Atiku Abubakar Biography
Atiku Abubakar, a Muslim politician and businessman from Nigeria, was Olusegun Obasanjo’s vice president from 1999 to 2007.
He holds the title of the Waziri of Adamawa chieftaincy title in 2017. In the upcoming Nigeria presidential election in 2023, he is running as the PDP’s presidential candidate.
In Jada, Adamawa State, Atiku Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946. His mother was Aisha Kande, while his father Garba Abubakar was a Fulani merchant and farmer.
He was given the name Atiku Abdulqadir in honor of his paternal grandfather, who was born in Wurno, Sokoto State, but moved to Kojoli village in Jada, Adamawa State, and his maternal grandfather, Inuwa Dutse, also migrated to Jada, Adamawa State but from Dutse, Jigawa State.
- Advertisement -
When his only sister passed in infancy, his parents were left with only him.
His father drowned in 1957 when he was a little older than 10 years while trying to cross a river to Toungo, a nearby village to Jada and his mother died in 1984 of a sudden heart attack causing Atiku to be an orphan.
Despite his father’s adamant opposition to traditional schools and western education, Atiku was enrolled in school because of government interference.
He enrolled in the Adamawa Jada Primary School. He completed primary school in 1960 and was accepted into Adamawa Provincial Secondary School the following year.
He earned a grade three on the West African Senior School Certificate Examination(WAEC) and went on to graduate from secondary school in 1965.
After finishing secondary school, he briefly attended the Nigeria Police College in Kaduna before being forced to withdraw for failing to submit his O-Level Mathematics score.
In 1966, he was admitted to the School of Hygiene in Kano after brief employment as a tax officer in the regional ministry of finance.
After serving as the school’s interim student union president, he received a diploma in 1967.
On a scholarship provided by the local government, he enrolled in the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration in 1967 to pursue a Law Diploma.
He graduated from the university in 1969 and in 2021, Abubakar completed and passed his Master’s degree in International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Atiku Abubakar has been through six marriages but has only four wives due to the Muslim constraint of having only four wives as the maximum. He is blessed with twenty-eight children from each of his wives.
He explains that he wanted to expand the Abubakar family and he didn’t want his children to feel lonely as he was when he was a child due to his only sibling dying as an infant.
That is why he married more than one wife, he also said his wives are his sisters, his friends, and his advisers and they also complement one another.
He secretly married his first wife, Titilayo Albert, in 1971 in Lagos because of her family opposition and they gave birth to Fatima, Adamu, Halima, and Aminu. He later married his second wife, Ladi Yakubu, in 1979 and she gave him six children: Abba, Atiku, Zainab, Ummi-Hauwa, Maryam and Rukaiyatu.
He later divorced her to marry Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas in the 1990s and she gave him three children Abdulmalik, Zahra, and Faisal.
Princess Rukaiyatu, daughter of the Lamido of Adamawa, Aliyu Mustafa was his third wife that he married in 1983 and they gave birth to Aisha, Hadiza, Aliyu (named after her late father), Asmau, Mustafa, Laila, and Abdulsalam.
His fourth but not final wife was Fatima Shettima who he married in 1986 and their children are Amina (Meena), Mohammed and the twins Ahmed / Shehu, the twins Zainab / Aisha, and Hafsat.
Atiku and his wife Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas were recently divorced on Tuesday, 1 February 2022 due to disagreements over her prolonged stay in the United Kingdom and other long-standing issues. His latest fourth wife is a Moroccan lady with nothing known about her.
When Abubakar worked as a customs officer at the Apapa Ports, he made his most significant business decision. He was invited to establish Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics business operating inside the Ports, by Italian businessman Gabrielle Volpi in Nigeria.
Later on, NICOTES would change its name to Intels Nigeria Limited and bring Abubakar enormous money. Abubakar is one of the co-founders of Intels Nigeria Limited, a large-scale oil servicing company with activities both domestically and abroad.
The American University of Nigeria (AUN), the first private university in Sub-Saharan Africa built in the American model, is one of Atiku’s other business ventures along with the Adama Beverages Limited, a beverage manufacturing plant in Yola, and an animal feed factory that is based in Yola, Adamawa that produces animal feed.
After retiring from the university in April 1989, he started working in politics and business full-time.
Abubakar’s entrance into politics was in the early 1980s when he donated and solicited votes for the governorship campaign of Bamanga Tukur, the managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority.
