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Monday, February 19, 2018

LEADERSHIP Awards: I’ll Phase Out Tokunbo Cars In 5 Years – Innoson


The chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Innoson Group, manufacturers of the INNOSON brand of vehicles, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, has stated that his dream is to phase out the use of second- hand vehicles, otherwise known as Tokunbo, from Nigerian roads within the next five years. 

The Innoson boss stated this at the weekend when a delegation from the LEADERSHIP Group, publishers of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, led by the business development manager, Mrs Mariam Ogbe, visited him in his Umudim, Nnewi, Nnewi North local government area of Anambra State to deliver to him a letter conveying to him his selection by the management and editorial board of the newspaper as the LEADERSHIP Business Person  Of The Year 2017.

Ogre said the award presentation had become an annual ritual since it was initiated some years ago by the newspaper firm to promote the growth of the nation’s economy by identifying and honouring individuals and corporate organisations that are making immense contributions in diverse sectors towards the overall growth of the nation’s economy.

She noted that this year’s event had been slated to take place on March 29, 2018, at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. She informed Chief Chukwuma that he came top amongst 11 others who were considered for the award, adding that part of his contributions which particularly made the panellists chose him for the award was the success stories of his vehicle manufacturing company (IVM) which has earned him admiration, locally and internationally, as “proprietor of the first Indigenous African motor manufacturing company”.

In his response, Chukwuma stated that he was not just happy because the LEADERSHIP management found him worthy to be given the award, but that the gesture has particularly encouraged him to work harder for the growth of the country’s economy because he had seen that people and corporate organisations were appreciating his efforts and contributions toward the growth of the country’s economy.

Stating that his dream was to phase out the use of second-hand vehicles in Nigeria within the next five years or, latest, in 10 years’ time, the Innoson boss added that if given the necessary support by Nigerians, he would force down the price of brand new cars so much that ordinary Nigerians can afford to buy.

He commended the federal government under President Muhammad Buhari for initiating policies which are encouraging local manufacturers by giving directives to government agencies and other institution, as well as individual citizens to patronise locally made goods. The Innoson boss, however, stated that what was left now was for government officials and other Nigerians to heed government’s clarion call by patronising locally-made goods.

He disclosed that the Innoson Group has a workforce of 7,300 and consists of five manufacturing companies, adding that the group’s plastic industry located at Emene in Enugu State is the best of its kind in the world.

Chief Chukwuma said: “Let me start by welcoming you. When I heard the news few months ago that the management and Board of Editors of Leadership Group had found me worthy to be given award as the Leadership Producer of the Year 2017, I was very happy. I was very happy because it showed me that my little efforts in contributing to the growth of industry in our country are not only being noticed but that it is being appreciated. This is because I know that this award you are giving me is because of the role I am playing in promoting the economy of our country. “I feel highly encouraged, and it makes me to know that when anybody is doing something, and, he is doing it well, people are noticing, and that one day people will show him appreciation for that. 

“When I started all these companies, I didn’t expect that the effort will earn me any recognition in Nigeria, and in the entire Africa. This shows me that it is good for somebody to work hard; that hard word pays, especially when you do it very well. For instance, as at today, I have received about five national honours.” He noted that the recognition outstrips financial gain. “So, it is not particularly about making profit, or financial gain. It is about doing something perfectly so that you will be recognised in the society, in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. So, when people recognise that what you are doing, you are doing it well, it is more than making financial gain. “I am particularly happy for this award the Leadership Group is giving me because the owners of the company are not people from this area (South East zone of the country); they are from the Northern part of the country. 

It shows that the management of the company knows what they are doing. And just like I said before, even though I have received many awards, this is one of the awards I cherish very, very well.”

Chief Chukwuma promised to collaborate with the management of the company. “So, I am going to donate a vehicle, employ a driver, and fuel the vehicle so that it will be going to the Owerri airport every morning to carry your newspapers, so that they will be distributing them everywhere here for people to read,” he said.

“My dream is to phase out the use of second hand vehicles in Nigeria within the next five or ten years time. I want to push down the price of vehicles in this country, such that an ordinary man can afford the price of a brand new car. It is the same thing in motorcycle. My first business was motorcycle business. When I started motorcycle business, one motorcycle was sold at N150,000, but, I pushed down the price to N60,000. At that time the companies that were importing motorcycle into Nigeria were putting between 30 and 36 crates in a 40ft container. And this made the price of motorcycle they imported to be high. What I did was that I went to Overseas, crashe the motorcycle parts and I will put about 220 crates in a 40ft container. When they arrived here they price became cheaper. This made other importers to learn from me. 

“I want to do a similar thing in vehicle. All I need is the support of Nigerians by patronizing locally made vehicles. The federal government has given us the basic support by making a policy that locally made goods should be patronized. The only problem is the government officials are not complying with the government policy to patronize locally made goods. The government officials still prefer foreign made vehicles. So, if Nigerians give us the necessary support, I will push out second hand vehicles from Nigerian roads”,the Innoson boss stated further.


By Okechukwu Obeta

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