…Life and politics of Atiku
Atiku Abubakar, politician, business owner and philanthropist, served as the 11th Vice President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. In 2019, he contested for president of Nigeria under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) but lost to the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari.
Atiku Abubakar (GCON) was born on 25 November 1946 to Garba Abubakar and Aisha Kande at Jada village of Adamawa State. His only sister died at a young age and that made him the only child of his parents. At a young age, Abubakar lost his father to a drowning accident in a neighboring village in 1957.
Atiku is married to four wives and is blessed with 28 children. He met his first wife, Titilayo Albert at Idi-Iroko when she was 19 years and secretly married her in December, 1971. Titilayo’s children are Fatima, Adamu, Halima and Aminu.
Thereafter, he married his second wife, Ladi Yakubu in January 1979. Ladi gave birth to Atiku, Abba, Zainab, Ummi-Hauwa, Maryam and Rukaiyatu.
Following Ladi is Princess Rukaiyatu, the daughter of late Lamido of Adamawa whom he married in 1983. Princess Rukaiyatu gave birth to Aisha, Hadiza, Aliyu, Asmau, Mustafa, Laila and Abdulsalam.
In 1986, he married his fourth wife, Fatima Shettima. She is the mother of Amina, Mohammed, two sets of twins, Ahmed and Shehu, Zainab and Aisha, and then Hafsat, her last daughter.
Afterwards, Atiku divorced Ladi Yakubu and married Jennifer Iwenjiora Doughlas, a lawyer.
At the time, Atiku’s father did not believe in modern education, so he stopped his son from attending the compulsory traditional school. However, when the government discovered Garba Abubakar’s action, he was jailed for few days before his mother-in-law was able to pay for his bail. Afterwards, Abubakar started his primary education at Jada Primary School, Adamawa at the age of eight.
Thereafter, in 1960, he proceeded to Adamawa provincial secondary school for his secondary education. He graduated in 1965 and enrolled in Nigerian Police College, Kaduna. Shortly after, he left the college to take on the position of tax official at Regional Ministry of Finance. Also, in 1966, he gained admission into the school of Hygiene, Kano and graduated with a diploma in 1967. In the same year, Atiku proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University on scholarship. There, he graduated with a diploma in law in 1969 and immediately got employed by Nigeria Customs Service.
Atiku Abubakar worked with Nigeria Customs Service for 20 years and rose to the position of a Deputy Director. He retired in 1989 to venture into business and politics. While working as a Customs Officer, Atiku started a real estate business. With a loan of N31, 000, he completed his first house in Yola and rented it out. The proceeds from his first house was used in building his second house. Today, Atiku has several properties in Yola to his name.
Atiku also ventured into Agriculture in 1981. He bought 2,500 hectares of land to start maize and cotton farm. Unfortunately, the business closed down in 1986. However, Atiku with an unrelenting attitude started the sales of rice, flour and sugar.
Atiku had a major business break when Gabrielle Volpi, an Italian businessman in Nigeria invited him to start Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics company. Meanwhile, Atiku was still a civil servant under Nigeria Customs Service. This raised accusations of conflict of interest against him because it is an offence for an active civil servant to venture into another business. However, Atiku was able to defend himself saying that he only owned part of the company’s shares and was not involved in the day-to-day running of the business. NICOTES today has been renamed INTELS.
He also own Adama Beverages Limited, a beverage producing company in Yola, a microfinance bank and several other business empires.
Abubakar worked underground during Bamanga Tukur’s governorship campaign. Bamanga Tukur was the then managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority. Thereafter, Atiku met Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who was second-in-command of the military government that ruled Nigeria between 1976 and 1979. Yar’adua thereafter invited Atiku to the political meetings that holds regularly at his home. After sometime, Abubakar became the national vice-chairman of the People Front of Nigeria. The association was led by Yar’Adua and was in charge of ensuring the success of the transition programme started by Ibrahim Babangida, the then Head of State. Other politicians in the team were Babalola Borishade, Bola Tinubu, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Aliyu Sumaila and Sabo Bakin Zuwo.
