[dropcap]H[/dropcap]e emerged from his glassed office located at Victoria Garden City, Lekki Peninsular in Lagos, Nigeria, clad in blue native dress with beaded band on his wrist. Ebony, fresh dark and Solomonic height, it was obvious that he is of royal blood. But something struck our attention. Printed below the front end of his dress is a royal badge, which prompted our first question, what is that badge about?
He laughed and simply answered: “I’m a community leader”. But our post-visit finding revealed that we just stopover a King awaiting coronation, man who aspires to become the next Monarch of Aramoko Ekiti, Ekiti State of Nigeria. He is Prince Olusegun Aderemi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Automatic Fits and Energy Limited.
Beyond being a leader of his people in Ekiti State, Prince Aderemi also occupies a large hold among the stakeholders of the nation’s automobile industry and transport sub-sector. During the visit, all his statements were coloured with concern for safety and security – safety on roads, on air and of lives and properties. Even when asked what motivated establishment of his organization, his answer was: “We were motivated by the need to safe lives”. He said he was worried over high rate of road accidents in Nigeria, most of which resulted from poor vehicle maintenance culture. He was specific about tyres and brakes. Chatting with Motoring World’s editor-in-chief, FEMI OWOEYE and Senior Correspondent, ROTIMI ASHER, Prince Aderemi talked about importance of MOT and maintenance of vehicles and tyres. Towards the end, he expressed a concern: Why is it that aeroplane have problems during take-off and landing? Could it be that they need wheel balancing and alignment?” It’s revealing. Enjoy it.
MW: What motivated the birth of Automatic Fits and Energy Limited.?
Prince Aderemi: The motivation was a need to save lives.
Prince Aderemi: For instance, over the years, I found out that 60 to70% of road accidents resulted from wrongly inflated tyres as well as unbalanced and unaligned tyres.
MW: Please throw more light on that?
Prince Aderemi: It’s like this. While your tyre inflation should be gauged at 40 while driving around town, it should not be more than 35psi, if making a long trip along a highway, reason being that while driving at a high speed, tyres are capable of inflating themselves. Therefore, if you drive on fully inflated tyre on a highway, the pressure inside the tyre would increase. And that could result in tyre blow-out and fatal accident. Also wheel balancing and alignment are required when your mechanic works on the car‘s suspension, steering, shaft, ball joints and lower arms. If your wheels are not properly balanced or aligned, driving and steering are affected.
We also found out that before independence, our electricity cables were laid underground as it is in Europe. It is activities of vulcanizers, who continuously made fire on the ground to repair tubes, actions, which damaged underground electricity cables, which is why we resulted to surface cables as we have it today. To solve the problem, we went into training vulcanizers on use of modern tyre repair equipment. All these steps we took have resulted in reduction of accident rates in the country.
Prince Aderemi: Of course, yes. It has got to do with the nature of services we would render. Just like Kwik Fit in England, what we do is quick service. For instance, there is no point dropping your car with a mechanic for hours or a whole day, simply because you want to change your oil or carry out servicing. We are not taking jobs off the mechanics. But our centres are equipped to handle quick repairs and servicing. Also, because of digital and modern equipments that we have, we do more effective and accurate wheel balancing and alignment.
MW: What is your spread like?
Prince Aderemi: We are all over the federation, gradually increasing number of centres we have at various States of the federation. As at today, we already have up to 50 centres across the country.
MW: How many Nigerians have you been able to employ since you took off eight years ago?
Prince Aderemi: We have employed over 500 employees nationwide and the number keeps increasing as we expand our operations.
MW: Aside vehicle servicing and wheel alignment, what else do you do?
Prince Aderemi: We also do tracking and, in partnership with Michelin, sales and supply of quality tyres.
MW: What advice do you have for Nigerian Motorists?
Prince Aderemi: They should look more into quick service; yes, we are not taking the place of mechanic workshops. But when your car’s problem is not major; for quick servicing and repair, there is no point dropping your car at a mechanic workshop for hours, when in a short while, at our Total centre, your servicing is carried out in a jiffy. Like I said earlier, our primary objective is to safe lives. On vehicle servicing, if you do it with us, advantage is that we give a sticker that will remind you of when to do the next service.
MW: There are motorists, who service their vehicles quarterly or, ignorantly, after engine oil has gone darker. Generally, what do you say to them?
Prince Aderemi: The scheduled maintenance for your vehicle may differ based on brand and model, the vehicle mileage and the type of driving you do, as well as other factors. In general, I recommend preventative maintenance services every 3,000 miles or 2 months, whichever comes first.
MW: What other future plans have you?
Prince Aderemi: Diversification into vehicle parts manufacturing. We are already discussing with a French company regarding this. Secondly, we plan to go into aviation and make enquiries into why aircrafts have problems during landing and take-off. For we wonder if the problem has got to do with wheel balancing and alignment.