Driving from Lagos to Abuja memorable — Okeowo – Punch Newspapers

The Director of Heritage Automobiles Logistics, Oluwaseun Okeowo, tells TOBI AWORINDE why he set up a multipurpose driving school

Please, give a brief introduction of yourself.

I am an indigene of Ogun State, Nigeria. I am a seasoned financial manager who specialises in fraud and investigative control. I am also an automobile logistician and an educational advisor.

What are the peculiarities of being an executive in the auto industry?

The global automotive industry is increasingly characterised by many functions, including production, distribution, maintenance, uses, and so on. Nigeria as a country is a major importer of automobiles from all over the world. As a developing country, efforts are being made by the government and some individuals through innovative policies and trade liberalisation programs. But Nigeria must look for avenues to contribute its quota to the society as a whole. That propelled me to choose the aspect of ‘uses’ of the automobile as a stakeholder in the industry. The safety of the users of various automobile should not be taken for granted. I therefore choose to educate automobile users about safety consciousness and also the economical factor attached to automobiles.

What can you point to as the turning point in your career so far?

Before the establishment of Heritage Automobile Logistics, I always had it in mind to inject into the nation a better way of having a well-cultured automobile industry; this propelled me to establish the firm; and so far, so good. Lives have been saved through a better monitoring scheme, and there has been job creation.

How would you describe your work ethic?

My work ethic is guided by my attributes, feeling and belief to my work. I strongly form a good relationship with my staff that encourages them to see the organisation as their own. I also create an avenue of apprenticeship and a warm relationship with clients. We set our priorities right by seeing customers as kings with the notion of educating them on a better way of motoring and service delivery. In short, we have specifically delineated our core values into diligence, sincerity, time agreement/consciousness, respectfulness/humility, and dedication.

What inspired your career in the auto industry?

My passion for excellence made me to venture into it. I see the industry as a life span of the nation. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well.

What informed the decision to set up your business?

The inspiration for my company was the desire to see Nigerian motorists driving with dignity and earning respect.

When and why did you establish Heritage Logistics?

I established the business in April 2014, when I was tired of seeing the industry being controlled and managed by mediocre driving instructors.

How do you deal with competition?

When it comes to competition, I turn to these: competency, efficiency, standardisation, a good work ethic and advertisement.

What does it take to run a successful driving school?

It takes a lot of training in automobile logistics, training with transportation agencies like the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Vehicle Inspection Service, as well as instructors, auto mechanics, regular training of instructors, etc.

What is your most memorable experience teaching a learner?

My memorable experience was when I had to train a non-English-speaking student, with no knowledge of my local language (Yoruba). The guy could speak only Hausa; he didn’t understand our official language English. So, we had to use a strange way of teaching him. He was a 24-year-old herdsman who said he ended his education at Primary 1 or 2, and he had the intention of learning how to drive. It was done through dramatisation.

So, how could he read road signs, based on demonstration alone?

He took longer than the normal time. We took him to so many places and told him about speed limits. Instead of him to spend the normal three weeks, he spent almost two months and he paid extra. We just had to let him know all the rudiments about driving. This was early last year. It was so funny. The instructors were complaining but I had to involve myself, since he had an interest in learning. With the little Hausa I could speak, I was able to say things like ‘30 km per hour’ in Hausa.

Can you share an unforgettable experience you have had involving a traffic official?

My relationship with them has been cordial since they know we work together.

What is your favourite mode of public transportation and why?

I like the Bus Rapid Transit and Uber. I like the BRT because it is safer and economical, but my preference is Uber because it is faster.

What is your most memorable public transport experience?

This was back when we had molue (commercial buses). My pocket was almost picked; it was very frightening. It was during a trip from Oshodi to Sango; in fact, the guy almost flung me out of the molue when I caught his hand in my pocket. My experience with LAGBUS was ruined by so much noise and abuses; there was no decorum at all.

Do you consider yourself adventurous? What is the most daring thing you have done as a driver?

I could be very adventurous. I used to be very daring until I ventured into the business, but I am more enlightened now, so I think of safety first.

When you go car shopping, what features do you look out for?

I look out for the make of the car, that is, the interior and the body. I also am very conscious of the availability of car parts and accessories. The year of manufacture is important; the engine condition and the colour as well.

What is the longest road trip you have been on?

My longest trip so far was very memorable; it was a trip from Lagos to Abuja. The journey covered almost all the South-West states. It was a continuous driving exercise for almost eight hours. I left Lagos at around 6 am to Ibadan to pick up my cousin who was travelling to the United Kingdom. I was to drop him off at the airport in Abuja. The journey was smooth, his flight was booked for 9 pm, and that was my first longest trip on the road.

My driving experience to Akure was easy because I was already used to the road. But from Akure to Okene, I was more careful because it was an unfamiliar route; I went on the journey with a hired driver, so he could show us the way. The driver later took over the wheel from Okene and drove to Abuja and also back to Lagos. I enjoyed the morning session of the trip because of the weather. If at all I want to go on a long-distance trip, I prefer to drive in the morning.

Do you agree with the notion that most Nigerian drivers are not properly trained?

Yes, I totally agree. Most Nigerian drivers are not properly trained.

What are the similarities and differences between Nigerian and foreign drivers?

In terms of similarities, they are both are called driver and drive or control an automobile. In terms of differences, foreign drivers are better trained and obey or respect the traffic laws. Foreign drivers face any laid-down penalties in the case of any fault; Nigerians most of the time buy their way out. In terms of age of certification, most foreign countries permit driving at 16, but in Nigeria, you must be 18. Finally, foreigners are more informed about the driving technicalities.

What do you think is responsible for the driving culture in Nigeria?

The major factors that constitute our poor driving culture are untrained drivers, bad roads and infrastructure, and impatience.

How do you unwind?

I play football and listen to good music, especially highlife, to replenish the depleted psychological energy.

What is your number one career goal?

My goal is a safe country for driving through proper monitoring.

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