INNOSON MOTORS: BE THAT CHANGE!

IVMBarack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” We must believe that we are agents of change, there is no time that a man has so much abused his existence than when he leaves the world the same way he met it! John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) inspired a whole nation with one of his awe-inspiring quotes, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. We are living in a country that has perpetuated decadence and eulogized impunity, the most abused word in Nigeria presently is the word ‘Change’, the gospel of change has now become a mischievous way of indicting the government in the face of obvious dereliction of individual duties and responsibilities. The chanting and tantrums of ‘change’ has now become the present ‘anthem’ of irresponsible citizens. Nigeria has become a country where everybody is desirous of change but nobody wants to be responsible for that change.

The tragic end of Kodak is a pointer to the fact that change is an integral part of the evolution of any formidable venture. There are a lot of reasons why Kodak failed but refusing to adapt to the changing market and not being on the cutting edge of photo-technology is the prime reason. The great memories that Kodak represents will never be forgotten; the good old times when we reached for a camera to stop life for a second, to grab a memory. For decades, Kodak was the face of photography but it is sympathetic that for over 131-years when they held the world spell-bound through photography, the end of things has come for this great company that had filed for bankruptcy! Kodak was one of the most powerful companies in the world but its position has been given to another, such is the fate of any venture, individual or company that resists change. Digital photography took off and Kodak wasn’t ready for it. They could have been the industry leader into the digital age, but they did not want to be the ones to pull the lever to bring an end to the film. After more than a century of producing traditional film cameras, Kodak has lost its relevance because of its inability to take the lead in moving from producing traditional film cameras into digital technology. The Kodak tragedy begins and ends in its inability to move into the digital world, well enough, and fast enough. The argument was that Kodak was so addicted to films that it ignored the digital revolution. What Kodak despised, because of their assumption that its market is not yet ripe , today, the high-tech world is stampeding to get a piece of the action, calling digital imaging perhaps the greatest growth opportunity in the computer world.

Kodak’s estimate and presumptions were very wrong and Kodak was inevitably late to the game. By 2001, the market was crowded. Canon and Sony had already made huge leaps in the sector and this ultimately signalled Kodak’s doom! By the time Kodak decided to move from analog to digital, the digital market was already starting its decline. A new technology had emerged and Kodak fought to remain relevant but the battle had already been won by “change” gladiators. Selling off its camera unit, Kodak is now a shadow of itself. Kodak is today bankrupt because they were too comfortable with their success in the film industry to be open to the possibilities of digital photography for the future. While ‘change’ has brought so many companies to limelight, for Kodak, the inability to respond to change has brought its demise! People that will make maximum impact embrace change.

“Refusing to change makes you more qualified for a world that no longer exist”-Scott Mckain

Life is full of stories of people that brought unimaginable change in periods when their countries needed it the most. Henry Ford was the change that America needed at a critical point to develop the first automobile that the middle class Americans can afford to buy. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. His intense goal and commitment to systemically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations. The Ford’s dream: The creation of an inexpensive mass-produced automobile. Until then, the new horseless carriage had been an expensive luxury item, available only to the rich. But Ford determined to put the automobile within the reach of the common people. In 1907, Henry Ford announced his goal for the Ford motor company: to create “a motor car for the great multitude”. At that time, automobiles were very expensive, custom-made machines. During the industrial revolutions, cars were like buying a private jet today until Ford created the assembly line.

The patriotic and inspiring story of the evolution of Innoson Motors is a pointer to the fact that one man can make a big difference by being an agent of change. From the humble beginning as a spare-part trader to becoming the Chairman of IVM Innoson Group of Companies Limited, the rise and rise story of Innocent Chukwuma is so fascinating and has become a trail blazing story for the Nigerian youths. It is amazing how a man will ever consider investing in a terrain considered by professional analysts as a ‘mission impossible’. Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, was born in 1961 in Umudim, Nnewi,in Anambra State and popularly known as Innoson, is the Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) Co. Ltd, the first indigenous vehicle manufacturing plant in Nigeria. After his education, he started trading in spare parts under the name Innoson Nigeria Ltd in 1981. His burning passion to see Nigerians drive their own brand new cars has been a major drive for this change gladiator that has surmounted both local and international hurdles to bring Nigeria to the forefront of automobile revolution in Africa and beyond. In February 2007, Chukwuma incorporated Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited (IVM) to produce sundry commercial automobiles, utility vehicles and passenger cars; the vehicles in IVM fleet range from cars, trucks, SUVs, compactors, etc. According to him, his goal, apart from putting Nigeria on the map of vehicle manufacturing countries, is to stop Nigerians from buying fairly used vehicles, popularly known as Tokunbo, as is now the case.

Due to our demented and inferior taste for second hand cars, coupled with the fact that over 80 percent of Nigerians cannot afford brand new vehicles, Nigeria has now become a dumping ground and ‘waste basket’ for both developed and developing nations! Presently, the company has made in-road into some African countries such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Chad, Niger and Togo. Innoson Motors are built with the state of the roads in the country in mind and they are more rugged than the imported ones.

His success story has ensured employment for over 7,500 Nigerians who work in the company’s factory. Due to his outstanding contributions to the development of Nigeria, he has been given several awards locally, nationally and internationally. This include: Meritorious Award by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in 2008, Award of Excellence by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in October 2008, MANCAP Award of Excellence by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in 2008, National Honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in December 2008, prestigious National Honours of the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) in 2010, Distinguished Entrepreneurship Award for Indigenous Excellence in automobile Manufacturing by The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in 2010, National Honours of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) on November 2011, Special Presidential Merit Award (2011) by the Nigerian Society of Engineers. In February 2012, INNOSON Motors won the African Business Of The Year Award, at a ceremony held in London, conferred by the Commonwealth Business Council and African Business Magazine.

We need patriotic examples from the ’top’, I look forward to seeing President Muhammadu Buhari officially declaring Innoson Motors as Nigerian authentic brand; It will be a new way of branding the nation. Germany is synonymous with Mercedes, Volkswagen and BMW; United States of America is notable for Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet; United Kingdom is known for Rolls Royce; Sweden has Volvo as a national pride, while Peugeot is the brand associated with France. I am personally reaching out to patriotic Nigerians to support the Innoson Motors and make it our own national pride and brand. Annually, billions of naira and resources are used by government and individuals to import vehicles from foreign countries, these strange mentality and attitude will continually deplete our foreign exchange reserves and empower the down fall of the Nigerian naira against other foreign currencies. My candid advice to the Federal Government is to provide a conducive atmosphere for indigenous entrepreneurs to re-invest into the Nigerian economy. It is high time we revisited the Ajaokuta steel Company dilemma because we are losing so much forex to the importation of steel. I am excited about the perspective of the Honourable Minister for Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi, on the lingering resolutions and the need to clear all legal hurdles surrounding the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited for it to begin to function. Mr. Fayemi decried the trillions of naira spent annually on steel importation into the country and has assured to work assiduously to make the dream of Steel production in Nigeria a reality.



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