Baobab Media e-chatted with Jelani Aliyu, director general of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), on what it means to be a Nigerian and how young Nigerians can build a new nation beyond the collective failure of past political leadership. Jelani impulsively shares his thoughts and longings for greater Nigeria. He holds that the individual has as much duty as the collective to ensure Nigeria works for all. We also publish his inspiring musings and poetic lines underscoring his deep faith that Nigeria has a ‘must-not-missed’ chance to be a great nation. It is upon young people to put their creativity above the limiting boundaries of tribe and religion. Imagination transcends narrowed thinking. This generation of Nigerians must learn to dream and to imagine a nation not shackled by bigotries. He shared his thoughts with Olusegun Oruame, editor at Baobab.
Young people blame their tragic circumstances on collective failure among past political leadership. How do we begin to teach today’s generation shared vision and collective responsibility in nation building?
Japan rose out of the ruins of World War II by its citizens’ pure conviction to rebuild and create an economic world power. The country did not, nor does it now, have much natural resources, what propelled it to success was that inherent human intellect that its citizens mustered to achieve the impossible, despite all odds.Yes, many things that needed to be done in the last couple of decades in Nigeria were not done, but let’s draw a line, and decide to individually and collectively move forward by focusing on progressive opportunities and solutions.
Is there truly hope for Nigeria where hope and trust amongst citizens are usually tied to those with whom we share same tribe and religion?
In the future when history is written, how is it that we would be recorded? What is it that positively defines us as Nigerians?
We are stuck in our so called reality of old cities, old infrastructure, because ironically we fail to grasp the very essence of reality itself. Because we think we are too busy, too old or too mature and pragmatic to dream. Not knowing that vision and dreams are the basis of reality and real maturity. We deny dreams, we think we are a serious people and end up with societies in shambles, our friends overseas believe in dreams, they experiment, they go in search of new discoveries, all these things that we think we are too mature, too busy, too big manly to do. And at the end of the day they surpass us: their dreams lead them to advanced successful realities, and our realities that we cling on to continue to deteriorate.
And so we must never underestimate the significance of human imagination, the ability to envision a dramatically positive and dynamic future.
How do we put a common destiny to assert the greatness of one Nigeria above narrowed interests and fractured bigotries?
It’s all in the mind. Scientifically, a nation achieves success through the collective action of individually driven citizens. Hollywood is big, video games are big, all because they lock unto our inherent emotions and sense of excitement. When America sent a man to the moon, as much as it was a scientific and technical endeavor, it was more an exhilarating psychological adventure that spurred the NASA scientists and the whole nation to an unparalleled achievement.
We have to strategize and embark on highly exciting mega projects that will move minds. We currently have no need to send a mission to Mars, but we could authentically resolve to leverage satellites, AI drones and dazzling interactive ICT to take education to every child in every village, every hamlet, and every hunting trip.
We can also resolve to leverage that same advanced interactive technology to deliver healthcare in a Star Trek fashion to every man, woman and child across the country.
We have millions of young Nigerians who are crazy about ICT, connectivity and smartphones, let us leverage on that and push the boundaries in developing systems and solutions heretofore thought impossible. It is only by discarding old technical perspectives and assumptions that we can create a sustainable future, which is actually our only hope for the very relevance of our people in the context of the new super advanced global community, which is being shaped by an exponentially evolving level of human consciousness, defining new positively enlightened human intra-species interactions and between humanity and the environment.
“WE MUST NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HUMAN IMAGINATION, THE ABILITY TO ENVISION A DRAMATICALLY POSITIVE AND DYNAMIC FUTURE.”
As an administrator in Nigeria in the last few months, do you sometimes feel that the system and people around you tend to put your power of creativity and imagination secondary to your tribe and religious faith? What does it mean to lead in Nigeria?
I believe it’s a general challenge in Nigeria, where creativity is underestimated within our borders. Every day, in Nigeria, we use and depend on multiple products, systems and concepts that were conceived and developed in other countries. We fail to understand that creativity and innovation were the impetus to these enablers of our daily lives. If we ourselves can be empowered to become part of that innovative phase we can then help develop solutions that would be the most in tune with our specific challenges, making them fit better with our culture, climate and economic structure.
THE ROARING RIVER
With energy undivided
To cut through stone and shape mountains
Was not but a trickling stream
Dedicated to gathering
And manifesting its magic.
Jelani Aliyu, MFR
LET US BE INSPIRED BY THE MAGNIFICENT RIVER:
Empower that child, those sons, daughters, neices and nephews, brothers and sisters to grow and succeed.
What collectively as a generation has been started, the next generation can be enlightened and energized to continue in a more fabulous and successful manner.
Let each generation reach higher than the ones before it.
Let the vision of a better and more successful Nigeria be the focus of our children. Let us help them believe in it so strongly that the problems now faced as a nation would pale in comparison to their resolve, intellectual and practical capabilities, and unshakeable unity.
Let them know that, YES, what Japan and other advanced nations have done, then can do also. What the Chinese and the citizens of Dubai are now doing, they can do also.
Guard their mind against negativity, and enlighten them with hope, perseverance, vision and compassion.
Jelani Aliyu, MFR,