- Nigeria auto makers to supply jets fighting Boko Haram
- Partnership with Nigerian Air Force is good for business amid wave of patriotism
(CNN)The grinding conflict between the Nigerian state and Boko Haram insurgents has exacted a devastating human and economic toll over the past six years.
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.
"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."
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.