By: Chuks Collins, Awka
Just as the Presidency unveils auto-gas as option for fuel in the country, the Nnewi, Anambra state-based premier local vehicle manufacturing company -Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Ltd, (IVM) is already getting set to enter the world of electric cars manufacturing.
Making the disclosure in an exclusive interview at his Nnewi factory site office yesterday, the Chief Executive of the indigenous vehicles manufacturing company, Dr Innocent Chukwuma said that IVM has already planned ahead in that regards.
Our Anambra State Correspondent CHUKS COLLINS, was there
Q: Expectations of INNOSON Motors in the next decade?:
The auto industry in Nigeria today is enjoying positive progressing as could be, considering our peculiar circumstance. The nation is doing its best to spearhead the direction of the industry in Africa. With the support of our citizens, in the next few years Nigeria would be described as the hub of auto industry in Africa.
Q: Electronic cars are gearing to take over from the conventional petroleum cars. How prepared is Innoson Motors to join the growing trend?
We are very ready and prepared. Presently we have not started to manufacture vehicle engines, what we are doing is the manufacture of the body of vehicles. So, if electric cars become the ultimate, we will then begin to buy the batteries, instead of the engines we presently use. It’s simple. That’s why I said that we are prepared for the coming trend.
Q: Are you satisfied with the current level of local patronage, from the governments, corporate organizations and individuals?
Well, I can say that local patronage is doing well. It’s understandable that it will be progressively gradual. The corporate citizens, governments at all levels and individuals are trying their best in patronizing us. We are very confident that in the near future we will have substantial patronage from them. It’s indeed improving steadily.
Q: What are other challenges you are encountering apart from patronage?
A lot. Electricity is one of them. Though its witnessing a commendable improvement. Actually when we started there were a lot of challenges but today the government has done a lot to support the industry. We started when there was no electricity at all. But there is a lot of improvement today.
Dr Chukwuma (Innoson) at 60:
Born to the family of Mr and Mrs Chukwuma Muojekwu as the sixth and last child of the family on October 1,1960, the arrival of the young boy coincided with the day Nigeria gained her independence. Hence it was a double celebration for the entire family.
He didn’t waste time to make foray into the corporate world even as a mere assistant to one of his elder brothers -Gabriel Chukwuma (popularly known as Gabros) in his patent medicine retail shop, while he awaited the result of his Joint Admission and Matriculation Examination. He had applied to read Mechanical Engineering. Unfortunately he could not make the required cut off point.
It didn’t take long before his brother, Gabros discover his young brother’s deep talent in business. Consequently he sent him to Chief Pius Chukwuma, the elder brother to Dr Cosmas Maduka (Coscharis) to learn motor/motor cycle spare parts trade.
As a man marked for greatness, the young Innocent within a short space of time he turned the four thousand Naira given to him by Gabros as a take-off fund to start his own business when he concluded his apprenticeship training under Maduka in 1981 into a conglomerate of international repute.
Dr Chukwuma, like a mustard seed has blossomed in multidimensional sectors. He is endowed with razor-sharp intellect and business acumen that has literally turned everything he touched into gold.
Today, he has become an entrepreneurial juggernaut, a chile of destiny that has shattered all barriers and surpassed all expectations to succeed.
He became the first private Nigerian to locally assemble and subsequently manufacture the Innoson brands of Motorcycles and Motor vehicles in Nigeria. He shoved, braved and persisted the rough and tough times and terrain of the nation’s business and economic environment to become one of the most accomplished Nigerian in the manufacturing industry today. Among the brand range of Innoson Motors are sedans, SUVs, pick-up trucks, big and smaller commuter buses, rugged SUVs and many more for everyone’s need.
Dr Chukwuma by dint of very hard work and perseverance moved steadily and sure-footedly from petty trading of buying and selling spare parts to importation, then now into manufacturing, distributing and exporting various products including motor vehicles.
He has become a giant in the manufacturing sector in Nigeria today.
