TBY talks to Ade Ogundeyin, CEO of Proforce Defence Limited, on the company's achievements in manufacturing defense vehicles, its staffing solutions, and its work to modernize the Nigerian armed forces.

Ade Ogundeyin
Ade 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 an 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.

What have been the main achievements of the company since 2008?

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 of 19 tons each. In the area of ammunitions, we partner 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.

How would you describe the 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. We have another facility that we are putting together in Abuja and another in Katsina with which we are collaborating with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria to produce about 20 vehicles per month.

How do you train and retain your staff and foster innovation?

We send some of our staff abroad for training. We have a challenge with human capital but all we need to do is continue to change hands until we get the right set of people. Expatriates should not be the solution because after having them for two years they typically want to leave. Also, if a company pays salaries 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 continue to invest a certain percentage of our profits every year in R&D.

How does Proforce Defence contribute 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 have regular interactions and incorporate a number of the things from their own practical experience. For example, the Nigerian armed forces are at risk of overheating due to the high temperatures in the north east; APCs from abroad sometimes 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.

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

The business environment in Nigeria is encouraging. Sometimes what we 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. Nigeria is a secure country. Of course, there are some parts that are not safe; however, on the whole, it is the place to be because there are many opportunities in Nigeria. It is our job to make sure that security is not an issue.