Govt Should Patronise Domestic Entrepreneurs – Okpala | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Govt Should Patronise Domestic Entrepreneurs – Okpala

Posted: Sep 18, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Engr. Jude Okpala is the managing director and chief executive officer of Cliché Nigeria Limited, a precision engineering company that is based in Lagos. In this interview with Ikechi Nzeako, he says his company has developed the capacity to manufacture metal components that companies can use in their production processes and thus save scarce foreign exchange for the country. Excerpts:

What does your company do?

We do metal components production. We do mould to finishing of metal components. The company is moulded after the input providers that you find in Southeast Asia. Most of Nigerian companies go to China, Singapore, India, Indonesia and others to buy moulds or metal components that they use in their production processes. We are moulded after such companies and expect that Nigerian government, its agencies and private companies and individuals should come to us so that we will provide the metal components they need in their production activities.

How long have you been in this production?

We have been at the Technology Incubation Centre for few years and we have a set up where we can go from the design of a metal component to mould making and to mass production. It is either a client brings a sample and we do copy production or the customer brings a design that we feed into the computer and simulate to do the mould and do the final finishing and that has taken us almost ten years to get to where we are now.

What impact has Cliché Limited made; I mean what success has the company recorded?

We have recorded a huge success in developing the idea. What that means is that in the last ten years, we have developed the capacity to solve problems for Nigerian manufacturing companies, government and its agencies in terms of manufacturing their mental components and moulds which they use in their production processes. For example, we have developed the capacity to produce the metal accessories that can be used by the Nigerian military and paramilitary forces. We manufacture uniform accessories that can be used by the military and paramilitary. The President said his government is planning to recruit 40,000 policemen and women; if it is a country where things work well, this should be good business for us. We also make other metals that can be used by the Central Bank of Nigeria and state governments. We also make metals that can be used to grade Cocoa. We also make seals that can be used to seal our bonds. We also produce seals that can be used to secure munitions and metal components that can be used in manufacturing of small arms. However, the problem is that we do not get the right exposure and protection. Nigerian government and companies prefer to go abroad and bring in these things. Meanwhile, we have developed the capacity to produce them here. If given the opportunity, we have what it takes to produce these components for them.

Have you made any attempt to talk to government in terms of patronage?

We are located at the Technology Incubation Centre so that we can take advantage that it provides to access government officials. The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology has visited us and it was part of the engagement process. The question is: will the government listen? We hope that the government will listen and do the needful.

Are you saying that Nigerians should patronise Nigerian entrepreneurs and that it should start from the top?

Yes, for Nigerian entrepreneurs to grow there has to be some level of protection. India and China will not allow you bring in anything but Nigeria signed the WTO agreement that opened our economy to all sorts of imports and that should not be the case. The federal government can begin by compelling all its agencies to source their requirements from local manufacturers. That will help us and we will employ more people and capacity will grow.

How has it been in the area of funding?

We need funding. We benefited from the NEFUND. The problem is the fund is structured in a way that it provides fund for part of your machinery. It does not provide fund for your working capital to be able to buy raw materials and overheads. The interest on lending by commercial banks is too high for small business people.