By Jonathan Ugbal
The commander of the vehicle inspection officers for Cross River and Akwa Ibom States, Mr. Paul Bepeh has said that the decision of VIO commanders across Nigeria to induct the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), Chief Innocent Chukwuma as a Road Traffic Mayor was based on the fact that they were satisfied that he had met international standards.
Mr. Bepeh told CrossRiverWatch in an interview on Thursday in Nnewi, Anambra State that the endorsement and certification of the reliability of vehicles produced by IVM was done after an assessment tour of the manufacturing plant, service center and training academy by the road services forum.
“We got wind of the fact that there is a company that is manufacturing vehicles in Nigeria, so we as Vehicle Inspection Officers, we have to come and see the vehicles they are manufacturing and see if they are following international best practices,” Bepeh said, adding that: “We are satisfied and that is why we have given him a special road traffic mayor induction as road traffic services forum.”
On the expectations from Mr. Innocent after his induction, Mr. Bepeh averred that: “A job well done means more work. We are encouraging him to do more work. We are encouraging all road users that Innoson Vehicles are reliable, we have seen it, we have tested it, we are professionals and we are campaigning for all Nigerians that we don’t need to go far to import any used or refurbished vehicle; instead of used or refurbished vehicles, you should go for cha cha (new ones).”
Earlier, during the induction, Mr. Bepeh had stressed the need for governments at all levels to switch from the importation of refurbished and used vehicles and patronise the IVM brand of vehicles which have been certified by the professionals.
The Director of the Transport Company of Anambra State and General Supervisor of the VIO, Mr. Ralph Okoye who represented Governor Willie Obiano in his remarks commended the strides made by Mr. Innocent and wondered why governments at all levels across the country were yet to support the brand.
Okoye averred that: “If it was possible to empower myself, there will be no vehicle importation again in this country. If we are really honest with ourselves, to be an ordinary business man doing buying and selling is one thing, to be an industrialist, manufacturer is a totally different thing. What he is doing is just like using one’s hand to break stones. No support from anywhere, because as far as I am concerned, take this message home, the federal government and all the states should endorse Innoson as their official car.
“If we don’t patronize our own, what patriotism are we going to be talking about?” Okoye, who also doubles as the aide to Governor Obiano on public transport queried.
He said Mr. Innocent survived the rigorous path he followed because he was, “able to muscle it. A lot of other people will get the license, but when they look at the terrain, they will turn back. The only way to get Nigeria functioning is with people like him. They are the employers of labor; they are the people that determine what the economy will be.”
Mr. Okoye who posited that, “America is great because the economy of America is run by the private sector,” said it was an honor to be with Mr. Innocent as they could see firsthand, all they heard and viewed in televisions and called on Nigerians to patronize the IVM brand.
“It will interest you to know that some African countries use his vehicle as official vehicles yet we are crying unemployment. We have people that are ready to create jobs for those who are ready for the jobs,” Okoye said and expressed optimism that better days awaited the company and Nigerians.
Responding, Mr. Innocent expressed gratitude to the safety officials for their certification and honor. He promised to work assiduously to ensure that Nigerians have an affordable vehicle.
“I feel happy having understood that road traffic officers having inspected my vehicles, proved to me that they are satisfied and happy,” Mr. Innocent told CrossRiverWatch.
He continued: “I am going to make a car that Nigerians especially civil servants will be able to afford; they will compare the price to tokunbo (used vehicles), I will produce an automatic vehicle between NGN2.5 and NGN2.6 million that every Nigerian will be able to drive and afford because there is need to localize production and provide jobs.”
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