To most of his friends, associates and longstanding customers, Dr Chukwuma’s birthday is a celebration of sixty full years life of industry, thinking outside the box. He has seen it all, -hardship, rough business terrain, challenges and tough times. But because he persevered, his life and testimony has now become a cheering lesson to many.
In the words of his in-laws and close associate, Chief (Sir) Louis Carter Onwugbenu, Dr Chukwuma (popularly called Innoson) “is a child of destiny that before he was even born God had already marked him for what he is today. Such that no efforts by detractors and enemies to frustrate his lofty dreams of taking Nigerian manufacturing industry to higher pedestal will succeed.
Onwugbenu also urged the governments at all levels led by the Federal Government to patronize IVM considering that he has in his employ more than five thousand Nigerians (5,000).
Taking a cue from the British government where no government official is allowed to use any other vehicle brand except those manufactured in Britain, Onwugbenu appealed to the FG to consider making Innoson brand of vehicles the official brand of government. This would in no small way bolster all that the Nnewi-based vehicle firm is doing. It would not only encourage foreign governments to buy more of it, create more room for employment, more credit, more taxes, etc
Dr. Chukwuma, has indeed shattered the glass ceiling by delving into the development and establishment of other business subsidiaries such as: *Innoson Technical and Industries Coy Ltd, Enugu, manufactures of Quality house hold and industrial plastics, Health and Safety Accessories, Storage Containers, Fixtures and Fittings, Electrical Components and Accessories.
*General Tyres and Tubes Coy Ltd Enugu – manufactures of high quality Tyres and tubes.
*Innoson Communication Ltd. – manufactures of set of top boxes for digitalized televisions etc.
*- Innoson Wood Industrial Ltd., producers of wood and processing.
*- Innoson Oil and Gas Ltd., – Exploration and distribution of hydrocarbon energy, products and services among others.
In the words of his in-law and close associate Chief Sir Louis I. Onwugbenu, Louis Carter, Ifediaso is a child of destiny who has continued to blaze the trail and excel despite deliberate strategies by his detractors to frustrate him and kill his dream. Chief Onwugbenu attribute the stellar and dazzling achievements of Chief Chukwuma to mercies and graces of God who on creation morning had destined him to be what he is today.
Capping the legion of honours and awards in his kitty is Chief Chukwuma’s conferment with the centenary award by former President GoodLuck Ebele Jonathan, in February 2014, the only recipient from the South East, Nigeria. He also has National honour of the Order of the Federal Republic OFR, and the Chancellor, Imo State University.
There is no doubting the obvious that it is the “can do spirit of the Igbo”honesty, hardwork, truth and resilience that have continued to propel the drive and passion for Dr. Chukwuma, to excel.
Though many would say the sky is his limit but to this prodigious entrepreneur, Chief Dr. Chukwuma, he says the sky is his starting point.
Chukwuma, is happily married to Mrs. Ebele Chukwuma. The marriage is blessed with 5 children. Onwugbenu prays that God grant the vehicle manufacturing giant more robust years to enable him break more grounds.
Another associate of Dr Chukwuma, who is the Director General of the National Inland Water Ways, Chief George Nnadubem Moghalu described him as a pillar of hope for everyone that wants to succeed in life. He said that a study of the profile of Innoson speaks volume of the tenacity of a determined mind.
Moghalu who is presenting himself for the 2021 Governorship election in Anambra state on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress said that the birthday celebration which comes up today is surely a celebration of achievements too numerous to mention. He saluted his courage, having started from a very humble beginning to a giant that he has become today.
A Lagos-based businessman and close pal of Innoson, Mr TobeOlisa Oli while commending the lessons the business icon has bestowed on the world, having started from literally little seed has today become a reputable conglomerate.
He charged youths who want to succeed to learn from him, instead of daydreaming of how to succeed in a twinkle of an eye. According to him, Innoson’s sixty years today is a long work from hardship to success. He therefore urged all to emulate him. Himself also an Anambra 2021 governorship hopeful expressed joy at the high number of employment opportunities the car manufacturer has provided to many Nigerian homes.