Nigeria’s first and only indigenous auto plant, Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company Limited (IVM), Nnewi, was abuzz on Thursday as its newly built automated bus plant was inaugurated by the President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries Mines And Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu. Financed jointly by the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) and the Bank of industry (BOI), the automated manufacturing process takes vehicle production at the Nnewi plant to a more advanced level with flexibility, efficiency, increased capacity and considerable reduction in the prices of Innoson vehicles, as some of its gains. Already, news of the major benefit of the automated plant – the reduction of the price of each unit of Innoson 15-17-seater bus, popularly called ‘Hummer’, from N14M to N9M. – has set ripples across the auto market as transporters renew their fleets ahead of the Christmas/New Year season. Remarkably, auto industry stakeholders, including the Director-General of NADDC, Aliyu Jelani, believe that the bus production lines have reinforced IVM position as the example of the desired benefits the National Automotive Industrial Development Plan (NAIDP) and the Automotive Policy: NACCIMA canvasses patronage of IVM vehicles Commissioning the bus plant, Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, commended Innoson for the investment made towards ensuring that the indigenous auto plant produces vehicles of international standards as required in the local market. The NACCIMA President earned applause when she remarked: “As a member of the chamber movement, I have some knowledge of the growth and development of Innoson, from its early days as a motorcycle spare parts dealer and subsequently venturing into motorcycle manufacturing. “This is certainly a confirmation of the fact that if we put our minds to it, we will succeed in our endeavour in the Nigerian private sector, and NACCIMA as a national chamber has a large pool of entrepreneurs in this regard across the country.” She called on various tiers of government to provide a conducive environment for genuine manufacturers, who through huge investments like Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company’s plant in Nnewi, provide jobs, contribute substantially to the GDP (gross domestic product), and fast-track industrialization.
However, Hajiya Saratu argued that Innoson needs more than a conducive environment, and appealed to the Federal, state and local governments, their agencies and departments, as well as other automobiles buyers in the country, to always patronise the IVM-badged range of vehicles. ‘We should make it a point of duty to patronise our own, just like the border is currently closed and we are eating our own rice,” she said, stressing that the nation’s quest to develop the private sector could only be realised, if Nigerians support made-in-Nigeria products. Hajiya Saratu, who led a team of NACCIMA officials, including the Director-General, Ayo Olukanmi; Deputy President, Dele Oye, and Anambra/Nnewi chamber leaders; said she was impressed with the milestones the Innoson auto plant had achieved since the last time she visited it a few years ago. Chukwuma heads NACCIMA auto group The NACCIMA President announced that in recognition of his giant strides in the nation’s auto manufacturing industry, the Chairman of IVM/Innoson Group of Companies, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, had been officially named the leader of the chamber’s automobile sectoral group. With the new assignment, Chukwuma (as the Chairman) and his new committee, “are now in-charge of certifying vehicles imported into Nigeria.” Welcoming the guests, the Chairman of Innoson Vehicles, stated that the commissioning of this new plant has considerably raised the auto maker’s production capacity, ensured efficient use of materials, and improved product quality, safety and profitability. Chief Chukwuma said, “I am glad to announce that this newly installed plant has successfully reduced the cost of brand new 15-17-seater (‘Hummer’) buses from N14m to N9m” “We intend to duplicate the success of this production line to other production lines which include; the SUV, MPV, and sedan production lines. We will not stop until an average Nigerian can comfortably purchase a brand new vehicle” He assured that with the boost in installed capacity and the ability to produce a wide variety of vehicles in the various sections of the Nnewi plant, “we are now in a stronger position to produce and deliver large numbers of vehicles on demand. Of course, you are aware that no vehicle manufacturer produces, stocks and waits for buyers. Auto plants produce on demand.” The IVM Nnewi was commissioned on October 15, 2010, by former President Goodluck Jonathan. He had on the occasion directed that all Federal Government’s vehicular needs should be procured from the plant, which was then producing mainly light commercial vehicles, including pick-ups and mini buses, with the then Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra leading by example, by ensuring that the state patronised IVM vehicles. The range has since been expanded to include, passenger vehicles like midi and mass transit carriers, sedans, SUVs and MPVs, as well as special purpose vehicles like refuse compactors, military hardwares and ambulance.