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Raising The Nigerian Autocare Technical Standards
05.01.2016

Being the last month of the year, December is a month filled with love, humanity, and giving. It is also synonymous with holidaying as Nigerians typically embark on family trips and tours. It is not rare to find people saving months ahead to pay for their holiday trips as transportation fares increase due to consumer demand. Unfortunately, various statistics have shown that there is a surge in road accidents during the festive season due to the increase in the number of travelers and vehicles on the road.

On May 11, 2011 The United Nations implemented the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety with efforts directed at the reduction of global road accidents by 2020. Between 2006 and 2013, the FRSC reported 41,118 deaths resulting from road accidents. Based on the research by Nigeria Watch, Lagos has the highest number of road fatalities in Nigeria with 1,579 deaths, followed by Edo with 1,129 deaths, and FCT (Abuja) with 1,046 deaths. The study also revealed that 1,754 deaths occurred in the month of December; the human factor accounts for a huge percentage of these accidents such as driver errors, impaired driving, manufacturing defects, environmental conditions and mechanical failures.

Approximately 15% of these accidents are attributed to mechanical failures – a number estimated to triple during the last quarter of the year, popularly referred to as the “Ember” months.  Amongst mechanical factors leading to fatal car accidents are poor vehicle maintenance, tyre blowouts, poor lights, un-roadworthy vehicles, and broken-down vehicles on the road without adequate warning.  The traffic pressure on the road during the seasonal period increases fatal car accidents, as cars unfit for short trips undergo longer trips and more arduous journeys than the usual. Commercial vehicles also, in the quest for increased profit, tend to over speed and drive recklessly in their poorly maintained automobiles, significantly increasing the risk of auto accidents.

The risks of auto accidents due to mechanical failures can be greatly reduced if vehicle owners and drivers take better care of their automobiles by frequent checks and repairs offered by professionals. Depending on their financial ability, car owners select their choice from the various auto care options available to suit their needs – from advanced auto care centres with modern equipment and skills, to the popular mechanic villages. In addition, some vehicle owners get their services from unregistered road-side mechanics or make-shift workshops; there is a huge probability that such auto solutions are given based on a trial and error approach.

Vehicles available in Nigeria have become more complex due to advanced technology, yet there is a huge skills gap in the auto mechanic industry despite the proliferation of auto mechanics in the country.   There has been little or no provision for mechanics to constantly improve their skills to operate at increasingly technical levels and the number of make-shift workshops greatly outnumber the professionals in the industry.

To bridge this gap, Oando Marketing Plc. in 2014 launched its Oleum Academy, an initiative designed to empower auto mechanics in Nigeria with the necessary technical skills in the automobile industry, while constantly updating them with current trends and ensuring the public gains easy access to professional auto service and vehicle maintenance. This initiative was launched in conjunction with the body of Nigerian Automobile Technician Association (NATA), Motor Mechanic and Technician Association of Nigerian (MOMTA), and the Association of the Lady Automobile Technicians (ALAT) to ensure a free, fair and more effective admission process.

The framework of Oando Marketing Plc.’s Oleum Academy was designed to support the alternative learning and skills development project an initiative of the African Development Bank which provides high quality vocational training and mirrors the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for poverty reduction and the development strategy in the country. Facilitators of the Oleum Academy training is Auto medics, a renowned automotive mechatronics outfit that specializes in automobile training & education, vehicle diagnosis, maintenance and sales of spare parts in Lagos. They commenced business seven years ago as a radio programme to effect positive cultural and practice changes in modern automobiles usage and maintenance in Nigeria; soaring from a highly successful radio programme to an institution of learning for automobile and mechatronics engineering emerging as one of the best auto-care centres in Nigeria.

One of the beneficiaries and graduants of this programme, Sunday Olalekan, who has been in the business for over 7 years, testified that access to this opportunity has opened more doors for him as he can attend to vehicles with advanced technology. He added that “Participating in the training without paying one kobo was like a miracle and I feel blessed. We need more programs like this in this industry as there are some tools I wouldn’t never have known my whole life. My customers are more confident in my skills and I am also even more confident in the solutions I provide them”.

