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Chukwuma: Support for made-in-Nigeria is support for country

Chukwuma: Support for made-in-Nigeria is support for country
Why were you given an award by the Nigerian Defence Academy?
The Nigerian Defence Academy honoured me with an award. When they invited me for the award, I couldn’t ascertain why they chose me, but when I got there, I realised that they wanted to honour me alongside a retired Major General and a retired professor, who did something for Nigeria. They told me they decided to give me the award, after I was recommended by the Nigeria Air Force, based on what I did sometime ago, when they had some problem. Some of their Jet fighter components had issues and I fabricated and provided the components. This, they said, qualified me for the award.

So, where do you want to go from there?
For me, it was an encouragement to do more. What this means is that some Nigerians are appreciating the little we are doing here, as local manufacturers. We depended on our local raw materials to manufacture some of the components they needed. So, for us, it is a good start and that we should do more.

Talking of homegrown products, how much patronage do you get, especially with the present recession?
Homemade products are for the benefit of every Nigerian. Looking at the economy, the problem we have is that we don’t have enough dollars to import everything we need. So, it is better for us to produce things by ourselves, so we’ll be able to move forward. Any Nigerian buying or patronising made-in-Nigeria products is supporting the country, because importing everything we need is bad. We don’t have the resources to be importing all the time. This does not, however, mean we should not import, but a country should not make importation its hallmark.

We have some made in Nigerian vehicles, whose engines are imported. Those vehicles have local inputs and when we continue that way, it will help grow our economy. Concentrating on locally made products can solve our problems. So, my advice is that we keep encouraging made-in-Nigeria products. People frequently come to our company to buy automobile, our plastics and even tyres, and they have attested that they are good.

Is it easy for local manufacturers to access funds?
As a businessman, I started this Plastics factory with loan from Bank of Industry. I have always sourced loan from the Bank of Industry with ease. The first loan I got from them was a bit difficult, probably because they didn’t know me then, but when I repaid according to our agreement, that paved way for confidence and anytime I need loan now, they give it to me easily, because they know I’ll repay it. I don’t think the Bank of Industry has said it doesn’t have money for our local industries, which might need them. From my own personal experience with them, you don’t need to know anybody in their office for you to get what you are looking for.

So, I would encourage our people to invest and use the bank to sustain the venture.

How have you coped with such regulatory agencies as Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), among others?
These are government agencies established because there should be order in the manufacturing and production sectors, among others. They have always set out their rules and regulations. So, what we do is to ensure that we meet with these rules and standard. We don’t cut corners, and you discover that by doing this, people patronise us more and even help advertise our products to the world. If your product is poorly done, nobody will patronise you.

Regarding tax, it is a normal thing that once you’re in business, you must pay it. I have enjoyed tax exemption from the Federal Government, especially at the start of my business. I think for the starters, you need to apply for tax holiday and they will give you. You can also inform them, when they are over billing you and they will listen.

So, I don’t think tax is a problem, because there have been instances, when I applied and I’m still enjoying what they approved.

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