By Nwachukwu Egbunike
Mr Jelani Aliyu, the Nigerian Designer who produced “GM’s most electrifying advanced technology vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt concept, a battery-powered, extended-range electric passenger vehicle” will be finally honoured by his country. According to a news report (see number 136): Mr Aliyu will be conferred with the national award of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) by President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.
Who is Jelani Aliyu?
The post below (first published in February 16, 2010) answers the above question.
Jelani Aliyu: Breaking All Molds
“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 breaking 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.