NADDC: Where’s Jelani Aliyu, Nigeria’s most celebrated automobile giant?


By Muhammad Bashir, Abuja

When I first heard about Federal Government’s plan to rejuvenate and bring to life, the country’s automobile industry, and that the responsibility to manage the sector will rest on Jelani Aliyu’s shoulders – a Sokoto indigenous genius, I instantly took a sigh of relief mixed with unimaginable joy – knowing that the ‘bright’ future of our dear land is definitely here.

By and large, I started following Jelani’s nose in 2010, and since then, I embraced him as my ‘all-day role model’ as a result of his peculiar and notable innovations and creativity – which encouraged me to voluntarily and interestingly engage in studying his life history.

Unlike many brilliant young Nigerians who exhibit some kinda hair-raising mental power during their childhood – but end up being forced to either misuse the talent or kill it entirely, Jelani, at his tender age, got the support of his family members to catch-up his dreams of becoming both a cavalier and a highly sophisticated king of designs in the world.

Historically, Jelani Aliyu was always keen with different objects that surround him – and that’s what motivated him to venture into drawings of people, objects, plants and many other things that come to his mind. That’s how the fortune literally started.

On the issue of coming back to Nigeria, the mind of Federal Government got captured and utterly inspired by Jelani’s astral performance in car design, overseas – so they made arrangement for inviting him to perform the same miracle in his ancestral country, because experience will undoubtedly elevate and promote Nigeria to rub shoulders with other sister nations in terms of car technology, remarkably.

I think, Nigeria’s decision to invite this American Auto Manufacturing Giant back to his mother land was necessary, considering the high rate of importing cars and, of course, the dearth of functional or operable car industries in the country – therefore his presence here will definitely change Nigeria’s name into Africa’s auto hub…if not world.

His appointment as the Director-General of National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), did not only induced hope in Nigerians; but also informed them of the existence of the institution. It was after his appointment I got to understand that NADDC was a government owned agency under the Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment – and is saddled with the responsibility of implementing progressive policies for the country’s auto industry. Before then, nobody knows!

Nigerians hoped to witness some series of implemented changes in the industry; have enough homemade [home assembled] cars; reduce the number of old used cars on roads and make wheels very affordable for them. But somewhere else, their dreams got murdered – and many events caught their minds off the brand new leadership of NADDC. As though, Jelani was no longer in charge. Alas!

But, two things that will never form question marks against Jelani are: he’s already made his name and had it written with GOLD abroad; his reputation is kinda international – especially with the good record he has broken, after he joined Buick Rendezvous Company back in 90s and served as the lead exterior designer of the Pontiac G6.

Jelani, also, earned HUGE respect from Nigerians – having learned that he worked on the Astra with General Motors’ Opel Division – and the exhibition of Chevrolet Volt, which was one of his most beautiful designs unveiled in 2000s – among others.

The only questions many people ask were, “has Jelani’s plans to put this industry on track being sabotaged by some elements; or he’s being changed to something else from that cavalier his parents wanted him to be?” which I am sure the former is the case – and not the latter. Jelani’s plans must have definitely been ruined by some unscrupulous elements.

Because, this is the man who came up with boxes of ideas for constituting a training academy for technical training in automotive skills in Nigeria; create a more conducive environment for the shift from vehicle importation to manufacturing in Nigeria; establishing a material test laboratory in Zaria, component test laboratory in Enugu and an emission test laboratory is in Lagos and of course, provide a fund that would enable the public to finance purchases of locally built brand new vehicles at affordable costs whether for private use or commercial fleets, through banks.

But even with the aforementioned thoughts, people have now begin to feel less pained with the situation – when they heard of Mr Jelani Aliyu’s commendable effort of unveiling Nigeria’s first locally-made electric car, Hyundai Kona through collaboration with a Stallion Group – some couple of years ago. It’s a huge development, indeed.

Personally, I was elated and delighted to be informed of this cheering development – especially when I heard that the Hyundai Kona has 5 years battery and manufacturers’ warranty; it’s 100 per cent electric; zero-emission and Hassle-free charging at home and workplace – surely that tells a lot about Nigeria’s ‘GREEN’ vision for converting our cars into electric (EVs) or non fuel-powered vehicles.

And I think, like any other leader, Jelani Aliyu needs to helped with prayers to succeed in his undertakings – and the assignment he’s given to execute. He left his comfort zone out of extreme patriotism for Nigeria, unlike hundreds of thousands of diasporas – indeed when his plans are achieved, we all will smile and celebrate our common success. May Jelani Aliyu succeed!

Muhammad Bashir is a Multimedia Professional and a Writer in Abuja, and can be reached via email:

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