Though a music producer and promoter behind such music stars as Buga, Mr. Jejelaiyegba among others. Ahmed Ogunbanwo, who is a European trained IT expert and CEO of True Talent African Records based in Nigeria and Europe ,is a car freak, who is not auto crazy. In this close encounter with Motoring World’s Senior Correspondent, ROTIMI ASHER, at his production studio in the heart of Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, Ahmed revealed what a car means to him and his life on wheel for the past 15 years.
MW : Being music promoter and producer, we understand you have been behind the likes of Buga, Mr. Jejelayegba among others, would you consider yourself as being rich?
AHMED: Not really, but I have reasons to thank God
MW: I assume what you implied with that prayer is that you are not poor. Nigeria is a nation of car lovers and freaks. Would you say you are one?
AHMED: Of course, yes.
MW: What does a car mean to you then?
AHMED: It means a lot to me, very vital to running my business.
MW: Are you passionate about cars?.
AHMED: I am.
MW: That’s interesting. I know some car freaks treat their cars like a baby. How do you demonstrate your love towards your car then?
AHMED: I treat my car specially, but not like a baby. When anything happens to my car, I make sure I fix it immediately. Though I’m not wealthy enough to cruise around with cars painted with colour that matches my dress always, I make sure my car is always in good order no matter what.
MW: What car do you own at the moment?
AHMED: Mazda 6.
MW: Is that your dream or preferred car?
AHMED: I prefer sports cars and convertibles
MW: Why convertibles?
AHMED: They are posh and sleek, nice for weekend outings. If I have to go out on weekends, I enjoy it in convertibles.
MW: For how long have you been driving and could you recall your very firsts car?
AHMED: I have been a licensed driver for over fifteen years and my very first car was a sport car, Honda prelude.
MW: Assuming you have to travel to outer space and over there you will be able to drive, which car will you choose and why?
AHMED: Toyota. Toyota is known for reliability . I know you’d wonder why my car at the moment is a Mazda 6.
MW: I was going to ask you that
AHMED: My fourth car was a Toyota Landcruiser. Yes, most of the time I came home from Europe, that was always on ground for me to use. It had an accident. I did not drive it but my brother and he had an accident with it.
MW: Why did you choose Toyota Landcruiser that time?
AHMED: Actually I sent money to my brother that time to buy me an SUV. I think he bought a Jeep. When it was being tested along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, it disappointed. So I was advised to add to the money I earlier sent, which was used to buy a nice Toyota Landcruiser.
MW: Assuming Toyota is not available, what next?
AHMED: I will rather go for Mazda. If anything goes wrong with it, at least I will know what to do, because I am used to it.
MW: What other things do you do while driving?
AHMED: I like listening to music.
MW: What kind of music do you play while driving?
MW: Why Highlife?
AHMED: I like highlife music. And that is what I promote basically, That is what I listen to most of the time.
MW: Have you ever experienced robbery while driving?
AHMED: Yes. It happened two months ago at Mile 12, Lagos.
MW: What happened exactly?
AHMED: I was alone in the car driving in a go slow. Somebody was tapping on the driver’s door, indicating that I had climbed on somebody, speaking a language I did not understand. I became distracted, as I tried to understand what he was saying. I kept saying, ‘Eh..Eh.. pardon? While still holding my attention, another guy went to the other side of my car and picked my phone. I later saw them both walking off with the handset, but there was nothing I could do, because the car was on motion.
MW: Having lived in Europe, what’s your assessment of driving in Nigeria?
AHMED: Driving here is terrible, but one has to adapt.
MW: Terrible in what sense?
AHMED: It can be very tiring, because of heavy traffic and hold-ups. I feel tired while driving, more so because my car has got manual transmission. In a way, this is a place where you drive and sometime start feeling pains in your joint.
MW: Compared with driving in Europe?
AHMED: It is incomparable. Over there, you can say in 30 minutes, you will meet somebody, surely you will meet up. But here, it is a different ball game. In three hours, you may still be held up in a traffic.
MW: Your message to the motoring public and the authority responsible for driving in Nigeria?
AHMED: Motorists should drive safely and the authority too should do more in monitoring and sanctioning motorists, who don’t obey traffic regulations.