In 1989, Atiku was selected to represent his constituency at the constituent assembly, set up to form a new constitution for Nigeria. Unfortunately, the government denied the registrations of The People’s Front but they were able to find a place within the Social Democratic Party.
Atiku Abubakar Governorship Run
Atiku announced his Gongola state gubernatorial run on 1st September 1990. However, in 1991 before the election could hold, the Federal Government divided Gongola state into two – Adamawa and Taraba States. Abubakar fell into Adamawa state. Fortunately, he won the SDP primaries in November 1991 but was disqualified from contesting in the election.
In 1998, he contested as the governor of Adamawa state under People’s Democratic Party and won. However, before his swearing in, he accepted to be the running mate of PDP’s presidential candidate, Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo.
Tenure As Vice President
Atiku was sworn in as the vice president of Nigeria on 29th May 1999. He worked together with South African Deputy President, Jacob Zuma to launch South Africa Nigeria Binational Commission. In 2006, he had a clash with President Olusegun Obasanjo over his intention to amend the constitution, which will allow him to run for presidency for the third time.
This did not go down well with Atiku and the argument did more harm than good to their relationship.
Abubakar ran for Nigeria presidential office under Social Democratic Party in 1992. Eventually, he came third in the convention primaries, losing to MKO Abiola and Babagana Kinigbe.
On December 20, 2006, Action Congress (AC) selected Atiku as their presidential candidate. Thereafter, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) omitted Atiku’s name in the final list of 24 aspirants for the April 21 Presidential election. Apparently, his name was omitted because a panel set up by the government listed him among corrupt persons in Nigeria. However, Abubakar contested the action in court on March 16. At the long run, the supreme court ruled in his favour and he was able to contest.
After the election, Atiku came third, behind Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, PDP candidate and Muhammadu Buhari, ANPP candidate. He also contested for president during the 2011 elections. This time, under the PDP. However, he lost at the primaries to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
In 2018, Atiku announced his interest to contest as Nigeria President under PDP. He won the party’s nomination on October 7 at its convention. He also defeated other contestants with 1,532 votes, leading the Governor of Sokoto state Aminu Tambuwal by 839 votes. Unfortunately, he lost to President Buhari on February 27, 2019.
Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) was registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission in August 2013. The media announced that the party was formed by Atiku as Plan B if his presidential ambition was not achieved through PDP. To clear the air, he mentioned in a statement that his political associates founded the party but he was still a member of PDP.
Atiku joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) on February 2, 2014 to further pursue his presidency ambition. For reasons best known to him, he left the APC on November 24, 2017. He returned to PDP on December 3, 2017. This he made known through his facebook live broadcast.
In 2005, Atiku founded American University of Nigeria (AUN), an American standard university in Yola. Following that, he donated $750,000 to National Peace Corps Association in United State in 2012, for the purpose of funding a new initiative featuring global leaders who will discuss Peace Corps’ impact.
In August 2013, he sponsored an essay competition organised to proffer solution to the pressing educational problems in Nigeria. The participants of the essay wrote between 2,000 to 5,000 words on the topic ‘More Learning to More People: How can Nigeria be more innovative in bridging its literacy and skills gap? At the end of the essay, two winners emerged: Emeka Chigozie Ezekwesiri and Nneka Lily Nwagbo. Also, Abubakar issued scholarships to 15 escapees of
Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping
Awards And Recognitions
Adamawa’s traditional ruler, Alhaji Aliyu Mustafa made him the Turaki of Adamawa in 1982. During the 50th anniversary of the US Peace Corps in 2011, the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) honoured him with the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award.
In June 2017, Atiku was awarded a chieftaincy title of the Waziri of Adamawa, and his Turaki title was transferred to his son, Aliyu.
In addition, Hall of Grace Magazine awarded him the Hero of Democracy, following his involvement in true federalism. Atiku is an active social media user with over thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook.