Atiku Abubakar is a Nigerian politician and businessman who served as Vice President of Nigeria under Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007. He ran for Governor of Adamawa State in 1990, 1997, and 1998, and was elected each time before becoming Olusegun Obasanjo’s running mate in the 1999 presidential election and being re-elected in 2003. Atiku Abubakar has run unsuccessfully for President of Nigeria five times: in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019, and he is currently the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the 2023 general election.
Early Life and Education
Atiku Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946, in Jada, a village under the administration of the British Cameroons, which later joined the Federation of Nigeria in the 1961 British-Cameroons referendum. Garba Abubakar, his father, was a Fulani trader and farmer, and Aisha Kande was his mother. He was named after his paternal grandfather, Atiku Abdulqadir, who was born in Wurno, Sokoto State and moved to Kojoli village in Jada, Adamawa State, and his maternal grandfather, Inuwa Dutse, who moved to Jada, Adamawa State from Dutse, Jigawa State. He became his parents’ only child when his only sister died in infancy. His father drowned while crossing a river to Toungo, a neighboring village to Jada, in 1957.
His father was opposed to Western education as a child and tried to keep Atiku Abubakar out of traditional schooling. When the government discovered that Atiku was not attending compulsory school, his father was imprisoned for a few days until Aisha Kande’s mother paid the fine. At the age of eight, Atiku enrolled in Adamawa’s Jada Primary School. After finishing primary school in 1960, he was admitted to Adamawa Provincial Secondary School that same year, along with 59 other students. He received a grade three in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and graduated from secondary school in 1965.
Atiku attended the Nigeria Police College in Kaduna for his secondary school education. When he was unable to present an O-Level Mathematics result, he left the College and briefly worked as a Tax Officer in the Regional Ministry of Finance, from which he gained admission to the Kano School of Hygiene in 1966. He received his diploma in 1967 after serving as the Interim Student Union President at the school. On a regional government scholarship, he enrolled in a Law Diploma program at Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration in 1967. During the Nigerian Civil War, he worked for the Nigeria Customs Service after graduating in 1969.
Atiku completed and passed his Master’s degree in International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, United Kingdom, in 2021.
Before returning to school, Atiku Abubakar worked briefly as a Tax Officer in the Regional Ministry of Finance; after graduation, he was employed in the Nigeria Customs Service, where he rose to become the Deputy Director, the second highest position in the Service; he retired in April 1989 and pursued full-time business and politics.
He was accused of having a conflict of interest due to his involvement in business while serving as a civil servant with supervisory authority. Abubakar, for his part, defended the decision by claiming that his involvement was limited to the ownership of shares (as permitted by government rules) and that he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. His company, NICOTES, was later rebranded as INTELS and played a prominent role in allegations of money laundering leveled against Abubakar by the US government during his vice presidency.
His foray into real estate began in 1974, when he received a 31,000 naira loan to construct his first house in Yola, which he rented out. He bought another plot and built a second house with the rent money. He continued in this manner, amassing a sizable property portfolio in Yola, Nigeria. He ventured into agriculture in 1981, purchasing 2,500 hectares of land near Yola to establish a maize and cotton farm. The company ran into financial difficulties and closed in 1986. He then began trading, purchasing and selling truckloads of rice, flour, and sugar.
Abubakar’s most significant business move occurred while he was working as a Customs Officer at Apapa Ports. Gabrielle Volpi, an Italian businessman in Nigeria, invited him to establish Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics company based in the ports. NICOTES would later become Intels Nigeria Limited, providing Abubakar with enormous wealth. He is a co-founder of Intels Nigeria Limited, an oil service company with operations both in Nigeria and abroad. Atiku’s other business interests are centered in Yola, Adamawa, and include the Adama Beverages Limited, a beverage manufacturing plant in Yola, an animal feed factory, and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Sub-Saharan Africa’s first American-style private university. He retired in April 1989 and took up full-time business and politics.