Towards the end of his Customs career, he met General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the second-in-command Chief of Staff, between 1976 and 1979 who drew him into the political meetings that were happening regularly in Yar’Adua’s Lagos home.
This gave rise to the Peoples Front of Nigeria (PFN) which had politicians such as Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Bola Tinubu, Baba Gana Kingibe, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and Abubakar Koko.
In 1989, Abubakar was elected the National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria in the build-up to the Third Nigerian Republic and won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly but the People’s Front and others were denied registration by the military government which led to the merging of PFN with the government-created Social Democratic Party (SDP).
On 1 September 1990, Abubakar announced his Gongola State gubernatorial bid but a year later, before the elections could hold, Gongola State was broken up into two states, Adamawa and Taraba, by the Federal Government and Abubakar fell into the new Adamawa State where he won the SDP Primaries in November 1991 but was soon disqualified by the government from contesting the elections.
In 1993, Abubakar contested the SDP presidential primaries but didn’t emerge the winner.
Abubakar and Kingibe considered joining forces to challenge Abiola but after, Shehu Yar’Adua asked Atiku to withdraw from the campaign and Abiola promised to make Atiku his running mate.
Later, Abiola was pressured by SDP governors to select Kinigbe as his running mate in the June 12 1983 presidential election.
Abubakar expressed interest in running for the Adamawa State gubernatorial position in the United Nigeria Congress Party following the General Sani Abacha transition, but that ambition was dashed with the general’s passing.
Abubakar joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998 and later won the nomination for governor of Adamawa State, winning the December 1998 governorship elections.
However, before he could take office, he agreed to serve as General Olusegun Obasanjo’s running mate for the PDP presidential nomination, which they won in 1999, ushering in the Fourth Nigerian Republic.
They were sworn in on 29 May 1999 where his role as Chairman of the National Economic Council and head of the National Council on Privatization was to oversee the sale of hundreds of failing and improperly run public companies together with Nasir El Rufai.
They later contested again in 2003 and won a second term in office but his second term as vice president was marked by a rocky relationship with President Obasanjo and in 2006, he was involved in a bitter public battle with President Olusegun Obasanjo, which arose from the latter’s bid to amend certain provisions of the constitution to create an opportunity for a third term which failed.
This caused a crack in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) but the National Assembly ultimately suppressed the amendments which allowed Obasanjo to run for another term.
Atiku Abubakar defected to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and in 2006, he was chosen as their presidential candidate for the 2007 presidential elections preparation.
Although INEC, on 14 March 2007, disqualified his name from the list of aspirants because his name was on the list of people indicted for corruption by a Government set panel, this decision was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court on 16 March because INEC had no power to disqualify any candidate.
He later emerged as the second runner-up in the election with the winner, PDP candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, and, ANPP candidate, Muhammadu Buhari as the first runner-up which Atiku Abubakar rejected and called for its cancellation, stating it as Nigeria’s worst election ever.
He refused to attend Umaru Yar’Adua’s inauguration ceremony saying that he did not want to dignify such a hollow ritual with his presence.
Abubakar returned to the People’s Democratic Party after the 2007 elections and in October 2010 he announced his intention to contest the Presidency. But lost in January 2011 to President Jonathan.
On 2 February 2014, Abubakar left the Peoples Democratic Party again and became a founding member of the All Progressives Congress, intending to be the presidential candidate ahead of the 2015 presidential election but lost in the primaries to Muhammadu Buhari.
Abubakar announced his resignation from the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday, November 24, 2017, and on December 3, he joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He claimed that after the problems that caused him to leave the party were resolved, he decided to “return home” to the PDP.
In the presidential primaries conducted in Port Harcourt on October 7, 2018, Abubakar commenced his presidential campaign and won the PDP’s candidacy.
On 27 February 2019, Atiku lost the presidential election to reigning President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC by more than 3 million votes after defeating all other candidates to become the flag bearer of PDP. In his Supreme Court appeal, he referred to the election as the “worst in Nigeria’s history.”
Atiku Abubakar emerges PDP presidential candidate for 2023
On 28 May 2022, Atiku Abubakar emerged as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2023 election after he defeated 12 other candidates in a presidential primary held at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja.
His closest rival was Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who polled 230 to secure second place in the primary election.
Atiku Abubakar has had a successful business and political career over the years and although he had accusations against him of his involvement in business during his time as a customs officer.
He once stated that he only bought shares and the accusations of money laundering was later dismissed.