Recently, the internet was abuzz about the appointment of Jelani Aliyu as the Director- General of the Nigerian Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC).
The Kaduna-born car design veteran is globally renowned for his masterpiece design -- the famous Chevrolet Volt. It is no doubt that Jelani Aliyu MFR is one of the few celebrated intellectuals in the country. This is why his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, is important and well celebrated.
While his recent appointment is in fact, commendable, it reveals so much about the Nigerian automobile industry. First, it is quite perplexing that an automobile council exist in the country, and the industry isn't still glorious. It is a cause for concern that up till date, there is no considerable growth in the automobile industry. In fact, it only came into limelight when Innoson motors debuted its first made-in-Nigeria car in 2014.
Due to the economic recession and the poor (and non-existential) state of basic amenities, most car assembling plants have been forced to shut down operations in Nigeria in times past. Apparently, policies and laws that could safeguard and aid their operation and marketing strategies are not in place, thereby making the country hostile to an industry that has the potential to generate about ₦ 100billion in revenue.
Innoson motors which is undoubtedly the first automobile manufacturer in Nigeria is not without challenges as well. There are speculations that they may have suspended operations in their Nnewi plant due to the fluctuating exchange rate. While the company has refuted this claim, there is no doubt that the economy has been unfavourable to them.
Can Nigerians, therefore, expect a revamp of the automobile industry with Jelani Aliyu's knowledge, exposure and recognition? One thing we have learnt in this country is that being able is not enough, having the ground to thrive also matters a lot. So, maybe the right question is, would he gain the necessary support needed to spring innovations in the Nigerian automobile industry?
Photo Credit: AnswerAfrica