“They Call Me Mr. Make People Happy” Ibrahim Adekunle, Inventor of Nigeria’s First Limousine Tricycle defies his Limitations & Dreams BIG

26 year-old Ibrahim Adekunle never went to Secondary School. Attending a University is not one of his plans. After dropping out of Primary school due to financial constraints, he trained as a Blacksmith and Welder. But his knack for reconstructing and remodelling transport vehicles has ensured that despite his little formal education, his name is known across the world for good.

Some weeks ago, his “Limousine Tricycle” was one of the five selected inventions on the BBC’s coverage of the Maker Faire Africa, an exhibition for inventors which took place in Lagos. The picture of a regular tricycle popularly called Keke Marwa, but stretched to contain more seats than usual earned the admiration of many but also raised a lot of questions.

He calls it a “Limousine Tricycle” and said he built it after cutting a normal tricycle into two and adding more seats and parts in between. At his little space under the Oregun-Opebi link bridge in Ikeja, Lagos where he operates from, Ibrahim sat with BellaNaija’s Adeola Adeyemo inside his Limousine Tricycle and with  sense of well deserved pride, he shared his inspiring story.

Limousine Tricycle

What is your educational background?
I did not even go to school at all.

You mean you’ve never been in a classroom?
I went to school small, but I left school when I was in Primary Four. My parents told me there was no money again to take me to school, so my father took me somewhere to learn Blacksmith and Welder work. I did that for six years before I got my own place at Opebi Under Bridge here.

What kind of services do you offer to your customers here?
I’m doing my handiwork – radiator, shaft and welding work.

The picture of your “Limousine Tricycle” has been circulated online and it has gotten a lot of people curious. Where did you come up with the idea?
There was a day I was just thinking about what I can do to make people happy. So I bought a motorbike and I started changing it this way and that way. I changed it to my own taste and put more seats so that it looked like a car. After that, I was still thinking of what I can do to make people happy that is why I went to buy a Marwa (tricycle). I first thought of doing it like a Double Decker and putting more seats on top but since Marwa has only three tyres, I thought it wasn’t strong and it would fall down so I decided to use it to do Limousine that is why I call it “Limousine Tricycle”.

I’d like to see the motorbike. Where is it now?
I had to dismantle the bike and use some of the parts to build this one because I didn’t have enough money to buy all the parts I needed.

How much did it cost you to build the Limousine Tricycle?
I bought the Marwa fairly used from someone at N180,000. When I bought it, I cut it into two and bought a lot of parts from the market to construct this. All the parts I bought cost about N150,000.

From the time you bought the Tricycle, how long did it take you to convert it into this?
Because I didn’t have enough money, I did it small small. If I see N2,000 today, I’d work on it. If I see another money tomorrow, I’d go and buy more parts. It took me almost six months. But right now, if I have all the money I need and I want to do it for someone, I can finish it within two days.

Adding up all you’ve spent on the Tricycle, it’s over N300,000. Have you made up to the amount you invested on it?
I’ve used it to make money but I don’t think I’ve made up to N300,000 yet. I just finished it about three months ago and I’ve had just four jobs with it. I’ve taken it to some Church Rallies and they rent it for about N20,000 to N30,000. Somebody has used it to do a wedding before and I can still use it for carnival. In a rally, the pastor will sit inside, preach and share flyers.

If you were to make this for someone, how much would it cost?
I’d collect about N700,000. In that case, I’d go and buy a new Marwa which is about N350,000.

Have you considered using it for public transportation?
I have but if I want to do that, I have to put a middle tyre and I don’t have money for that now. But really, I don’t want to use it for public transport. If I do that, all these police men on the streets will be harassing me so it’s better for me to be renting it out.

The Limousine Tricycle is quite long. How many passengers can it carry and do you find it easy turning it around on our narrow roads?
This limousine carries about 10 to 13 people. It is very easy to turn. I live at Sango and I drive it from Ikeja to Sango about two times in a month and I have no problem with it. Even when we use it for Church Rallies, it doesn’t give any problem on the road.

You were part of the exhibitors at the recently concluded ‘Maker Fair Africa’. Tell me about your experience at the exhibition and what you gained from it?
I met a lot of people there. They promised me that they will call me. A lot of people who saw the picture of the Limousine on the internet called me and asked me what the Lagos State Government did for me and I said nothing.

