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It was excitement galore at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) yesterday as the institution’s Engineering Faculty successfully unveiled its first five-seater electric car.Christened Lion Ozumba 551, the car, made with 80 per cent locally-sourced materials, could undertake a 30-kilometer distance when fully charged.

Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Charles Igwe, said the car was part of the drive to accord innovation and technology the highest attention to reposition the institution for greater heights.He commended the immediate past Vice Chancellor, Professor Benjamin Ozumba, who he said laid the foundation for innovation and technology upon which the car dream was realised.

“I feel happy that I inherited a strong institution from Ozumba and I promise to consolidate on his achievements,” he said.Director-general, National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Mr. Jelani Aliyu, also commended the university for the stride, urging other institutions in the country to give priority to technology and innovation.

He disclosed that the council had on February 6, 2019 invited UNN, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Usman Danfolio University, Sokoto (UDUSOK) and the Metrological Institute to make proposals on how to produce electric cars in the country, adding that he was elated that it had become reality.

Aliyu, who was represented by Director of Finance and Accounts, David Oyetunji, said improving on the automobile industry in the country would help create more employment and reduce huge amount of money used in importing cars into the country.He also commended UNN for the recent production of the gasification plant that uses organic waste to generate electricity.

Responding, Ozumba said he was overwhelmed when he was invited to witness the unveiling of the electric car, which was initiated by his administration.“When I came on board, I said we need innovation and technology to be at par with China, United States, Sweden and other developed countries of the world.

“That was why I provided the resources and encouragement for innovation and technology, because I believe that is one of the ways we can improve our country’s economy. “It was part of my desire to improve UNN’s and Nigeria’s economy and boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings,” he said.

Earlier, coordinator of UNN Medtronic team that produced the car, Ozoemena Ani, affirmed that it was produced with 80 per cent local materials, adding that it would go 30 kilometres when fully charged.

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