For more than 11 years, Adetokunbo Ogundeyin has silently pioneered Nigeria’s armoured vehicles industry. He has been using his company, ProforceDefence Limited, to manufacture high-tech armoured vehicles and body armour to help combat insecurity in the country. His products are not only considered good enough for use by government agencies, financial institutions, corporate organizations and diplomatic missions in Nigeria, they are also good enough for export to other African countries, thereby signaling the country’s emergence as a security powerhouse on the continent.
The alarming rate of insecurity in Nigeria has brought about a compelling need for individuals, organizations and governments at all levels to pay more attention to the issue of security than they hitherto did. The high-profile killings, kidnappings, robberies and all manner of armed banditry that occur in the country virtually on a daily basis have brought to the fore the fact that nobody is safe. And in the near absence of state-guaranteed security, self-help has become the only assurance of security.
Every problem has a solution. The increasing rate of insecurity in the country has tasked the ingenuity of Nigerians to find solutions to it, one way or the other – legitimately. One of such Nigerians who have risen to the demand for solutions to the seemingly intractable insecurity in the country is Adetokunbo Ogundeyin, founder of ProforceDefence Limited who is also the company’s group managing director.
The company is Nigeria’s foremost defence solutions provider that specializes in the manufacture of armoured vehicles and body armour for government agencies, corporate organizations, the diplomatic community, as well as politically and economically exposed individuals who may have need for high level security.
You may not be very familiar with the name, Ogundeyin, because it is not one that rings a bell in the country. But you may be familiar with his products, even if you would not link them to him. When you see police armoured personnel carriers parked at strategic corners in cities across the country, especially state capitals as part of security measures, or deployed by the police at scenes of riots, chances are that you have seen Ogundeyin’s contribution to checking insecurity in the country.
When you see police-escorted armoured bullion vans convey money at breakneck speed from one location to another in any part of the country, you may be looking at Ogundeyin’s product. You may not be able to identify an armoured sports utility vehicle or saloon cars among the numerous ones that glide past on the streets. But some may be from the stable of Ogundeyin’sProforce.
Ogundeyin is doing what was hitherto considered farfetched in this part of the world – a clear proof that Nigeria has what it takes to rank with the rest of the world in technology.
From the manufacturing plants of Proforce come the following high profile security vehicles:
- Armoured personnel carriers (APCs)
- Armoured tanks
- Armoured SUVs
- Armoured cash-in-transit vehicles (CITs)
- Tactical armoured vehicles (TAVs)
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV-drones)
- Armoured saloons and sedans
- Bulletproof helmets and vests
- Military trucks
- Infantry combat vehicles (ICVs)
- Armoured boots and marine vessels
- Architectural armouring (safe house/rooms for banks and embassies)
It is proof of the quality of armoured vehicles manufactured by Proforce that they are found suitable for use by institutions with sensitive businesses, like banks and diplomatic missions. The quality of those products must meet international standards to be used by those institutions, especially foreign missions that have no obligations to use Nigerian-made products.
Product with selected clients
What would probably surprise most Nigerians is that Proforce has been in existence since 2008, but has remained relatively unknown, probably due to the sensitive nature of its business, and the fact that its products are not sold in the open market to everybody, or taken off the shelf. They are strictly by order.
The company does not produce consumer goods, and is therefore not a mass market producer. Only its patrons know about its existence. As Ogundeyin himself said, the company does not go to its clients. Its clients come to it. It’s another way of saying that when a company has a product that is meant for a certain category of people, those who need it would locate it, in the same manner a sweet-smelling flower attracts butterflies from far and near to its nectar.
In the past 11 years, Proforce has been churning out top-of-the-range armoured vehicles and equipment that satisfy the security needs of individuals and organizations on their clients list.
It speaks volumes about the company’s competence and expertise that even without meeting local needs, it has spread its tentacles to other parts of Africa supplying its products to countries like Rwanda, Central African Republic and South Sudan. This has undoubtedly placed Nigeria on the international map of countries with capability to produce armoured vehicles that meet international standards.
The growing security challenge in the country means that Proforce’s ability to meet local demands is going to be almost always stretched to its limits. From its main factory in Ogun State, the company produces an average of 40 security vehicles per month and about 480 annually. Its second production facility in Port Harcourt produces 15 vehicles per month. A third factory is coming up in Abuja. The company is collaborating with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DIC) to produce 20 vehicles monthly from its fourth facility in Katsina. At the rate Proforce is going, the country may have no need to import security vehicles the company can produce.
Partnership with Nigerian armed forces
Ogundeyin is an invaluable partner to the armed forces of Nigeria. Recently, students of the Nigerian Defence Academy comprising high ranking officers up to colonels and their equivalent in the other forces visited his company’s factory at Ode-Remo to have first-hand knowledge of what he is doing. The visit afforded him opportunity to interact with members of the armed forces and exchange ideas on how to improve the nation’s security capabilities in the area of military vehicles.
For instance, from the interactions, he learnt that due to the high temperature in the north eastern part of Nigeria, imported APCs used in the area tend to face the problem of overheating, with adverse effect on the tires. He has incorporated such suggestions into the operations of Proforce, such that the company is able to produce APCs that can be described as truly Nigerian, able to withstand conditions in any part of the country.
The company has acquired a steel plant in the Sango area of Ogun State for the production of its own steel, the most important requirement in the manufacture of its products. It has also entered into an arrangement with a glass manufacturing company for the production of bullet-proof glass. The company would have been able to meet up to 80 per cent technology requirements locally, by the time it produces its own steel and glass.
