Atiku Abubakar is a Nigerian politician, public administrator and businessman. He is Nigeria’s former Vice President and co-founder of Intels. Atiku is the flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party in the 2019 presidential elections. He emerged after beating about a dozen other aspirants including Senate President Bukola Saraki in the PDP Presidential Primaries. He will be running on a joint ticket with former Anambra State Governor, Peter obi.
Atiku Abubakar gained prominence after serving for twenty years at the Nigeria Customs Service. He rose through the ranks to retire in April 1989 as a Deputy Director, the second highest rank at the time.
Abubakar afterwards took up politics and business full time. He was immediately sworn in as the National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria during the transition program of the then military Head of State Ibrahim Babangida. He unsuccessfully ran for the offices of Governor and President in 1990 and 1992 respectively. The two processes were coincidentally annulled by the Babangida government.
With the return of democracy, Atiku contested and Won the gubernatorial election of the newly created Adamawa State in 1998. He was however courted by his political associate, Olusegun Obasanjo to run on a joint presidential ticket. Abubakar agreed, going ahead to win the 1999 election as the Vice President.
His disapproval of his principal’s third term bid led to series of political battles. He has meanwhile declared his interest for the apex office. This has led to him being a perennial aspirant since 2003.
Birth and State of Origin
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Atiku Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946 to Kande and Garba Abubakar in Kojoli village, Jada. Jada is presently a local government area in Adamawa State. Atiku’s father was a Fulani itinerant trader and farmer. The young Atiku was named after his paternal grandfather. His grandfather meanwhile was a farmer originally from Wurno in Sokoto State.
Tribe and Religion
Atiku is a Muslim of the Sunni faith. He is a Fulani.
Early Life and Education
Like every other child, Atiku was bred in his little village. However, being the only child meant he received more parental attention than an average child. His father saw him as a “child of destiny”
Atiku’s father and grandfather were Islamic scholars. Of course they obviously gave him some Islamic teachings. However, his father was against western education. He rejected it for fear that it could corrupt his young son.
Coincidentally, this was during the mass literacy campaign of the then native authorities. His father’s opposition led to his arrest. He was charged to an Alkali court and fined 10 Shillings.
Atiku Abubakar’s maternal uncle, Kawu Ali registered him at Jada Primary School in January 1954 as Atiku Kojoli. He suddenly lost his father three years later. Nevertheless he proceeded to Senior Primary School in Jada in the same year. He graduated in 1960.
Consequently, Atiku proceeded to Adamawa Provincial Secondary School in Yola. He was admitted alongside 59 other young boys in January 1961. He graduated with a Grade Three WASC/GCE Certificate in 1965.
Afterwards, Atiku proceeded to the Nigeria Police College. He studied there briefly until he left after his poor mathematics performance did not meet the minimum requirement.
Atiku later gained admission to the school of Hygiene in Kano in 1966. Here he served as the Students Union President. He graduated with a Diploma in 1967.
Atiku moved on to the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration, on a scholarship from regional government to study Law. He enrolled to study for a diploma. He left in 1969.
Marriage and Family: Wives and Children
Atiku is married to four wives. His wives include Titilayo Albert (December 1971), Ladi Yakubu (January 1977), Princess Rukaiyatu (1983) and Fatima Shettima (1986). Abubakar later divorced Ladi, allowing him to marry Jennifer as his fourth wife (the maximum permitted him as a Muslim).
His children include
- Amina (Meena)
Abubakar’s first job was at age 15 during his school holiday. He worked with Adamu Ciroma, the then District Officer as a clerk at the Ganye Native Authority. He used his pay to buy his mother a house at Ganye. He also worked briefly as a Tax Officer at the regional Ministry of Finance after leaving the police school.
Nigeria Customs Service
Atiku got recruited into the Nigeria Customs Service just before completing his Diploma in Law programme in June 1969.
After some series of training at the Police College Ikeja and the Customs Training School in Ebute Metta in Lagos, He was posted to Idi Iroko border station.
In the course of his service, Atiku was posted in 1972 to Ikeja Airport and later to Apapa ports in Lagos. In 1975 he was posted to Ibadan and to Kano a year later.
