Nigeria they say is full of talents, here is a story of carpenters who built a wooden car in Niger state.
Ahmed Aliyu and Umaru Usman are carpenters from Bida in Niger State. Together, they built a unique car with a wooden body called Amara, after their grandfather. Trained carpenters, they dreamt of doing something that will bring them fame. This was how they agreed on building a vehicle.
The whole concept, from the drawing board to test-drive took them seven years. They have been test-running the car for two years now. From the beginning, people laughed at them because they doubted their abilities as carpenters and because they knew they didn’t have the technical training.
Aliyu and Usman got their inspiration from different types of trucks and lorries that have wooden bodies. Presently, the frames are made of metal, but the body is made from Madobia wood “because it is strong and durable, while the engine is sourced from a used Honda CG 125 motorcycle.”
Aliyu said they sourced some material from the junk market popularly called Panteka, from where they consulted a motorcycle technician to assist in the metal work in areas “like the steering, tie rods, shock absorbers. My brother and seven other people joined us in the initial work. I cannot say exactly how much we spent, but we spent not less than three hundred thousand naira. We have the measurements to use in future constructions.”
The same people that laughed at the auto team, praised them for their determination when the work was done. “This happened when we successfully test-ran the vehicle,” Aliyu said. “We drove to Bida Local Government Secretariat to show the chairman our maiden invention, but the local government officials did not even spare time to see our car or to show support even though we are indigenes of Bida local government. And we did not take it to show the Etsu Nupe Alahji Yahaya Abubakar because he was too busy then at the Amirul Hajj then.
“We left Bida to Minna and spent seven days in the government house, but did not see the Governor to show him the car, even though a female Commissioner gave us ten thousand naira.”
He pointed out that his younger brother who was part of the assembling team had been seeking admission in Bida Polytechnic to read engineering without success.
Eventually, when they heard of the exposition organized by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology at Eagle Square, Abuja, they agreed to participate. There, the Minister Dr Obonnaya Onu welcomed them and they drove him from the ministry to Eagle Square. “He even bought the car for three million naira for it to be displayed in the ministry’s museum,” Aliyu said.
At the exposition, a long queue of people paid a hundred naira to sit in the driver’s seat and have their picture taken.
Aliyu said, “While we were driving in Maitama, Abuja, a French man stopped us and inspected the car. He asked whether the government is supporting us, when we told him no, he said if it is in his country, we would have become rich and that Nigeria should support inventors.”