions to the Nigerian auto industry.

                                                        Video credit: Youtube.

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