My names are Michael Olatokunbo Oladele Lewis, I’m married to beautiful Agnes Lewis and blessed with children, I am a 1992 graduate of computer science. I have always wanted to be my own boss, I tried my hands on a few businesses in Nigeria before moving to United Kingdom in 2002. The first job I could secure in the UK was as a security guard probably due to my physical presence and mainly because that was what was available to me at that time.
I did my job with the utmost sense of responsibility and was in no time given a portfolio of an arm of the company to run and manage, that exposed me to the way things work in the UK business-wise, and after a while, branched out to set up C.T Guard UK Ltd in 2005, the rest as they say is history.
C.T Guard started with one or two clients and a handful of regular guards at inception, today, we are running 15 sites with a huge base of satisfied clientele and a collection of trained and experienced guards on demand. Over the years, C.T Guard UK Ltd has successfully worked on over 100 construction sites including ad hoc security/crowd management events in Wembley arena and Festival of life - Redeemed church programme at the London Excel Centre.
Although we service other sectors of the economy, our major clientele are in construction and that is strategic. Housing is a huge aspect of the UK economy as it is in other economies and by law (Health & safety) every construction sites must provide a round the clock security to secure the site when workers have gone home and to ensure that people accessing the site during the day comply with all safety standard requirements.
What is the place of C.T Guard UK Ltd Iin the hieghtened security situation around the world?
C.T Guard UK Ltd has been an active player in the UK security sub sector, we have over the years invested in electronic surveillance equipment to match the security challenges of the time. We engage in remote and local CCTV installations and monitoring, we use metal detectors and body scanners at large events to keep up with modern day threats. We work with the police by making our footages available to them to assist in investigation and apprehension of criminals, we also sometimes provide courtroom evidence where we are involved. Global security threat, be it ISIS in Syria/Iraq and Turkey or Al-shabab in north Africa or Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria Cameroon and Niger or even Cybercrime, is something that should concern everybody as most of them are also spreading their ideology in addition to the beheadings and bombings, and with ideology spread comes what is known in security parlance as home-grown terror. We all have to be security conscious but as a stakeholder, C.T Guard is investing in the latest security gadgets and is constantly updating our staff training. I also play a security advisory role in my local community in Essex, a service I would like to bring to bear in Nigeria if given the opportunity.
Any plan to replicate this in Nigeria?
Yes, we are expanding the business into Nigeria as we speak although little has been done in the media because we see no point in making noise without much substance, we are taking off in Nigeria with our other brand ‘EAGLE SECURITY’ it is registered in the UK and its registration process in Nigeria is almost complete. We are not oblivious of the challenges of business operations in Nigeria but we are driven by our passion for our motherland and having been a success in the UK, we are sure of being a success in Nigeria regardless of the challenges. Eagle Security hope to make more visible, the use of electronic surveillance and up to date gadgetry in the security industry. We are bringing professionalism and latest technology both in training and human development to work with the state security organs as we do here in the UK to ensure safety of lives and property in Nigeria. We will start with private homes for those who can afford it, then extend it to government at state and subsequently at the national level.
Boko Haram -any advice for government?
Well, Boko Haram is not only a Nigerian problem but that of the entire West Africa sub region. One of our major challenges in successfully tackling it is corruption, no sovereign state ends up with such a huge security problem without cooperation from high ranking individuals within the system. With my experience in the business of security, I believe that there were people collaborating with the group which made it difficult for former president Jonathan to successfully root out the group, there were elements within the administration who were compromising government’s efforts, where allocation for the purchase of arms and ammunitions end up in individual’s account, when arms and security vehicles were found in the home of a sacked security chief. Another problem was the lack of or no visible cooperation between the last government and the leaders of our neighbouring countries. You will recall that one of the very first thing the new leader did was to visit his counterparts in Cameroon and Niger to discuss strategy and cooperation, although we may say his military background showed forth there, it’s the best way to go, so that when the Nigerian Army are closing in on Boko Haram, they have no place to retreat to because they will face similar attack on the other side of the border. President Buhari is the right man for the job at this moment, by the time he’s through with the corruption investigation of arms and ammunitions, provide the Army with the right tool to do the job, we should be noticing a drastic reduction in the number of attacks.
What advice will you give aspiring Nigerian enterprenuers in UK?
For starters, I will advise that you get registered with the right regulating body for the industry you’re going into. This makes your business legit and gives it some level of credibility before your clients. Have a ‘can do’ mind-set, a lot of people elevates the racial barrier in this country such that it starts affecting them even before they experience it, my approach is, remove the barrier from your mind and approach people and establishments with an open mind, backed up by your knowledge of what you are into. Understand why you decided to leave the 9 to 5 rat race to start your business and go all out as if there is no glass ceiling, you may get knocked back but don’t conclude it was because of my colour, ask yourself. Was my proposal/presentation tight enough? Are there things I could have done differently? Look at yourself first before concluding that you got knocked because of the colour of your skin. I have gone into other areas of business that I lost a lot of money, manage your resources as much as possible, manage your risks, and also have it at the back of your mind that you won’t attain your desired level overnight, it is precept by precept, a little here, a little there. It all comes down to knowing what you want, going for it and don’t let any barrier stand in your way.