Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is an elder statesman, a former vice-president of Nigeria, a former high-ranking officer in the Nigerian Customs, and a wealthy philanthropist and businessman.
Born on 25th November 1946, he belongs to the family of Garba Abubakar and Aisha Kande, who were both local Fulani traders. He hails from a small village called Jada, located in the heart of Adamawa state, in Nigeria. For a long time, he was the only child of his parents. However, he currently has a very large family. He is married to four wives, and has a combined total of twenty-six children.
He is a Muslim, and currently holds the title of ‘Turakin Adamawa’.
His father, Garba Abubakar vehemently opposed Western education and thus initially denied the little Atiku an opportunity to get educated. Notwithstanding, at eight years of age, Atiku was able to attend a local school. At 14 years of age, he enrolled at the provincial secondary school in his state, and five years later, he graduated with a Grade 3 Certificate.
In 1967, he won a Scholarship to study at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He graduated with a diploma in law two years later and immediately got employed with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). After a meritorious career in the NCS that spanned two decades, he retired from active service to pursue a career in politics and business.
Atiku Abubakar’s political career started when he retired from the Nigerian Customs Service. A series of alliances got him drafted into the inner caucus of late Shehu Musa Yar’adua, who was a prominent politician at the time. Soon after, precisely in September 1990, Atiku declared his intention to contest for the governorship seat of the then Gongola state (which consisted of Adamawa and Taraba states). He emerged victorious at the party primaries, but was barred from partaking in the actual election.
Two years later, rising on the wings of his influential political godfather Shehu Yar’adua, he declared his intention to run for the seat of the presidency of the federal republic of Nigeria, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. He however lost the primaries to yoruba chieftain, Chief Moshood Abiola.
Undeterred by the loss of that opportunity, Atiku once again shifted focus to his home state, and decided to run for governorship again. This time, it was on the platform of the PDP, and he won the elections in the state. Nonetheless, he would later be chosen as running mate to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the 1999 General Elections. Obasanjo won the general elections, therefore Atiku became the vice president of Nigeria.
Atiku served as Obasanjo’s deputy for two consecutive terms, before declaring his intention to run for presidency himself in the 2007 general elections. Having dumped the PDP for the Action Congress with the hopes of actualizing his dream of becoming president, his intentions suffered a massive blow after he was indicted in a corruption scandal. The INEC initially ommitted his name from the list of presidential candidates who were qualified to contest the election, but even after the Supreme Court overruled the decision to disqualify him, he still lost the elections.
Ever since then, he has decamped from the PDP to the main opposition party and back multiple times, and his has made many people doubt his values and political integrity, and also to refer to him as a Political Nomad. Each time he decamped, he ridiculed the previous party, and each time he returned, he praised them.
In the 2015 elections, he contested for the presidential ticket of the APC but lost to current president, General Muhammadu Buhari. Against the 2019 elections again, he decamped to the PDP and is now the party’s flagbearer at the forthcoming general elections.
Atiku Abubakar is a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He has notable investments in the educational sector, food industry, oil and gas sector, banking sector and also in the real estate industry.
He is the founder and owner of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, one of the most expensive private universities in Nigeria. AUN is currently the only American University in the whole of sub-saharan Africa, and it is strongly affiliated with a number of top global institutions. As one passionate about the educational sector in Nigeria, he established AUN to set the pace for other universities in Nigeria to follow, in terms of academics, administration, and curriculum diversity. The University is located in Adamawa state.
Atiku Abubakar also established Adama Factory, a food and beverage producing company. The company specializes in the production of a wide range of beverages and juices. He is also a known agro-investor, with several agricultural investments running into hundreds of millions of naira. He owns a large cotton farm in Yola, and is also one of the largest farmers of maize in the entire state.
For each of his state-based investments, Atiku employs locals to manage them. He is the second-highest employer of labour in Adamawa state, second only to the state government.
He is one of the wealthiest politicians in Nigeria, and is reportedly worth in excess of $1.5 billion.
Atiku Abubakar is no stranger to scandals, especially those involving corruption and fraudulent activity. A number of times he has been indicted in corruption investigations, though at no point in time has he ever been arrested or arraigned before a court.
Perhaps, the most notable scandal Atiku has ever been involved in happened in the USA, approximately one decade ago. Atiku was indicted in an investigation into illegal embezzlement of funds from Nigeria into overseas accounts, and a report by the US Government was released to that effect. The report highlighted how Atiku siphoned public funds during his tenure as vice-president of Nigeria into offshore accounts, through certain overseas companies that he illegally set up for that purpose. He had an American wife during that period, a certain Jennifer Douglas, who helped to facilitate all the transactions.