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Date Published: 05/20/10

Sokoto; the emerging good news By Emmanuel Onwubiko 


The governor of Sokoto state Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako has a beautiful middle name which rings a bell whenever it is pronounced. The middle name sounds like a melodious song. For those who are not sufficiently grounded in Hausa language, they may be wondering what this middle name of the current Sokoto state governor means. I understand that MAGATAKARDA means the chief scribe of a particular Emirate or traditional council in the North. But the melodious middle name of Governor Wammakko is not the only qualitative attribute of this gentleman. The current Sokoto state governor is also respected across the country for his love of erudition even as his large number of supporters and loyalists say that he believes in the practice of rewarding merit and excellence especially among the Sokoto state workforce which explains why he recently gave out generous car loans to the Sokoto state civil servants on very liberal terms. It is safe to conclude that Alhaji Wammako is a believer in merit, competence and ability to deliver in addition to his love for the rule of law. 

The Sokoto state governor is indeed seen as good news to the millions of citizens of that wonderful and beautiful state made up largely of people who are immensely hospitable and religious. Observers commend the Sokoto State Governor for working relentlessly to promote a regime of inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmonious relationship among the various people that reside in that State. The Governor was said to have worked round the clock to ensure that the recent religious- motivated upheavals in Plateau State did not affect the peaceful co-existence that exists among the residents of Sokoto. He once told this writer that he is at home in all parts of the Country since he traversed virtually most parts of the South East and South West during his time in the public service before he ventured into politics and successfully won election because of his immense grassroots orientation. 

But the above good news is already so well known that it is no longer breaking news. The breaking news for the purposes of this column today is the emergence on the international scene of the Sokoto state -born but United States-based Mr. Jelani Aliyu who has emerged as one of the most outstanding exterior car designers in the world even as news report has it that he recently bagged more encomiums for his prowess in creative designing of state- of- the arts automobiles.  

According to an agency report, his most recent feat was as Lead Exterior Designer on the revolutionary GM’s Chevy Volt electric car. Recently General Motors top Management had entrusted to Aliyu the role of lead exterior designer on the Pontiac G6, an assignment he accomplished creditably. 

Aliyu’s love for cars, combined with a talent for drawing, led him to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit in the USA, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Design. “Cars always fascinated me,” he says. Jelani began working at GM right after college, and spent two years in Germany working for Opel.  

He initially worked under General Motor’s Global Design chief Ed Welburn and then moved to the forward-thinking Advanced Portfolio Exploration Group (APEX), a team charged with imaging and developing bold new concept cars. Jelani now works in the Advanced Design Studio as a Senior Creative Program Designer. 

Jelani has worked on several GM vehicles, including the Oldsmobile Bravada, Buick Rendevous, and Opel Astra. 

However, the Volt has been Jelani’s favorite vehicle to work on. He explains that the Volt is most in line with his own design philosophy: to derive inspiration from nature. “The efficiency, simplicity, harmony of nature can be applied to design,” he says adding, “The Volt is a great example. It is a perfect balance of beauty and efficiency”. 

Aliyu was born in Kaduna in 1966 to parents who were originally from Sokoto city. According to his biographical profile posted on amanaonline.com, a Web portal on northern Nigeria, Aliyu attended Capital School, Sokoto, for his elementary education between 1971 and 1978.  

He later went to Federal Government College, Sokoto, for his high school education where he earned honors as the best student in Technical Drawing, the inchoate disciplinary foundation for his current genius for automotive design. 

Aliyu’s prodigious creative wizardry was first gestated and nurtured in Nigeria before it matured in America. Upon completing his secondary education, he enrolled at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study for a degree in architecture, but had to transfer to Birnin Kebbi Polytechnic where he excelled, earning an Ordinary National Diploma in architecture, in 1988 emerging the overall best graduating student in the school.  

With a scholarship from the Sokoto State Government, he proceeded to Detroit in the Midwestern U.S. State of Michigan and enrolled for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Transportation Design at the prestigious College for Creative Studies, one of the world’s 60 best design schools, according to the Bloomberg Business Week magazine. He graduated in 1994 and got hired by General Motors, the world’s second biggest car manufacturer and America’s biggest.  

Is the Imo State Governor Ikedi Ohakim reading this wonderful story of the Sokoto State born gifted man who was assisted through scholarship by his state government to study in the United States where he discovered and excelled in his vocation? I ask this question because of the bad news from Imo state that the controversial Imo state governor Ikedi Ohakim introduced a retrogressive and seemingly reprehensible job recruitment process whereby Imo state born applicants are expected to pay N2000 to pick a form before applying for the so-called ten thousand job vacancies which do not exist.   

Back to our good news from Sokoto, it is expected that the Sokoto State government under the able leadership of Governor Wammako would invite this great son of Sokoto to visit Sokoto and other parts of Nigeria to hold mentorship sessions for the teeming jobless youths of Nigeria to inspire them to believe that with hard work, honesty and resilience, they can attain their God-given vocations. 

Lastly, my attention was drawn to a biased comment by a former chief judge of the Federal Capital Territory (Dahiru Salleh) on the ongoing matter involving governor Wammako and his political opponent of the Democratic Peoples Party which is pending before the Supreme Court. I sincerely think that the former Chief Judge was wrong to have passed partisan comment over a matter in dispute between two parties in competent court of law. 

* Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria.              


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