“Our nation may suffer the frustrating challenges of a prolonged childhood but the nobility of our people’s dreams outpace the putrid vision of their leaders.” – Nuhu Ribadu
Watching Jelani Aliyu’s documentary on YouTube was edifying, for the simple reason that it breaks every mould. Jelani is not the typical soft-selling star that are foisted on our sight by the sleazy press. He is a northerner (from Sokoto State), a Muslim, he grew up in Nigeria, left the university to complete his studies in a polytechnic and above all his just secured the future for General Motors by creating Chevy Volt. He certainly does not fit any labeling.
What I find rather strange is the chilling silence on Aliyu’s story in Nigeria media. Trawling through the links, Mr Aliyu’s discovery was reported in 2007 in NVS and The Daily Triumph. I cannot but agree with Michael Oluwagbemi’s The Nigerian Who Designed an American Car that the nauseating attitude of not exalting industry but rather prostrating to mediocrity is a national malaise. Mr Oluwagbemi was incensed by the inability of our press in celebrating Jelani Aliyu’s success and I concur with him. Obviously Aliyu breaks the stereotype of ‘the goro-chewing Northerner’ – a picture which we have been feed to believe in. Asides I wonder who will dare add Aliyu into US terrorist list? If we also accept the pigeonhole that all Muslims are necessarily on jihad, then one will certainly have a hard time with the auto designer. That’s how Jelani Aliyu broke the first mold.
I have always maintained that we don’t all have to attend a university. In civilised economies, very few make it to a university while the majority attend a polytechnic or a skilled school. This fact in itself is not a measure of each person’s ‘success’; because highly-skilled workers earn more than the so-called intellectuals. Jelani Aliyu has broken mold number two, by abandoning a degree in Architecture from Amadu Bello University, Zaria and rather electing to study for a lower diploma in architecture from the Birinin Kebbi Polytechnic. His passion was so grand that he could not find satisfy it within a theory-driven university environment.
Mr Jelani Aliyu triumph also illustrates the Nigerian spirit to excel despite all odds. The fact that we may be saddled by a putrid and clueless leadership should never preclude the people’s potentials. The American auto revolution was propelled by a Nigerian car designer. I can only congratulate Mr Aliyu for braking all moulds and for producing “GM`s most electrifying advanced technology vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt concept, a battery-powered, extended-range electric passenger vehicle”. Mold number three, most Nigerians are not yahoo, yahoo.