Speaking on the initiative, the Chief Executive Officer of Oando Marketing Plc., Mr. Abayomi Awobokun, emphasized the company’s passion for skill development and economic growth in every environment it operates. “This project is dear to our hearts, because we know the immense potential it has to build institutional capacity while enhancing skills for employment, economic advancement and poverty reduction”. He added that “The Oleum Academy is one of the many initiatives designed to give back to Nigerians; it is an initiative that has to do with training and equipping mechanics with internationally-acclaimed

Graduating auto-technicians from the Oando Oleum Academy (First Batch).

skills. We do not just train the mechanics and let them go, we support them with additional information and equipment when necessary”.

This same passion for skills development is reflected in Oando Marketing Plc.’s commitment to giving back to the community as it organized a one-day free car diagnostics event for automobile owners in Lagos. The event which was powered by its premium lubricant range, Oleum; had over 1000 pre-registered vehicles; and took place at the National Stadium on Saturday, December 19, 2015. The free car diagnostic event was organized to promote car-care consciousness, ensuring fewer road accidents and mishaps due to mechanical and technical faults. The Oil change session was carried out by Oando auto-care centers, well-known for their professional auto-services, while the car diagnosis was performed by Oando Marketing’s technical partners, Auto medics.

Speaking on the free car diagnostics, Mr. Abayomi Awobokun said the initiative was primarily focused on informing the public that Oleum cares about their cars. “Today, it is more than generating awareness about our lubricants, it is also about easing holiday travel for auto-mobile users. This event will help every car owner present detect faults, get lasting solutions from our auto care professionals, and expert advice via interactions with our team of experts. It is really many things in one but most importantly we want to show our customers that it is not just about sales, we also care about their cars and their safety because we understand that the festive season is usually a cause of concern when it comes to road accidents.”

Oando Marketing’s Head of Lubes, Mrs. Lilian Ikokwu, said that the Oleum sponsored diagnostic event which was the first ever in the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil industry was aimed at creating awareness for Lagos residents on the need to be more proactive about car care. Throwing more light on the thought behind the initiative, she said, “This is yet another medium to express our commitment to quality products and excellent customer service. This initiative gives every participant the opportunity to service their cars whether they are traveling or staying in Lagos for the holiday, ensuring that they all make safe trips with no interruptions or vehicular failure’’.

Customers receiving professional services on their vehicles at the free Oleum Syn Diagnostics Event by Oando Marketing, recently.

One of the beneficiaries of the free car diagnosis, Mr. Anabike Henry, was thrilled at the experience. He expressed excitement at the identification of the root cause of his vehicles’ excessive fuel consumption. Anabike who applauded Oando Marketing,

said apart from saving him a huge sum of money at the mechanics, he learnt about the importance car care and frequent car checks. “Diagnosing a vehicle is very expensive; Oando Marketing has saved me that cost. And I have really learnt a lot about my vehicle. Since, I have knowledge of what has been causing the hiccups in my car; I can now better handle the problem. I can’t thank Oando Marketing enough. I am travelling for the holidays and I can assure you that the benefit is well-appreciated.”

Commenting on the efficiency of the Oleum lubricant at the event, Miss Kemi Adebola said, “I’m a first time user of the Oando Oleum lubricant and after test driving my car for a few minutes after the oil change, the performance of my engine actually feels different, there’s an improvement. I definitely will ensure that my mechanic uses Oleum for my engine. I’m glad I registered online and actually came today, I also had so much fun.”

In addition to the free car checks and oil change, attendees were treated to sumptuous finger foods prepared with Oando Marketing’s popular LPG brand, O-Gas. Lucky customers were also rewarded with free fuel vouchers and amazing discounts on lubricant purchases.

 

The Oleum Syn Car diagnostics event is the first of its kind in the industry and plans are already in the works to make it an annual event, eventually the initiative will be extended beyond Lagos to other regions in Nigeria. The CEO, Oando Marketing said “by next year we plan to have even more discounts and activities for our customers, we are planning to include road safety talks and road worthiness exercises that will be of much benefit to road users. As a brand that preaches integrity and commitment, sustenance is vital in everything we do, this is obvious in the services experienced by customers at Oando Auto-care centers, where technology is constantly updated to match the needs of our clients all year round.”

Oando Marketing Plc. is consciously making efforts to add value to the lubricant and automotive industry in Nigeria through its skills development and customer reward initiatives. Oando Marketing Plc. has successfully progressed with the Oleum Academy; training over 300 auto-technicians in the past 18 months with the goal of training 5,000 auto-technicians over the next five years; 2016 can only mean more game-changing ideas and initiatives.

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