Atiku Abubakar is a prominent Nigerian politician and businessman who served as the vice president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. With a long and eventful political career, Atiku has run for the presidency of Nigeria multiple times. In addition to his political endeavors, he has also achieved success in the business world. This article provides a detailed overview of Atiku Abubakar’s background, political career, business ventures, personal life and many more.
Atiku Abubakar’s Background
Atiku Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946, in Jada, British Cameroon (now Jada, Adamawa State, Nigeria). His father, Garba Abubakar, was a Fulani trader and farmer, while his mother was Aisha Kande. Atiku’s early life was marked by the loss of his only sister during infancy and the death of his father in 1957. Despite his father’s opposition to Western education, Atiku managed to enroll in Jada Primary School and later attended Adamawa Provincial Secondary School, where he graduated in 1965.
Education And Career
After completing secondary school, Atiku briefly studied at the Nigeria Police College in Kaduna but left due to the lack of an O-Level Mathematics result. He then worked as a Tax Officer before gaining admission to the School of Hygiene in Kano in 1966. In 1967, he enrolled for a Law Diploma at Ahmadu Bello University and later joined the Nigeria Customs Service in 1969. Atiku worked in the Customs Service for twenty years, rising to the position of Deputy Director.
Atiku’s Political Career
Abubakar’s early political career began in the early 1980s when he worked on the governorship campaign of Bamanga Tukur. He actively campaigned for Tukur and even made financial contributions to the campaign. During this time, he also became involved in political meetings organized by General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, which eventually led to the formation of the People’s Front of Nigeria. Abubakar was elected as the National Vice-Chairman of the People’s Front and also won a seat in the 1989 Constituent Assembly, which was responsible for drafting a new constitution for Nigeria. However, the People’s Front was denied registration and merged with the Social Democratic Party. Abubakar’s bid for the governorship of Gongola State was affected by the state’s division into Adamawa and Taraba States, and he was eventually disqualified from contesting the elections. He also contested the SDP presidential primaries in 1993 but withdrew from the campaign to support Moshood Abiola, who promised to make him his running mate.
Vice President of Nigeria
Abubakar was sworn in as the Vice President of Nigeria on 29 May 1999. During his first term, he served as the Chairman of the National Economic Council and head of the National Council on Privatization, overseeing the privatization of numerous public enterprises. His second term as vice president was marked by a strained relationship with President Olusegun Obasanjo, particularly due to the controversy surrounding the Third Term Agenda, which sought to amend the constitution to allow Obasanjo to run for another term. Abubakar fell out with Obasanjo and switched parties, joining the Action Congress of Nigeria in preparation for the 2007 elections.
Presidential Election Of 2007
Abubakar announced his candidacy for the presidency in November 2006 and was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress. However, his name was initially missing from the ballot due to his inclusion on a list of persons indicted for corruption. Abubakar went to court to challenge his disqualification and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, allowing him to contest the election. He finished third in the election, behind Umaru Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari, and rejected the results, calling for its cancellation.
After the 2007 elections, Abubakar returned to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and announced his intention to contest for the presidency once again. In 2010, he was selected as the Northern Consensus Candidate by a coalition of political parties known as the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF). However, his bid for the presidency was unsuccessful as he lost to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the PDP primaries.
Following his defeat, Abubakar remained active in Nigerian politics and continued to be a prominent figure within the PDP. He played a key role in the formation of the New PDP (nPDP) in 2013, which was a faction within the PDP that later merged with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014.
Presidential Election Of 2019
In 2018, Abubakar announced his intention to run for the presidency once again, this time under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party. He emerged as the PDP’s presidential candidate after winning the party’s primaries in October 2018.
During the 2019 presidential election campaign, Abubakar focused on issues such as job creation, poverty alleviation, and improving infrastructure. He presented himself as a candidate with a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors, emphasizing his business acumen and his ability to stimulate economic growth.
Despite putting up a strong challenge, Abubakar was unable to defeat incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and lost in the election. However, he contested the results in court, alleging irregularities and calling for a rerun of the election. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the election results, affirming Buhari’s victory.
Alongside his political career, Atiku Abubakar has been involved in various business ventures. During his time as a Customs Officer, he started out in the real estate business, gradually building a significant portfolio of properties in Yola, Nigeria. In 1981, he ventured into agriculture by establishing a maize and cotton farm, which unfortunately closed in 1986. Atiku also engaged in trading, buying and selling commodities like rice, flour, and sugar. His most notable business move came through the co-founding of Intels Nigeria Limited, an oil servicing company that has brought him substantial wealth. He also owns Adama Beverages Limited and the American University of Nigeria.