However, despite the effort to produce wholly made-in-Nigeria vehicles, Ogundeyin does not lose sight of the need to produce vehicles that meet international standards in every department. He still finds it necessary to tap the technological know-how of foreign partners in areas for which he does not have local solutions.
His company, Proforce, works with experts in such countries like the United States, Israel and South Africa. The company is partnering a French company called Nexter, which produces blast resistant seats for armoured vehicles. Such seats absorb the pressure from a blast in such a manner as not to damage the spinal cord of the person sitting on the seats of an armoured vehicle.
Forced technology transfer
Ogundeyin’s ability to produce high-tech armoured vehicles in Nigeria did not come easily. At the inception of Proforce, the company had 25 expatriates in its workforce. He had hoped to benefit from technology transfer from those expatriates. But his expectations were dashed when he soon realized they were not keen on making his dream come to pass.
They told him pointedly that technology transfer was not possible for the simple reason that Proforce is a Nigerian company. In order to ensure Nigerians did not know much about the critical aspects of the company’s operations, they ensured they (Nigerians) did not handle intricate jobs. But Ogundeyin would have none of that. He got the company to acquire the technology anyway, by force. This was possible with the support of the government.
The company was able to weather the storm and get over its teething problems to be able to produce vehicles that can stand the test of time. Now, there are only three expatriates in the company’s payroll. That’s a testimony to the resilience of the average Nigerian when faced with existential challenges.
It is proof of the technological capabilities of Proforce that it does not only build armoured vehicles, it can also armour normal vehicles. This process involves stripping a vehicle down to the carcass. Each part of the vehicle is then lined with ballistic steel, while the windows and windscreens are replaced with bulletproof glass. Sensitive components like battery, radiator, electronic computer unit and fuel tank are heavily protected.
The vehicle’s tires are fitted with what is called ‘run flat’ inserts that are made from composite materials that give the tires the capability to carry the vehicle out of danger for more than 50 kilometers at about 70 kilometers per hour after being shot at.
The additional weight caused by armouring puts an extra burden on the vehicle’s shock absorbers. This problem is taken care of by replacing the original shock absorbers with heavy duty ones that can carry the new weight of the vehicle.
Conserving scarce foreign exchange
It goes without saying that Proforce is helping to save foreign exchange by producing vehicles the country has been importing. Ogundeyin puts the cost of importing armoured vehicles into the country conservatively at $50 million annually.
“When you talk about armoured vehicles in Nigeria, we’re not talking only about the individual; we’re talking about the military, about the police and the paramilitary”, he told The Nation. “You are talking about a business that is worth close to, I would say, about $50 million to $60 million in Nigeria alone. Don’t forget that all these vehicles need to be maintained. We’re not just talking about importing of armoured vehicles; we’re talking of after sales. Even when you look at the number of individuals that import armoured vehicles into Nigeria in a year, it would be up to 1,000”.
This figure, he said, does not include armoured vehicles imported into the country by quasi-government agencies and parastatals. “By importing all these cars into Nigeria, a lot of foreign exchange is being wasted; job opportunities that should have been created for Nigerians are not being created because job opportunities are now being exported”.
The value Proforce is adding to national life is not limited to production of security vehicles and equipment. It is also providing jobs, thereby contributing to the effort to raise standard of living for a good number of Nigerians. The company has provided direct jobs to over 2,000 people and another 5,000, indirectly.
Worthy of mention is the fact that the company is using local materials for its products, in compliance with the local content policy of the federal government. The initiative is aimed at saving scarce foreign exchange an also improving the country’s export potential.
Who is Ogundeyin?
Ogundeyin is an entrepreneur with fingers in many pies. He is also an administrator and philanthropist. He is the group managing director of O’laKleen Holdings Limited, the umbrella organization that has seven companies under its wings, namely, O’laKleen Nigeria Limited, ProforceDefence Products Limited, OLK Construction and Sun Metals. Others are Vaults and Gardens, Deto Shipyards and WMO Gadgets.
Of all his companies, O’laKleen Nigeria Limited, which is into cleaning services, is the one that is well known. The company handles cleaning services for most financial institutions and other corporate organizations in Lagos and some states in the South West. Bank customers in Lagos are familiar with the sight of male and female cleaners in dark blue overall with O’laKleen boldly inscribed on the back.
Such is the company’s expertise in the provision of cleaning services that it has extended its frontiers to other parts of the world, providing excellent services in Ghana, Liberia, Kuwait, China and the United States.
OLK Construction Limited is a key player in the construction and building materials market in Nigeria, while Vaults and Gardens Limited is an ultra-modern private cemetery that provides a befitting place for the rich to rest in peace. Sun Metal Industries Limited, the newest addition to the O’laKleen Group, specializes in manufacture and sale of iron rods, aluminum ingots, copper wire and steel.
Ogundeyin graduated from the University of Lagos with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He joined West African Portland Cement (now Lafarge Cement WAPCO Plc) as a production engineer, before leaving to set up O’laKleen Nigeria Limited in 1986.
His experience covers project management, systems design and resource allocation, in which position he ensured projects were executed and delivered within timelines and on agreed budgets.
Ogundeyin has attended several courses and trainings within and outside the country. He has received several awards as a successful entrepreneur and an administrator. He is married with children.