Onyekachi Adekoya, is the Managing Director of PR 24, a category 'A' licensed security company in Nigeria. In this interview with BANKOLE ORIMISAN, he shares his experience on private security business in Nigeria and how to use solutions to address customer service and challenges in the industry. Excerpts:
Can you provide an insight into operations of company?
PR 24 Nigeria, means 'Protection Round The Clock'. Basically, we are a category 'A' licensed Security Company and in our approach to the business, we see ourself more as a professional services provider.
We believe that the service we render should impact on the customer to whom we serve, so, security service can either be an enabler of business, a promoter of business or at least, should give some level of strategic advantage to people who have right emphasis on security.
In the new paradigm where we are now, we are going into a space where you can now begin to see more strategic importance of security. If we look at Lagos State for example, you will see the level of investment the government is making in the area of security, because is an over-arching strategy it is to make Lagos a tourism destination. You cannot do tourism without security; and you cannot achieve some level of security without the right investment. So, in strategic investment, security is not the end point, security is just an enabler.
So, I think we are looking at security in that perspective. About the company, like I said, we are a category 'A' licensed security company. Our vision statement is very clear. We want to become the foremost and preferred solutions provider in our space; our mission is to provide active services to our customers and to support their profitability. So, we value everything we do as a company, with the customer in mind not just security only, but how do we partner with you to enable you take advantage of opportunities in your business and also have some advantage over your competitors.
Security is quite vast, our industry don't really focus on it as we should, and sadly in this part of the world, we don't really find companies with security director, instead what you find is the Chief Security Officer (CSO), who doesn't talk strategy, or have the best idea on how the business works and see why security is important. I think this is part of the issue we set out to try and address, and also change the paradigm when it comes to security.
How can businesses take advantage of your expertise or knowledge of security to provide the kind of steps you highlighted?
I think it is partnership, and interestingly, security is everybody's business.
Firstly, companies must have a collaborative approach to security, not a servant -master approach, as a matter of fact. The Chief Executive Officer must know the truth about their roles, they are the chief security officer of the company, and they are the chief safety officer. The law holds them responsible for the life and property of the people who work within their space, so it starts from the Chief Executive Officer.
They must understand that they cannot do without security and they must begin to look for where security can give them advantage in their business, and that mindset must be there. Once the emphasis is right, then you can talk about collaboration, how do you get the right partners?, not just the right partners, but the partners who understand the language of the business, and who can show you where the advantage is. For example, a company is coming to Nigeria for oil in the North East and there is boko haram there.
A particular Chief Executive Officer will say, there is insurgency there, don't let us go, another Chief Executive Officer who understands will ask the right question, how can we go to the North East, come out securely, safely and profitably. That question is where a true security partner will come in. Collaboration is the answer. You asked, how companies can get value from our services, it's through collaboration. If I am not dwelling too far, the problem with our sector and industry is that the curriculum of the present industry players does not really afford them the exposure of how business works, so whether you need an army or the police or any of those paramilitary or military institutions, their curriculum is tinted so much toward state function. Community police is even an issue in the country.
We have not even started talking about the state police, yes the discussion is going on now, even when we begin to implement it, it will also take us a phase at one time to get to Eldorado. So, the curriculum itself is a problem. If you don't have currently a wealth of knowledge of that understanding of how business works and how security can support the pursuit of business, then, something is missing. But there are some very few companies and some very few professionals who understand how this things work and how we can take advantage of proper partnership and collaboration, but the emphasis must start with the company seeking value to know that yes, there is this need for collaboration or partnership.
Can you give assement of the industry presently?
I don't think there is anybody to blame. The market is a problem; the industry is also a problem. Remember, we have come from a long history of military rule where good force was the other of the day. We are now in a nascent democracy, talking about 4th-5th republics, and some of the processes have not been entrenched because it is still evolving.
There are lots of pushes now from the association of licensed security practitioners, working hand in hand with our regulators, where private companies that reach a certain criteria can begin to play a critical role in intelligence and support services. A lot of discussion is coming up, just like state policing. You know we started with community policing, so there is a lot to talk about it.
When was PR 24 established, and who are your major clients?
You know we work in a sensitive space, so we may not be able to divulge details of our clients, so we look at the sectors. The company was incorporated in 2010 and we commenced operations in 2012, so I can say that we have been in operation for about 6 years. Our areas of focus are financial services, hospitality sector, oil and gas, construction and then foreign missions.
So, we currently have a number of clients, discerning client as we call them. Except you ask me how do I qualify my customers like that. There are some services you can provide for everybody, and there are some services that need specific requirement, so we were set out really not to provide a general sense of service as it were, we are specialist providers of security, be it physical or electronic. When we say solution, it means that a service or innovation must provide a need and solve a problem in such a way that it must create an enablement of some sought.
Why should a company engage you, and what sets you apart from competitors?
You asked a very good question. I was in another press parley where they asked how we are coping with competition in Nigeria. The answer is simple. Competition is good, very good. Once upon a time, we had NITEL and of course you know how service was, when Airtel, MTN, GLO and the rest came you know how it has changed. You can now port from one provider to another provider if you are not happy in a general sense of service.
Don't forget that we are the most populist black country on earth with very robust and dynamic huge population, so Nigeria is green space and everything is growing, so the many the merrier. Competition can only help you improve and bring out the best in you and it will get to a point where we move beyond competition to co-epitation, which is a now, the catch phrase where we now compete for common good. As an industry, what we should be thinking is how to move the industry forward. So, let's collaborate and there I will like to commend the NSCDC, the body that regulates all private security companies. The NSCDC, I think in line with the strategy of government is seeking to enable businesses really work. So, what set us apart from competition, I think is our value proposition. What we stand for.
As a security company, how has the environment impacted your business and what would be your expectation from government?
I think the problem we face really is not unique or peculiar to security industry. Doing business in Nigeria has been interesting generally. Fortunately for us, we have moved up in world ranking of doing business and I can tell you that we are feeling the positive impact.
What we would like to see is more support. Whatever government is trying to do or put in place to support business, they should do it quickly. Like Oliver Twist, we will continue to ask for more. I think the greatest challenge any business faces really in Nigeria is that of stable power and then cost of funds.