The founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd (IVM), Innocent Chukwuma, has revealed his plans to boost export in coming years and to see Innoson Vehicles everywhere in Africa.
He spoke during media chat with select journalists in Nnewi, the commercial hub of Anambra State.
He said that Innoson Vehicles were not made to be patronised only by government establishment, but all Nigerians.
Speaking further, Chukwuma thanked former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi for supporting his automobile manufacturing company from the beginning, saying; “It is manufactured in Nigeria. Let us see it as our own and be proud of it anywhere it is seen in the world. I want to appreciate Mr Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra for the support and patronage when I started.
“Peter Obi gave me much encouragement when I started. When I started, he ordered 500 units of buses to be supplied to schools and he paid me in advance. Paying me in advance helped a lot because, at that time, I just started the business.”
Commenting on the administration of the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano, he also hailed the governor for supporting businesses in Nnewi by connecting them to the national grid.
“Today, Governor Obiano made sure that factories in Nnewi and other industrial towns have a special line from the national grid. He paid for it and it is very costly. It is an industrial line only for industries. The governor sponsored it for the sake of all the industries in Anambra State,” he explained.
On the challenges he has encountered in business over the years, Chukwuma said: “Challenges can never stop; people will always have challenges day by day, but the most important thing is that each time it comes up, we put heads together and surmount it. I don’t think there is a challenge we will see and not surmount.”
On the just-concluded Anambra governorship election, the auto maker said having Professor Charles Soludo as governor-elect is a blessing to the state even as he thanked the people of the state for supporting the economist to emerge governor of the state.
He also revealed that currently his company has about 7,300 workforce.
Speaking on his company’s protracted dispute with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), he said that he may take over ownership of the bank if the bank fails to pay him money owed his company with the accruing interest.
He revealed that cumulative interest on the money is now at 22% and that when the interest is above the bank’s capacity, he will take over ownership of the bank.
Chukuma said he has been one of the bank’s best customers. “When the former MD Tayo Adenirokun was alive, I was their number one customer in the South-East. Because of me, they opened a branch in Nnewi.”
The auto manufacturer revealed that despite being the bank’s best customer in the South-East, they started fighting him, which he don’t know whether it was influenced by tribal sentiments, adding, however, that he had proved them wrong always.
He said that he has defeated GTB in all the courts that they have gone to, hence it was left for the bank to pay him what they are owing him.
“We have gone up to the Supreme Court, but they haven’t paid. I don’t know if they want Nigeria to change its law because of them. But the beauty of it all is that the monies has attracted interest of 22 per cent for 11 years now since 2010. So I’m waiting for the interest to be above their capacity so that I will take over the bank. I’m not disturbing them anymore,” he added.
He assured all the customers of the bank that if he takes over, he would still run it well, or even better than the present management, adding that he has never done any business that failed.