Aug. 24, 2016


Ade Ogundeyin

Nigeria

Ade Ogundeyin

CEO, Proforce Defence Limited

"The business environment in Nigeria is encouraging. Sometimes what you see and read on the news is only one side of the coin."

BIO

Adetokunbo Ogundeyin holds a BSc from the University of Lagos. He is the Group Managing Director of O’la-Kleen Holdings Limited, a conglomerate in Nigeria with international presence in the US, Kuwait, China, Ghana, and Liberia. In his pursuit of the company’s corporate vision for sustainable national and global presence, O’la Kleen Holdings Limited has over the last 25 years diversified with the establishment of several other companies, including Proforce Defence Limited.

Since 2008, what have been the main achievements of the company?

Proforce was established in 2008 as a defense solutions provider. It has grown from strength to strength and we have continuously collaborated with the public sector as our main client. We have been able to export our services to other governments such as Rwanda, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Our vehicles are of international standard, and we have a wide range of armored vehicles. One of our strengths is our partnership with experts all over the world in Israel, South Africa, and the US. With all this knowledge we built our own facility in Nigeria to produce armored personnel carriers and other military-grade apparatus. We recently signed an MoU with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria to start producing fighter jets, warships, drones, armored aerial vehicles, and mine resistant ambush personnel carriers, too. We started with mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, which have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 19 tons each. In the area of ammunitions, we are partnering with companies from South Africa to assemble those ones in Nigeria, too. President Muhammadu Buhari wants the military industry to take off immediately; hence, Proforce is partnering with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria to push that forward.

What would you say have been the main factors behind your rapid growth?

There is insecurity all over the world, not only in Nigeria, and our role is to make this country a safer place. In Nigeria, there is the Niger Delta Avengers group that has recently come up, Boko Haram, and other militant groups that are forming. Our country, as any other, needs to have a strong military manufacturing base to ensure a safe environment for its people.

How would you describe Proforce Defense manufacturing facilities?

We have a facility where we build armored personnel carriers (APCs) in Ogun State, and we produce about 40 vehicles per month or a total of around 480 vehicles a year. A second facility in Port Harcourt produces about 15 vehicles per month. Then, we have another facility that we are putting together in Abuja and we have another one in Katsina with which we are collaborating with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria to produce about 20 vehicles per month.

All of your manufacturing is done in Nigeria. What role are you playing in supporting the local content development strategy of the federal government?

There is no doubt we are adding value. We have done a lot of backward integration, for example, acquiring a steel rolling mill, and we provide jobs to over 2,000 people directly and around 5,000 indirectly. When you look at our group we have a direct workforce of about 8,000. The government is encouraging us to use materials that are made in Nigeria and integrate backward and improve the foreign exchange aspect.

How do you train and keep you human resources skill base high and foster innovation?

We send some of our staff abroad for training. We have a challenge with human capital but all you need to do is keep on changing hands until you get the right set of people. Expatriates should not be the solution because after having them for two years they may want to go. Also, if you are paying in dollars the cost compared to our Nigerian workforce is high. Instead, we prefer to train Nigerians well and bring down costs. In terms of R&D, this is the backbone of the company. We have an R&D unit and that is completely devoted to innovation. For example, we looked at new designs for APCs and we keep on investing a certain percentage of our profit every year in R&D.

How is Proforce Defence contributing to the modernization of Nigeria's armed forces?

We are a versatile company and have worked hard to include the armed forces of Nigeria in the majority of the things we do. We interact regularly; for example, recently a lot of students from the Nigeria Defence Academy made up of colonels and other ranks came to the facility and we exchanged ideas. We incorporate a number of the things from their own practical experiences, because if you do not listen to their experience, you cannot bring in an APC from a different country and expects it to serve the forces and their environment. For example, Nigerian armed forces are at risk of overheating due to the high temperature in the northeast; APCs from abroad cannot cope with the heat and run into problems with their tires. We have been able to incorporate solutions to these challenges into our own vehicles and come up with a truly Nigerian vehicle.

You have partners all over the world. What do you look for in a partner?

There is a specific company in France that we are partnering with called Nexter, which produces blast-resistant seats. Blast-resistant seats absorb the force pressure of a blast in such a way that it will not destroy the backbone of the person sitting on the seat. This is a perfect example of the innovation and developments that we can incorporate in our vehicles.

How would you describe the business environment for international investors looking to come to Nigeria?

The business environment in Nigeria is encouraging. Sometimes what you see and read on the news is only one side of the coin. Most Nigerians understand that the news from this country is often bad news and the opportunities and advantages are never publicized. From my point of view, Nigeria is a very secure country. Of course, there are some parts that are not safe, but on a whole, when you look at the whole 923,768sqkm of Nigeria, it's the place to be. It is our job to make sure that security is not an issue.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

Since we have signed an MoU with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria we want to see Nigeria producing fighter jets, drones, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). We want to see a country that is safe but that at the same time has a well-equipped military in place for when the inevitable happens. We want a peaceful country; that is what we look forward to.