Emeka Osonduwrites on the successes, local and international recognitions of Dr. Innocent Chukwuma for his trail blazing efforts in the production of goods that are people oriented
Strangely, in recent times, many business concerns appear to be at crossroads, while some others are still afloat, delving into new ventures as well as reaching out for greater heights. Yet, there cannot be so much blame for those of them closing shop because of the current global economic meltdown.
But not minding the setbacks in the economy, those companies that have succeeded in blazing the trail appear to have one thing in common: they have the ability to use service delivery as a tool for growth by creating new inroads into the peoples’ need in an entirely new ways.
Interestingly, the society in which they have impacted always take particular notice of their activities and are more often set out to reward and reinforce them for such effective performances. No wonder, the recent recognition on Innoson Group of Companies, an indigenous firm pioneering the local production of various products as the 2012 African Business Award in London for its cream of successes in Nigeria and Africa.
A recent press statement from the company, which was made available to THISDAY in Awka, stated that the award was given to the company at a recent colorful ceremony that attracted top business executives and government officials around the world at Grosvenor House Hotel London.
According to the statement, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company, Dr Innocent Chukwuma, received the award on behalf of the Innoson Group. Explaining the enormous contributions of Innoson Group at the occasion, Mr Galib Virani of Afren International, an upstream oil and gas Company recalled that Innoson Industrial record is not only outstanding but also heartwarming.
“Innoson Group represents the best of Nigeria, and obviously the champion of Africa. It is a thing of pride to have such a high profile group in African continent,” Virani stated. Six distinguished business experts- Jean- Louis Ekra Runa Alam, Amadou Ba, Barbara James, Sir Samuel Jonah and Tim Turner formed the panel constituted by the Commonwealth Business Council and African Business that vetted the nominees and recommended the Innoson Group after assessing her business leadership skills as having the ability to overcome tough hurdles in a hostile business environment like Nigeria.
The team also considered the group’s meteoric rise into auto parts engineering,
assemblage and manufacture of automobiles in Nigeria and submitted that “there is no doubt that Africa, especially Nigeria’s improved reputation today is largely due to the achievements of leaders like Innoson Group, and we wholeheartedly cherish your exceptional contribution to the economic and social development of Africa continent.
The Bank of industry nominated Innoson Group for this year award. African Business Magazine and the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) in partnership with Business in Africa Events United Kingdom put the epoch-making annual event together.
The series, which started some years back, have become one of the most prestigious events on the African business calendar. The awards spanning up to thirteen different categories cover various segments’, which relate to the development of the African Continent, and enabling environment for business to thrive.
The 2012 event however coincides with the second commonwealth Economic forum, whose theme focused on reshaping Capitalism for global prosperity and sustainable growth as well as highlighting the positive impact of business on society.
Innoson Group of Companies was incorporated in 2002 and has many subsidiaries including: Innoson Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of various kinds of motorcycles and tricycles, based in the industrial city of Nnewi, Anambra State; Innoson Technical and Industrial Company Limited: manufacturers of all kinds of plastic and allied products, based at Enugu; General Tyres and Tubes Company Limited, Enugu, as well as Innoson Motor Manufacturing Company Limited based at Nnewi.
But what appears to have generated a lot of interest in the business community is the group’s recent investment in automobile manufacturing, through which it has succeeded in manufacturing the first truly made in Nigeria vehicles.
A visit to the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited, an auto plant located in the industrial city of Nnewi gives one the initial feeling of surprise, as it is a vast and gigantic project with awesome machinery and tools. The auto plant was built by Chukwuma, in partnership with Chinese auto makers. Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing however does not limit itself to the production of refuse haulage trucks. It manufactures a range of other vehicles, including SUV vehicles, double cabin pickups, 18-and 14-seater mini-buses and coaster buses among others.
A team of inspectors from the National Automotive Council, led by Mr. Akintunde Zedomi, which recently toured the plant, confirmed that the products of the company were of international standard and commended the proprietor for keying into the Federal Government vision for transforming the country. So far, the presence of the gigantic plant has drawn much positive attention to the industrial city of Nnewi and marked out Anambra state as unique in the comity of states in the country, being the first to host the production of the first truly Nigerian vehicles.
Again, the company with about 30 per cent Chinese expatriates and 70 per cent indigenous workers has no fewer than 3000 staff in its employ. Its presence is a motivator to other small scale manufacturing firms especially those dealing in motor auto spare parts and accessories.
As usual, because of the intricacies involved in motor manufacturing, many indigenous members of staff of the company have had to undergo specialised trainings to acquire the much-needed technological skill in auto manufacturing. Currently, it was gathered that the company has so often sold its products at cheaper rates to churches and some other organisations, to complement government’s efforts in cushioning the face of fuel subsidy removal.
But the chairman and chief executive officer of the company, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma told THISDAY that Innoson Motor Manufacturing Company is greatly challenged by the persistent erratic power supply in the area. He explained that if there is stable power supply, production cost would be lowered and as such lead to stability. Given that situation, he said that prices of products would go down drastically.
“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.” Chukwuma nevertheless appealed for incentives from government including facilities and patronages, to enable the company out-grow its teething problems and contribute its quota in effective national growth.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State who recently acquired some vehicles from the manufacturing firm, described the company’s proprietor as a man of vision and ingenuity whose activities have given boost to the growth of the state and nation’s economy. Obi therefore assured that the state government would continue to encourage and support him in his sustained efforts to create wealth for the nation.
Apparently, as a result of his efforts to bring growth and development to the people, the late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua honoured Chukwuma with the national award of Officer of the Order on the Niger, OON. Also recently President Goodluck Jonathan awarded him a title of Member of the Federal Republic, MFR.
Inagurating the Innoson Motor Manufacturing Plant on Friday October 15, 2010, President Jonathan said “Today is the day we are all happy because this is an indication of the drive we are expecting as we enter fifty years of our journey as an independent nation. “We’ve always been saying that since 1960, a number of other countries were with us at the same level of economic and industrial developments. But they have all left us behind and the present Nigerian generation agrees that we must retrace our history and move forward and meet them up and pass them.
“It gives me joy to note that the Innoson Vehicle Plant is not just assembling parts that are imported. But from all indication so far, it is only the engine that he brings in from his partner in China, and every other thing is built here. And even abroad, no particular company produces everything, whether aircraft or even turbines,” the President said.