Nigeria’s Innoson now makes fighter jet parts.
Nigeria’s first car maker takes to the skies in fighter jets
The grinding conflict between the Nigerian state and Boko Haram insurgents has exacted a devastating human and economic toll over the past six years.
Photo: Innoson has signed an agreement to supply the Nigerian Air Force with spare parts for Alpha fighters.
But for Nigeria’s first car manufacturer, the crisis may represent an opportunity.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) recently announced a partnership deal with Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), which will see the company supply spare parts for jets conducting airstrikes against the insurgents.
Photo: Innoson staff meeting with Nigerian Air Force pilots at Enugu Air Base. Collaboration is likely to expand beyond the current deal.
“The ingenious effort by IVM is instrumental to the continued operation of the Alpha Jets,” NAF spokesperson Ayodele Famuyiwa said of the deal. “IVM helped to save the day when help was not forthcoming from abroad.”
Photo: Innoson motor manufacturing plant at Nnewi in Anambra state. The company employs over 7000 people and has capacity to produce 10,000 vehicles a year.
Friends in high places
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,” says Innoson spokesperson Cornel Osigwe. “They saw we had the capacity.”
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.