Business/ Source of Wealth
Atiku started building his business empire right from his days at the NCS. He applied for and obtained a Federal Staff Housing Loan in 1974. The loan, which amounted to 31,000 Naira, was the equivalent of his salary for five years. Atiku Abubakar was granted a plot of land by the Gongola State Government at the Yola Government Reserved Area (GRA) where he developed property for commercial purposes. He kept plowing back his gain into the business. Soon, he had successfully built a number of property in choice areas across Northern Nigeria.
Atiku in 1981 ventured into agriculture. He acquired over 2,500 hectares of land near Yola to start a maize and cotton farm. The business fell on hard times and closed in 1986.
Intel is arguably Atiku’s most successful venture. According to him, he was approached by an Italian businessman, Gabriel Volpi to start the oil servicing firm in 1982. The Genoa, Italy-born Volpi was a director at MED Africa, a shipping company working at Apapa.
They both started the company as Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES). NICOTES was started as a logistics company operating within Nigerian ports. The company relocated later to the Federal Lighter Terminal in Port Harcourt when the business began to grow.
The company, now known as INTELS (Integrated and Logistics Services), has grown into a multi-billion Naira business providing over 15,000 jobs in Nigeria and other African countries, and paying hefty dividends to its shareholders.
This is as it has amassed enormous wealth for Atiku. In spite of his defence, Atiku’s company has been accused of many financial scandals, including money laundering.
In 1988, Atiku along with his second wife, Ladi registered a limited liability company called ABTI-ZARHAM. This was formed from the first letters of the names of their children: Abba and Atiku Jnr = ABTI and Zainab, Rukaiya, Hauwa and Maryam = ZARHAM).
Atiku and his family established ABTI Nursery and Primary School in Yola in 1992. They later set up ABTI Academy, an elite high school with boarding facilities modeled after the British public school. It was followed by ABTI-American University (now American University of Nigeria, Yola). It provides American-style university education to students.
Atiku’s interests go beyond intel. He owns a beverage company, Adama Foods, an animal feeds factory and many more.
Atiku’s political journey began with the visit of Shehu Musa Yaradua to his office. They gradually became friends im the 1980s. Abubakar was drawn by Yar’Adua into the political meetings that were now happening regularly in Yar’Adua’s Lagos home.
His first political assignment was in the early 1980s, when he worked behind-the-scenes on the governorship campaign of Bamanga Tukur.
He canvassed for votes on behalf of Tukur, and also donated to the campaign. In 1989 Abubakar was elected a National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria, the political association led by Yar’Adua, to participate in the transition programme initiated by Head of State Ibrahim Babangida. The Peoples Front of Nigeria included politicians such as Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Babalola Borishade, Bola Tinubu, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Sabo Bakin Zuwo.
Abubakar won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly, set up to decide a new constitution for Nigeria. The People’s Front was eventually denied registration by the government (none of the groups that applied was registered), and found a place within the Social Democratic Party, one of the two parties decreed into existence by the regime.
First governorship run (1990)
On 1 September 1990, Abubakar announced his Gongola State gubernatorial bid. A year later, before the elections could hold, Gongola State was broken up into two – Adamawa and Taraba States – by the Federal Government. Abubakar fell into the new Adamawa State. After the contest he won the SDP Primaries in November 1991, but was soon disqualified by government from contesting the elections.
First presidential run (1992)
A similar fate – disqualification by the military – would befall Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Abubakar’s friend and political mentor, in his 1992 bid for the presidential primary of the SDP. With no chance of contesting for the presidency, Yar’Adua decided to push Abubakar forward as the focal point of SDP’s ambitions.
Abubakar came third in the convention primary. But because MKO Abiola, the winner, had won by only about 400 votes a run-off was due. Abubakar stepped down for Abiola, asking his supporters to cast their votes for him, with an unwritten agreement that Abiola would announce Abubakar as his running mate. Abiola won the SDP ticket, and announced Babagana Kingibe, the runner-up, as his running mate.
Second governorship run (1998)
In 1998 Abubakar 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-Abubakar ticket won the 27 February 1999 presidential election with 62.78 percent of the vote.
Vice Presidency (1999–2007)
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 1999 he, alongside South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, launched the South Africa Nigeria Binational Commission.
In 2006, Abubakar was involved in a bitter public battle with his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, ostensibly arising from the latter’s bid to amend certain provisions of the constitution to take another shot at the presidency (for the third consecutive time).