During Bamanga Tukur’s campaign for Governor of his State, Atiku Abubakar began his political career as an undercover agent. Following that, he met Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who invited him to a political meeting held in his home. Soon after, he maneuvered his way to become the national vice-chairman of the People Front of Nigeria. After holding several positions within his political party, he attempted to become Governor of Adamawa State in 1991, but failed. He later crossed over to the People’s Democratic Party, where he rose to become the Governor of Adamawa state.
On May 29, 1999, Atiku Abubakar was sworn in as Nigeria’s vice president, succeeding President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2006, Abubakar and his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, clashed over his proposal to amend the country’s constitution. According to reports, Obasanjo’s motivation for amending the Constitution is to allow him to run for president for the third time. This caused major havoc between them, and they became enemies.
In the same vein, Atiku Abubakar’s presidential campaign continues, as he ran for president in the 2011 general elections, this time as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. Unfortunately, he was defeated in the primaries by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. In order to realize his ambition, he defected to the All Progressive Congress in 2014, but he was defeated by Muhammed Buhari, the current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
On his ambition to become President, Atiku Abubakar announced his intention to run for President of Nigeria under the auspices of the PDP in 2018. However, he was elected at the party’s convention on October 7th. He accomplished this despite spending a large sum of money on delegates. However, On the 27th of February, 2019, Atiku Abubakar lost the presidential election to President Muhammadu Buhari for the second time. He would also be a candidate for President in 2023.
Atiku Abubakar has four marriages and twenty-eight children. “I wanted to add to the Abubakar clan,” he says. I was extremely lonely as a child. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. I didn’t want my children to be as lonely as I was. This is why I had several wives. My wives are my sisters, friends, and advisers, and they complement one another.”
He secretly married Titilayo Albert when she was 19 years old in Lagos in 1971, but her family was initially opposed to the union. He married Ladi Yakubu as his second wife in 1979, and they have six children. After Divorcing Ladi Yakubu, Atiku Abubakar married Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas as his fourth wife.
In 1983, he married Princess Rukaiyatu, the daughter of Adamawa’s Lamido, Aliyu Mustafa. In 1986, he married his fourth wife, Fatima Shettima.
Along with William Jefferson and one of Atiku’s wives, Jennifer Atiku Abubakar, Atiku was implicated in an international bribery scandal. Following pundits’ claims that Atiku was unable to visit the United States of America, the US government issued a statement in January 2017 stating that it would require the politician’s consent before disclosing the true state of his immigration status to the US. The true reason, according to Abubakar, is that his visa is still being processed. However, Atiku, along with Bukola Saraki, recently visited the United States with the assistance of Brian Ballard on January 17, 2019.
Another controversy involving Atiku was the accusation made by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He stated that Atiku is extremely corrupt as a result of his actions while in charge of the sale of the country’s national assets and as the chairman of the National Economic Council.
It was also reported that one of his wives, Jennifer Atiku Abubakar, divorced him as a result of his request that she sell their properties in the United States of America and relocate to Nigeria. She divorced him and sought custody of their children.
Titles and Honours
Abubakar was appointed Turaki of Adamawa by his future father-in-law, Adamawa’s traditional ruler Alhaji Aliyu Mustafa, in 1982. The title was previously reserved in the palace for the monarch’s favorite prince, as the holder is in charge of the monarch’s domestic affairs. Abubakar was given the chieftaincy title of Waziri of Adamawa in June 2017, and his previous title of Turaki was transferred to his son Aliyu.
The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), an independent nonprofit organization separate from the Peace Corps that serves as an alumni association for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, honored Abubakar with the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award in 2011, as the US Peace Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary. In 2012, Abubakar gave $750,000 to the National Peace Corps Association in the United States to “fund a new initiative featuring global leaders who will discuss the impact of Peace Corps.” It was the largest single contribution in the Association’s history.
Atiku Abubakar is worth $1.8 billion and possesses numerous valuable assets. He owns a US$4.1 million Embraer Phenom 100 personal luxury plane and a US$2.95 million chateau near Potomac, Maryland, in the United States. He owns a Range Rover, a Mercedes S550, a Lexus 570, a Toyota Land Cruiser, and other luxury vehicles.