What do you expect the Lagos State Government to do for you? What kind of support do you need?
I need a bigger place to build more things like this because I still have a lot of ideas. This place is not really convenient for me. I need my own space and financial support for my ideas.

Do you train others in the work that you do?
Yes. I have two boys that I’m training here but they have gone to school. When they come back, they will join me here.

While putting this together, did you have any discouragement from people around you who tried to stop you?
When I bought the Marwa, I took it to Ojota to go and cut it and they said I should not cut it. Infact, we almost fought there. Some people came and said why do I want to cut the Marwa but I told them I am the one that used my money to buy it and I know what I’m cutting it for. They said if I cut it I will spoil it but I just told them to leave me alone. When I started building the Limousine, all the people that said I should not cut it were now admiring it. If I had listened to them, I won’t have even done this thing at all. Even my father told me not to do it but I told him not to worry.

Entertainment Jeep

Aside from the Limousine Tricycle and the motorbike which you  had to dismantle, do you have any other similar inventions?
There is one tricycle that Fashola brought out that has a steering wheel like a car. I remodelled that one and I call it Entertainment Jeep. But I haven’t finished working on it.

You are doing all this with your money. And you haven’t gotten any external support. What is motivating you?
In Nigeria, people like things that are not common. I decided to build something that someone has never built before and I started from Okada (motorbike). The Okada that I transformed before can carry up to six passengers. I still have a plans to build that Double Decker so when I have money, I will go and buy a bus to build it. If I build something like that, people would be happy. I will like to use it for something like Lagos Carnival or Children’s Day celebration.

It seems you have a greater focus on entertaining people with your inventions?
Yes. I want to use them as side attractions, for entertainment and rallies, to make people happy.

Have you ever nursed the idea of travelling abroad with the skills that you have or are you very comfortable with the opportunities you have in Nigeria?
People are advising me to find money and go out of this country but I tell them my time has not reached. When God says yes, nobody can say no. But the thing is, if I travel to London or anywhere, I may not have this opportunity I have here. But I will just like to go abroad to learn how they build their engine so that when I come back to Nigeria, I will build my own full car. If I build anything now, I will have to go to market to buy the engine and put inside and that is very expensive. But if I can build the engine myself, there is nothing I cannot do. To build a car should be a very easy for us in Nigeria but we don’t know how to do it.

Do you have any training or experience with the mechanical aspects of a vehicle?
No, but if my Marwa or Okada has any fault, I repair it myself. I don’t have any money to pay a Mechanic so if anything is wrong with it, I will loose it and fix it by myself.

You have a very inspiring story, Ibrahim, and I wish you the very best. But before I leave, what do you want to tell people out there? What is your message to the world?
My message is that they should help me out. I still have a lot of ideas that will make people surprised and everybody will open their mouth and say this is very fantastic. Everywhere I go, I usually have a problem which is that people will be calling me and saying “guy, how do you do this, how do you do that?” Anywhere I go, people get attracted to my work. That is why I they call me “Mr. make people happy”. If I am going on my own with any of my inventions, once you see me, you will forget any sad thing you are thinking about and you will just be smiling.

66 Comments on “They Call Me Mr. Make People Happy” Ibrahim Adekunle, Inventor of Nigeria’s First Limousine Tricycle defies his Limitations & Dreams BIG
  • jane November 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    wow this guy is really blessed,hopefully nigeria will encourage such talented people

  • SheyShey7 November 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Awww God bless him!

  • James November 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    God bless you!

  • Brandigest November 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    With this skills if Ibrahim applies for skilled visa to Australia he’ll get it… Admire his passion and love for Nigeria. I pray he smiles to the bank soonest with this creativity.
    http://www.brandigest.wordpress.com

    • femi November 30, 2012 at 9:08 am

      i dont get it… why should he go to australia?

    • Tosin December 1, 2012 at 5:20 am

      Interesting idea. I know a Nigerian computer tech person who moved to Australia. And a Spanish physicist who was lured there too for some years. I don’t know if it’s that easy, but it’s a nice idea.
      To recap: success is not about going abroad. But travel is nice. The exposure especially.

  • Adeola November 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Awwww, God bless him. I rather invest some part of the N2.2B in him, than in a 150 seater banquet hall.

  • N.V. Daramola November 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Wonderful! But does it really qualify for a limo? ‘thought they should have A/Cs and WiFi and a mini-bar?