In a November 2013 interview Abubakar is quoted as saying, regarding Obasanjo’s alleged attempts to justify his third term bid: “[He] informed me that ‘I left power twenty years ago, I left Mubarak in office, I left Mugabe in office, I left Eyadema in office, I left Umar Bongo, and even Paul Biya and I came back and they are still in power; and I just did eight years and you are asking me to go; why?’ And I responded to him by telling him that Nigeria is not Libya, not Egypt, not Cameroun, and not Togo; I said you must leave; even if it means both of us lose out, but you cannot stay.”
The debate and acrimony generated by the failed constitutional amendment momentarily caused a rift in the People’s Democratic Party. The Nigerian National Assembly eventually voted against any amendments allowing Obasanjo to run for another term.
The Abubakar-Obasanjo face-off damaged the personal relationship between both men.
Second presidential run (2006–2007)
On 25 November 2006 Abubakar announced that he would run for president. On 20 December 2006, he was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC).
On 14 March 2007, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the final list of 24 aspirants for 21 April presidential election. Abubakar’s name was missing from the ballot. INEC issued a statement stating that Abubakar’s name was missing because he was on a list of persons indicted for corruption by a panel set up by the government.Abubakar headed to the courts on 16 March to have his disqualification overturned.The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on 16 April that INEC had no power to disqualify candidates.
The ruling allowed Abubakar to contest the election, although there were concerns that it might not be possible to provide ballots with Abubakar’s name by 21 April, the date of the election. On 17 April, a spokesman for INEC said that Abubakar would be on the ballot.
According to official results, Abubakar took third place, behind PDP candidate Umaru Yar’Adua and ANPP candidate Muhammadu Buhari, with approximately 7% of the vote (2.6 million votes). Abubakar rejected the election results and called for its cancellation, describing it as Nigeria’s “worst election ever.”
He stated that he would not attend Umaru Yar’Adua’s inauguration on 29 May due to his view that the election was not credible, saying that he did not want to “dignify such a hollow ritual with my presence.”
Fourth presidential run (2018)
Atiku declared his candidacy under the People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria and won the presidential ticket on October 7, 2018. He won the ticket with 1, 532 delegate votes.
Third presidential run (2011]
Following the 2007 elections, Abubakar returned to the People’s Democratic Party. In October 2010 he announced his intention to contest for the Presidency. On 22 November, a Committee of Northern Elders selected him as the Northern Consensus Candidate, over former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau and Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State.
In January 2011, Abubakar contested for the Presidential ticket of his party alongside President Jonathan and Sarah Jubril, and lost the primary, garnering 805 votes to President Jonathan’s 2736.
Relationship with President Obasanjo
On 30 March 2014, Nigerian media reported that a delegation from the Northern Youth Leaders Forum visited Obasanjo at his home in Abeokuta and pleaded with him to “forgive your former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of whatever political sin or offence he might have committed against you.” In response Obasanjo is quoted as saying that “as a leader and father, I bear no grudge against anybody and if there is, I have forgiven them all.”
Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM)
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 Abubakar as a back-up plan in case he was unable to fulfill his rumoured presidential ambitions on the PDP platform. In a statement Abubakar acknowledged that the PDM was founded by his “political associates”, but that he remained a member of the PDP.
All Progressives Congress
On 2 February 2014, Abubakar left the Peoples Democratic Party to the join All Progressives Congress. According to local media reports, he will be seeking to contest for the Nigerian presidency in 2015, on the party’s platform.
On Friday, 24 November 2017, Abubakar announced his exit from the All Progressives Congress (APC), a party he helped to form.
Peoples Democratic Party
On December 3, 2017, via a Facebook Live broadcast, Abubakar announced his return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The announcement on Sunday followed consultations the former Vice President had with party leaders and stakeholders from across the country. He said he decided to ‘return home’ to the PDP now that issues which made him leave the party have been resolved.
He became the presidential flagbearer on October 7, 2018 for the People’s Democratic Party for the 2019 general election, Atiku Abubakar polled 1,532 to beat 11 other contestants. His closet rival, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state scored 693 votes.
On the 12th of October 2018, Atiku announced Peter Obi as his running mate.