Profile of Atiku Abubakar: From an only child of a father who opposed western education to a political guru
Atiku Abubakar is a Nigerian politician, businessman and philanthropist, who served as the second elected Vice-President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), with President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku Abubakar was born to an itinerant Fulani trader and farmer Garba Abubakar, and his second wife, Aisha Kande, in Jada village in what is today Adamawa State, formerly Gongola state. He was named for his paternal grandfather, Atiku Abdulkadir. An older sister died in infancy, making Atiku the only child of his parents who divorced before his father’s death by drowning in 1957. Atiku’s early years were spent in Kojoli, 30 kilometres east of Jada. His mother later remarried. She died of a heart attack in 1984.
Like many of his generation, Atiku’s father was opposed to the idea of Western education, and tried to keep Atiku out of the traditional school system. When the government discovered that Atiku was not attending mandatory schooling his father spent a few days in jail until Aisha Kande’s mother paid the fine.
At the age of eight Atiku enrolled in the Jada Primary School where he performed well. In 1960, he was admitted to the prestigious Adamawa Provincial Secondary School in Yola where he did well in English Language and Literature, struggled with Physics and Chemistry and Mathematics. He graduated with a Grade Three WASC/GCE Certificate in 1965.
While at Idi-Iroko, Atiku met nineteen-year-old Titilayo Albert, who he secretly married in December 1971, in Lagos, because her family was initially opposed to the union. On 26 October 1972, Titilayo (affectionately called ‘Titi’) delivered a baby girl they named Fatima. She later gave birth to Adamu, Halima and Aminu.
In January 1979 he married Ladi Yakubu as his second wife. “I wanted to expand the Abubakar family. I felt extremely lonely as a child. I had no brother and no sister. I did not want my children to be as lonely as I was. This is why I married more than one wife. My wives are my sisters, my friends, and my advisers and they complement one another,” Abubakar has said. He has six children with Ladi: Abba, Atiku, Zainab, Ummi-Hauwa, Maryam and Rukayatu.
In 1983 he married his third wife, Princess Rukaiyatu, daughter of the late Lamido of Adamawa. She gave birth to AIsha, Hadiza, Aliyu (named after her late father), Asmau, Mustafa, Laila and Abdulsalam. His fourth wife, Fatima Shettima, followed in 1986. Fatima gave birth to her first child Amina (Meena), Mohammed and two sets of twins Ahmed and Shehu, Zainab and Aisha then her last daughter Hafsat.
Philanthropy and education
American University of Nigeria (AUN) is the first American-styled University to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was founded in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State as ABTI American University of Nigeria (AAUN) by Atiku in 2005. He has said that having benefited from the US system of instruction as a young man, he was eager to make available in Nigeria an American trained faculty – emphasising critical thinking, small classes, student participation, problem-solving. AUN has received special recognition from Google.
In 2012 Atiku donated $750,000 to the National Peace Corps Association in the United States, “to fund a new initiative featuring global leaders who will discuss Peace Corps’s impact.” It was the largest ever individual donation in the Association’s history.
In his speeches and commentary Atiku is a vocal advocate of the importance of Nigeria’s educational system. In August 2013 he sponsored a students’ essay contest to generate solutions to Nigeria’s most pressing institutional educational challenges. Entrants were asked to write between 2,000 and 5,000 words on the topic ‘More Learning to More People: How can Nigeria be more innovative in bridging its literacy and skills gap?’.
Upon the release of the dismal results of the May–June 2014 West African Examinations Council (WAEC) results, Atiku said, in a statement:
″Our country’s educational institutions are clearly not providing quality learning. Our teachers need to be taught. This situation is a new development—of the past 10 years or so. The steady decline of education in Nigeria is a reflection of our country’s relegation of education to the background of national essentialities. That is where the change must begin. Teachers are important—as important as senators and doctors. Indeed, teachers determine the quality of senators and doctors. And so, the entire country stands to suffer the effects of this neglect in future. Nigeria must once again make education a priority. We must return to the basics.″
In a bid to alleviate the educational decadence in Northeastern Nigeria, Abubakar issued scholarship to 15 escapees of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping.
Abubakar has been active on Twitter since the 2011 elections, but stepped up his engagement in May 2013. In August 2013 he became only the second Nigerian politician to be verified, after Lagos State Governor Tunde Fashola. As at November 2015 he had more than 390,000 followers. He currently has 450,000 Facebook fans. Also in 2013 he launched a blog.
In an August 2013 post he shared his views on the role and relevance of social media to governance and democracy in Nigeria.
According to reports, he has 26 children from his five wives. In the book titled ‘Atiku – The Story Of Atiku Abubakar’, the former vice president explains why he opted for polygamy as a young man. Atiku said: “I wanted to expand the Abubakar family. I felt extremely lonely as a child. I had no brother and no sister. I did not want my children to be as lonely as I was. This is why I married more than one wife. My wives are my brothers, my sisters, my friends and my advisers and they complement one another”.
In 1998 Atiku launched a bid for the governorship of Adamawa State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party. He won the December 1998 elections, but before he could be sworn in he was tapped by the PDP’s presidential candidate, former Head of State Olusegun Obasanjo, as his vice-presidential candidate. The Obasanjo-Atiku ticket won the 27 February 1999 presidential election with 62.78 percent of the vote.
Atiku Abubakar was sworn in as Vice-President of Nigeria on 29 May 1999. He presided over the National Council on Privatization, overseeing the sale of hundreds of loss-making and poorly managed public enterprises.
In August 2013, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registered two new political parties. One of them was the Peoples Democratic Movement. Local media reports suggested that the party was formed by Atiku as a back-up plan in case he was unable to fulfill his rumoured presidential ambitions on the PDP platform. In a statement Atiku acknowledged that the PDM was founded by his “political associates”, but that he remained a member of the PDP.
He sought the presidential ticket of the APC in 2015, but lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. After that loss, the Turaki Adamawa stayed away from activities of the APC and started showing signs of warming back into the PDP.
A few days ago, Atiku Abubakar declared his intention to run for the Nigeria’s number one spot in the forthcoming 2019 general elections on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party PDP.
Awards And Honours
In 1982 Atiku was awarded the chieftaincy of the Turaki of Adamawa by Adamawa’s traditional ruler, Alhaji Aliyu Mustafa. The title had previously been reserved for the monarch’s favourite prince in the palace, as the holder is in charge of the monarch’s domestic affairs.
In 2011, while celebrating the 50th anniversary of the US Peace Corps in 2011, the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) – an independent 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organisation, separate from the Peace Corps, that serves as an alumni association for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers – honoured Atiku with the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award.
At the presentation of the award, the National Peace Corps Association described Atiku Abubakar as one individual who contributed to the development of higher education on the continent of Africa.
(Additional Resources from Wikipedia)