    • ebrufles November 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      seriously

      • ejiro November 30, 2012 at 12:47 am

        I’m tempted to insult the life out of you guys but I won’t bcuz of this blessing of a young man that we’re talking about here. Let’s just imagine that your comments are not shallow but milestones that Ibrahim can meet.

    • maya November 30, 2012 at 1:34 am

      jst shut up!!! christ! can one ever satisfy u ppl! wt av u done for urself? dis guy has little or nothing but his motivation is beyond me and he can come up wit mind blowing innovations, make something out of wat ppl general look down on. he has really motivated me. reading dis brought tears to my eyes bcz dis is wt i call pure talent and determination!! i pray dt God really does help him and make him great!

  • Mssexy November 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    there should be a ministry called “Ministry for Geniuses’ if there is anything like that to encourage this guy, those guys with urine generator so brain drain will not kill our country but NO d president is busy approving billions to build himself another banquet hall, shoeless people in govt

  • Mssexy November 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    pls send me his details, i’ll sponsor him to finish his project

    useless govt

  • mimi said November 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    a few months ago we saw on BN a very young boy do something as innovative as this even tho i cant remember wat it is again..but da truth is education is overrated sweardown..if without education dis young man culd do dis den wat really is da essence of schul at d end of d day..if not for the dumb 2 get better and da cleaver ones 2 keep inventing.. plz naija government shuld do somefin for this bright, smart and innovative ones ooo..let us da educated and dumb ones sort ourselves out ..plz dnt bash me ooo#justsaying

  • M November 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Oh my so intelligent and I really like the part about him leaving the country or not. Wish him the very best

  • M November 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Ps Adeola is a very good journalist, she always asks the right questions. Glory and herself are my bn favorites

  • Somebody’s Pikin November 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    WOW! Very inspiring story. Some of the worlds richest people are school dropouts. Only difference is they had financial support to invest in their idea. Education can be overrated to a point but we all need basic primary and secondary level training.

  • Wealthy one November 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I’m short of words! We should not wait till someone gives him a bulky amount! We have millions of people visiting this site, if we can kindly contribute 2,000 Naira each or even more. it will go a long way. Something worth celebrating and being part of. Please let’s organize a reliable way to contribute! It shouldn’t end in compliments please. God bless Nigeria. We are all blessed!

  • Janedoe November 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I kind of hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but we need to think critically about how we make “geniuses” out of the slightly better than ordinary or we risk making fools of ourselves. Yes, he has made something, but all he has done is refashioned something that was already made, it does not qualify as something significant. There is a reason people on the show “pimp my ride” are not tauted as geniuses, fine, they have more resources, but this is essentially the same thing, actually even less. He is not changing specs of an engine or anything, just doing body work to alter something already designed.

    Is he doing something worthwhile with his time? Yes, no doubt about that. Does this qualify him as a genius by making a significant contribution to mankind? No. This is the same way we are all making noise about urine-powered generator. Really, I guess because generators are all the (necessary) rage in a country like Nigeria we think, “oh, if I piss in it, it will power my freezer and aircon…piss is free…” that we forget (or perhaps we never learned) that it is inefficient, not new and what they have it is in fact appropriate for their educational level if they listened in class, which it appears they do. Let’s not celebrate mediocrity so that we can actually push ourselves to be better, so that those girls can learn the inadequacies of that generator and not rest on their laurels to become great chemists and engineers, let’s not make mountains out of molehills so that this man can look at the deficiencies in our transportation system and do more than body work, let’s not make local champions out of potential global game changers. It starts with us looking critically at our world and any “new” thing and “invention.”

    • mm November 30, 2012 at 12:15 am

      my friend go and sleep on a bicycle.!!kmt

      • nmbw November 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm

        lool….Ibrahim has done well and shown again that it’s not always about the various degrees and professional qualifications. Really, there is no excuse not to live your life to its maximum potential. Not all children that grew up shoeless or somewhat deprived have a problem with their thinking….some people might want to learn a lesson or two.

    • Pinky November 30, 2012 at 12:33 am

      Fair enough, this may not score high points for innovation, but before you rain and drown the parade, consider that the young man has a skill that could be further developed. I doubt this guy had access to auto-cad or even basic technical drawing but while, the limo design will not win any nobel prize, i think what we should commend is the ability to think differently, outside of the box.
      Now please dont take offence but the difference between you and him is that you got an education and it gave you the opportunity to develop yourself. I dont know if you are a local champion or an international one but know this: the Indians and Chinese started out as local champions and kept pushing till they went global. So instead of raining, put some sunshine on this poor chap’s simple dreams and maybe, just maybe we could inspire a generation of true indigenous innovators.

