The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has announced a partnership deal with Nigeria’s first car maker, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing(IVM), which will see the company supply spare parts for jets conducting airstrikes against members of Boko Haram.
“The ingenious effort by IVM is instrumental to the continued operation of the Alpha Jets. IVM helped to save the day when help was not forthcoming from abroad,” CNN quoted NAF spokesperson Ayodele Famuyiwa.
It reported that the air force reached out to Innoson in 2015, as it faced increasing difficulty with the import of vital parts such as brake pads.
The deal was struck after a series of site visits around the country.
“The army came to our factories in many states. They saw we had the capacity, Innoson spokesperson Cornel Osigwe also told CNN.
IVM, part of the Innoson Group owned by billionaire Innocent Chukwuma, started producing commercial vehicles such as coaches in 2007, before launching a range of private cars in 2014 — the first to carry a “Made in Nigeria” seal.
The offshoot company now employs over 7,000 people and has capacity to produce 10,000 cars a year. It is hoped that the partnership with NAF could help the business expand further.
“The attention is providing a big boost for the company,” says Osigwe.
Innoson has gained several new clients since the deal, according to the spokesperson, including the National Assembly. Leading politicians such as Senator Ben Murray-Bruce have offered strong support.
Osigwe hopes that high profile supporters will help the company make inroads with the wider public.
“If the government patronize Innoson, individuals and companies will follow,” he says.