Marriages And Personal Life
Atiku Abubakar has been married multiple times and has a total of four wives. His first wife was Titilayo Albert, whom he married in 1971. They had six children together before her untimely death in 1986. His second wife, Ladi Yakubu, is the daughter of a prominent Nigerian politician and businessman. Atiku married her in 1983, and they have seven children. He later married Jennifer Iwenjiora in 1993, and they have four children. His fourth wife is Fatima Shettima, whom he married in 1986, and they have four children together.
Atiku has spoken openly about his decision to have multiple wives, stating that he wanted to expand his family and prevent his children from feeling lonely, as he did growing up. He has emphasized that he treats all his wives and children equally and provides for their needs.
Criticism And Controversy
Throughout his political career, Atiku Abubakar has faced criticism and accusations of corruption and conflict of interest due to his involvement in business while holding public office. His ownership of shares in various companies, including Intels Nigeria Limited, has raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Atiku has defended himself, stating that he had divested from most of his businesses before running for the presidency and that his involvement was limited to ownership of shares, without direct involvement in day-to-day operations.
Ideology And Public Image
Atiku Abubakar is a strong advocate for True Federalism in Nigeria. He launched the True Federalism campaign in 2017 and has been delivering speeches across the country to promote the idea of restructuring the country. True Federalism, according to Abubakar, involves giving more power and control to the states. He believes that political decentralization will lead to greater accountability, as citizens are more likely to demand accountability when governments spend their tax money rather than relying solely on revenue allocation from the federal government. Abubakar argues that True Federalism will also encourage states to compete with each other, attract investments, and attract skilled workers. This idea has garnered support, particularly from the South-South and South East regions of Nigeria.
Abubakar is a vocal advocate for the importance of Nigeria’s educational system. He founded the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, Adamawa in 2005. The university follows an American-style education system, emphasizing critical thinking, small classes, and student participation. Abubakar, having benefited from the U.S. system of instruction as a young man, was eager to make a similar educational experience available in Nigeria. AUN has received special recognition from Google.
Abubakar has expressed concern about the decline in the quality of education in Nigeria. He believes that the country’s educational institutions are not providing quality learning and that teachers need to be better trained. He argues that education should be a priority and calls for a return to the basics. In a bid to address the educational challenges in the North East, Abubakar has offered scholarships to 15 escapees of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, demonstrating his commitment to improving education in the region.
Abubakar has faced allegations of corruption, particularly in relation to an international bribery scandal involving William Jefferson and one of Abubakar’s wives, Jennifer Atiku Abubakar. However, Abubakar has consistently denied these allegations. There have been rumors about his inability to visit the United States, but in January 2017, the U.S. government stated that it would need Abubakar’s consent before disclosing his immigration status. Abubakar has claimed that his visa is still being processed. In recent times, he was able to visit the United States with the assistance of Brian Ballard.
Titles and Honors
Abubakar has received several traditional titles and international honors. In 1982, he was given the chieftaincy title of Turaki of Adamawa by his future father-in-law, the traditional ruler of Adamawa, Alhaji Aliyu Mustafa. This title, previously reserved for the monarch’s favorite prince, puts Abubakar in charge of the monarch’s domestic affairs. In June 2017, he was bestowed with the chieftaincy title of Waziri of Adamawa, and his previous title of Turaki was transferred to his son, Aliyu.
Internationally, Abubakar was honored with the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) in 2011. The NPCA recognized him as an individual who has contributed to the development of higher education in Africa. Abubakar also made a significant donation of $750,000 to the NPCA in 2012, the largest individual donation in the association’s history. This donation was intended to fund a new initiative featuring global leaders discussing the impact of the Peace Corps.
Atiku Abubakar’s Net Worth And Assets
Atiku Abubakar has amassed a significant net worth estimated to be around $1.8 billion. His wealth is derived from various successful business ventures in sectors such as oil, agriculture, and telecommunications. In addition to his financial success, Atiku Abubakar also possesses valuable assets, including a luxurious personal plane, the Embraer Phenom 100, valued at $4.1 million. Furthermore, he owns a chateau worth $2.95 million located near Potomac, Maryland, in the United States.