    • Ghatoh November 30, 2012 at 12:59 am

      1st of all, your points are ALL ridiculously dumb.

      This is a quote defining invention vs innovation: “In its purest sense, “invention” can be defined as the creation of a product or introduction of a process for the first time. “Innovation,” on the other hand, occurs if someone improves on or makes a significant contribution to an existing product, process or service.”
      CLEARLY you did not read this article. He is definitely an innovator for using a locomotive staple such as Keke Marwa and creating a version that has greater capacity to carry passengers. He has also identified his niche as one for leisurely transport. I’m sure when people like you would have discouraged whoever came up with those mini cars at the airport that are used to trasnport seniors and children between long distances. He has not changed the whole world but he has come up with a brilliant alternative to leisurely transportation services and MOST IMPORTANTLY, put a smile on the face of others. His work resonates happiness and celebration to others. So please instead of being so bitter, endeavor to appreciate or invent your own and make it better. Mr Ibrahim Adekunle is putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians, what are you doing?

      • alice November 30, 2012 at 11:46 am

        best comment ever…………….

      • Nickade December 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm

        Good point sir

    • maya November 30, 2012 at 1:39 am

      its ppl like u dt will nt make nigeria move forward! plz let us see wt u’ve created wit ur own hands plz!! cant u jst encourage someone! very sad and pathetic comment. go do one! nonsense

    • Dennis November 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

      In as much as I respect your personal view on this subject, I also want to bring the following facts to the forefront : Bill gates did not invent the computer, He only made it faster and better. Henry Ford did not invent the automobile engine, he only made it better and faster. So never talk down on an innovation no matter how small it may seem. It’s those little innovations that paves the way for great revolutions (mini-bar, coffee table, aircon etc). Almost everyone can analyse anything but very few can synthesize something. I congratulate the chap for thinking out of the box. Success to me is not the height you attain but the depth you came from. This guy comes from a very disadvantaged point. I salute his courage.

    • Sola November 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      If you call this mediocrity, then my friend you dont know what that word means at all. Anu ofia. What have you done yourself. To choose a name like Jane Doe, means you are nothing, a nobody, can be anybody.

      • Doubledamn! December 1, 2012 at 1:10 am

        Abeg jo. People on here are like sheep. One dissenting opinion, and it is -your comment is dumb, anu ofia, … It seems Janedoe’s point is that we should not get carried away so that people can reach their full potential. Yes, the bobo has potential, but honestly it not big a deal that we should be creating ministry of genius. That ministry of genius bit was actually funny.

    • HRS November 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      Guy, waka enter shalanga! What have u invented in ur entire life?! Pass d mic jor!

  • Lia November 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    God bless the work of your hands and reward you for using the talent He has blessed you with.

  • Phantom November 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    LoL

  • MyView November 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    More Grease to Your Elbow!

  • artful dodger November 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    good work… safety and quality assessment should be something else that needs to be added to these modifications. speaking as an engineer… :D

  • e-bukun November 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Now that’s productive. I commend his efforts and creativity. I wish him well and hope more people would apply themselves like this.

  • jaybee November 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    @janedoe,madam killjoy,mtsheww,u definately rained on his parade,smh

  • Joanna November 29, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Highly commendable craftsmanship! Kudos to him for not idling away.Hope he gets some kind of ‘patent’ for his designs if they would aid the States’ transportation needs in any way.Wish him all the rewards a mind put to positive use attracts!

  • nita November 29, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    @janedoe we r encouraging development, problem solvers. ‘His mates’ r out der stealing, killing , kidnapping n yet we should nt support d way he tinks n wat he does bcos of wat? Dt he wud feel like a genius? He is a genius! To do somtin positve in a country as negative as naija, he is definately a genius! Keeping himself busy wit doing gud. Wat av u done 4 ur sociey? Pls answer ooo

  • soph November 30, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Amazzzzzing! God bless you, you’ve made me happy :)

  • salsera November 30, 2012 at 1:20 am

    would love to know what we can do to encourage him, he loves using his hands – everyone with creative talents needs an outlet to hone their craft

  • Asiasands November 30, 2012 at 1:35 am

    a self taught engineer in the making.. needs peanuts to fine tune his trade and become an asset to his country.. but will Nigeria take note?? No, we’re too busy embezzling and getting fat.. the oppression is alive and well in Nigeria…

  • deedee November 30, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Good job Ibrahim,i wish u the very best coz u are a genius in the making,*thumbs up*

  • NNENNE November 30, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Congratulations. Don’t let people steal your ideas.

