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Atiku Abubakar Life History

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Taiye Law ATIKU ABUBAKAR (Turakin Adamawa), GCON, Vice-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Born in Jada, a town in present day Adamawa state, in North Eastern part of Nigeria, on November 25, 1946. He became an orphan at the age of eight and through perseverance and hard work overcame the poverty and nonchalant attitude of his relatives to acquire education. Atiku enrolled into the Jada Primary School from 1954 to 1960. He later proceeded to Adamawa Provincial Secondary School, Yola, from 1961 to 1965. He studied Economics, British Economic History, Government and Hausa Language at the Yola Middle School before proceeding to the Kano School of Hygiene, where he acquired a Diploma of the Royal Society of Health. He moved to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1967, to study for a Diploma in Law. It was in the last two schools that he had his first taste of politics, when he took part in the radical student union politics of the 1960s, serving as President Emeritus of the Student's Union of the School of Hygiene, Kano, and later as the Assistant Secretary General of the Ahmadu Bello University Students Union, as well as Deputy Speaker of the Students parliament. In 1969, Atiku Abubakar enlisted into the Nigerian Customs and Excise service, where he served for 20 years, retiring in 1989 at the rank of Deputy Director. In retirement, Atiku Abubakar went into private business, developing investments in oil services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and the print media. He was chairman of seven companies before his election as Vice-President. His political career proper began in the late 1980s at the advent of the Fourth Republic, when retired General Shehu Musa Yar'adua launched a novel political association, People's Front of Nigeria (PFN). Shehu had retired as Deputy Head of State and Chief of Staff Supreme Headquaters in 1979, when he and Olusegun Obasanjo handed over power to civilians. The thought, planning and solid programmes packaged with the movement easily made it the most formidable machine in Nigeria. Alas, General Ibrahim Babangida's cabal of military officers drawn from both north and south wanted to "rule Nigeria" forever. Their contrived transition to civil rule program refused to register genuine political parties. Rather, the military government "created" two parties for Nigeria: left-of-centre Social democratic Party (SDP) and right-of-centre National Republican Convention (NRC). Atiku was party to the decision to "re-locate" the PFN into the SDP, ensuring their total control of the party, in the belief that the soldiers were sincere in their promise to handover power. After scouring and touring every part of the federation, Atiku was there to see the emergence of Shehu Yar'adua as the SDP presidential candidate. However, General Babangida, ostensibly bowing to pressure from short-sighted civilian and military power-hungry leaders cancelled the primaries and disqualified the two candidates. The NRC candidate was Adamu Chiroma, the incumbent Minister of finance in Atikus government. Undaunted, Shehu Yar'adua and his colleagues, determined to ease the military out of power, took all in their stride. In a re-run of the primaries, Abubakar Atiku as a candidate of Yar'adua narrowly missed being nominated the running mate of Chief M K O Abiola, who came to be backed by the PFN caucus. With the cancellation of Abiola's incipient victory at the polls in 1992, Atiku with his mentor continued the struggle to save Nigeria from the power greed of soldiers. Defence minister, General Sani Abacha, later overthrew the resultant Interim National Government (ING). Abacha waged a relentless campaign against Nigerians and their leaders, resulting in the false imprisonment and jailing of Shehu Yar'adua and Olusegun Obasanjo. Again, Abacha's transition program refused to register the Lawal Kaita/Atiku led People's Democratic Movement (PDM). Instead the military sponsored surrogates to set up five "acceptable" parties. All five endorsed Abacha as sole presidential candidate. Yar'adua died under

inhumane prison conditions while Atiku was forced to go underground as agents of the junta hunted him from state to state. Atiku, even while hiding, was part of the G18 pressure group, which later became G34 movement that spearheaded opposition to General Abacha's self-succession bid. The death of Abacha in 1988 brought to power the reformist General Abubakar Abdulsalami, who vowed to handover power 29 May, 1999. Thus in the course of amalgamating different political groupings into political parties, Abubakar Atiku led the old PFN into what later metamorphosed as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His group also drafted in Obasanjo and gave him the machinery at the grassroots not only to win the party primaries but the presidential elections as well. Atiku himself made a second attempt to become the governor of Adamawa state and this time, as a PDP candidate, he was elected. It is came as a surprise to Atiku shortly after that, when Obasanjo sent for him, following his emergence as the PDP flagbearer, in the heat of lobbying by many candidates for the vice-presidential slot. "Turaki, are you prepared to take orders from me?" he asked Atiku, calling him by the traditional title in his native Adamawa state. "Ah, I have always taken instructions from you, sir" Atiku replied, "because you are a general." "Okay you are my vice-president", Obasanjo told the stunned Atiku, "go and break the news to the party leaders!"

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