Aba – The recent decision by the board and management of Aba Power Limited, Nigeria’s newest electricity distribution firm, to patronise only Innoson vehicles is informed by not only patriotism but also the technical and cost competitiveness of the products, according to the managing director of the company, Patrick Umeh.

Umeh, the utility boss who used to be the commissioner in charge of markets, market rates and competition at the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), disclosed to newsmen in Aba, on Tuesday, after taking delivery of 25 brand new Innoson mini buses and six pick-up trucks to enhance the field operations of the power company’s staff, that Aba Power “has been using Innoson vehicles and we are satisfied with the performance.

“Even before we began operations last year at Aba Power, a member of the Geometric Power group founded and chaired by Professor Bart Nnaji, a former Minister of Power who has also been the Minister of Science and Technology, we were instructed to give priority attention to Nigerian-made products and services which meet our standards”. Nnaji was one of the leading scientists and engineers in the world before he left the United States for Nigeria in 2004 to help revolutionize the country’s ailing power sector.

Umeh, a former executive with the Los Angeles Water and Power Corporation in California, United States, revealed that Aba Power last year acquired the latest model of Innoson’s pick-up van, saying it competes effectively with the Toyota Hilux brand in its fleet.“We were thus encouraged to purchase an Innoson passenger bus that sits 18 persons comfortably for our staff, and its performance is no less impressive”.

Aba Power placed an order for 81 Innoson mini buses and pick-up vans last month, and yesterday took delivery of 31.

Umeh described the prices of the local vehicles as quite competitive, too, calling it “good news in these economically trying times in the country. “We plan to increase Innoson vehicles in our fleet soon”.

Umeh also disclosed that Aba Power has, in line with Professor Nnaji’s vision, been buying locally manufactured cables and wires, including the ones used in the new 1,500-kilometre overhead wires in nine of the 17 local government areas of Abia State serviced by Aba Power to boost electricity supply in the ring-fenced area.“We sourced the wires”, he said, “from manufacturers like Cutix in Newi, Anambra State, which is a publicly-traded company, and other producers like the ones in Ibadan in Oyo State, and in Arepo, Ogun State.“Their wires and cables are among the best anywhere in the world, and Nigerian people and businesses easily attest to this fact”.

The Aba Power MD acknowledged that patriotism and nationalism drive his company’s massive patronage of Nigerian goods and services.Noting that it is rare to find American government officials drive foreign auto brands, including those manufactured or assembled in the United States, Umeh pointed out that the same applies to government officials in places like Germany, the United Kingdom, India, Japan, South Korea, France, and China.

“Even when Indian and Chinese vehicles were not competing effectively with foreign brands regarding technical quality and aesthetics, their government leaders insisted on driving them and made visiting foreign dignitaries ride in them.“What does that tell you? Charity starts at home because patriotic acts like this provide jobs for your people, create immense business opportunities, transfer technology, and conserve foreign exchange”.

The utility leader remarked that massive domestic support for Chinese auto manufacturers enabled China to become within a short period the world’s biggest auto market.He added: “Chinese auto firms like BYD (Build Your Dream) are now leading global vehicle producers and the greatest manufacturers of electricity vehicles as well as batteries which power electricity vehicles.“This is an important lesson to all Nigerians who want our country’s economy to grow rapidly”.

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