    • Tosin December 1, 2012 at 4:57 am

      The way ideas work, you must let others steal your ideas. You hide it, you lose it. You express it, it becomes a living thing. Someone steals it, it grows. You grow, you have a new one.

  • barbz November 30, 2012 at 3:33 am

    wow!! he is very innovative, i pray God makes a way for him

  • promslik November 30, 2012 at 5:50 am

    People like Janedoe is the problem Nigeria is having, always using mouth to spoil oda pepo’s progress ‎​and works while dey cant even do anyfn demselves. Dis guy gat talent ‎​and d talk abt nt building from d scratch had been dealt wit by dis guy, he believes he can go abroad, learn hw to make engine ‎​and manufacture a full car. I’m sure u cant even create eba from garri…smh

    • Dennis November 30, 2012 at 9:20 am

      It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
      Theodore Roosevelt

  • Josh November 30, 2012 at 8:27 am

    wonderful innovation

  • Couture By Makioba November 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

    this is so inspiring… May God bless him…

  • Fan November 30, 2012 at 9:11 am

    This is amazing stuff… Please where is this young man on the list of young achievers awards. #ibeg

  • nancy November 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

    This boy is indeed an inspiration. Let’s think of ways to help him.

  • a ipade November 30, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Creativity at its best.
    Keep it up boy.

  • ebuka November 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

    please how can one reach him?even if its just a phone call

    • Adeola Adeyemo November 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      @ebuka His telephone number is on the front and sides of the vehicle

  • marylove November 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    nice concept….keep it up and may God bless ur effort

  • oge November 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    @janedoe,you are a bad critic,I believe you are not a nigerian,or if you are you dont understand the economic condition in nigeria,people like you once criticised Isaac Newton, nonetheless we have more yes on these issue than No.
    Both you and Ghatoh, should do one thing lets see, if it is genius like, innovative or just invention ,mtsheeew

  • Love November 30, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Well done! Im impressed not just by his designs but his attitude and that imho is one of the things that will make him a success unlike ppl who spend time criticizing he has exhibited creativity/imagination, discipline, drive, and intelligence (Im quite impressed he realizes the opportunities he has here in Naija vs ppl who just want to run abroad). Go on Ibrahim!

  • Xxx November 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks Bella Naija for brightening up our day.

  • purplepearl November 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    God bless you. I wish we will have innovative reality shows to encourage people like Ibrahim out there rather than the funny voices we hear all in the name of singing

  • flo November 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    awww.. very creative.. we all have to start from somewhere

  • Jokey November 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Good Job, keep it up man!

  • Rest in heaven,my little cuti! November 30, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    He grant that interview himself? He is well spoken then..will definately be his friend,even if I have no token to contribute

  • Tosin December 1, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Nigerians can and do create great things. Anybody who finds this fact amazing should be ashamed of herself. This maker has found his thing and he is already successful whether he goes ‘to the abroad’ or not.
    I dream that many such mechanically-inclined people will get together and groove together – who knows what greatness could come out of such?
    I do want to praise Maker Faire for creating such a meeting (even tho I wasn’t there.) And nudge people to make similar meetings. Thanks.

  • Tosin December 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I passed by the stretch keke, aka limousine yesterday. Nice stuff. There’s an amphibious contraption displayed often at Ikeja (bus stop area, between Computer Village and the Local Govt. Secretariat). Once you get done laughing at their mad dreams, then you say of these people, wow, this is how God blesses the world. Go on and shine…everybody has a gift or gifts. Nigeria is great, will be very great if many of us do our part with our God-given gifts.

  • Tunmi December 5, 2012 at 5:08 am

    The guy is an engineer and he DID get an education, he was trained as a blacksmith and welder.

    Janedoe has a point. With an investment in this guy, he could definitely be more than he is and even better. It’s like the sierra-leone kid who was invited to MIT. The kid made batteries and generators out of what he found in his surroundings. Now, he’s somewhere where he can and will learn so much more.

    That’s what this guy needs. He just needs a formal engineering education, whether in Naija, Ghana or the US.

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