Atiku Abubakar was born on 25 November 1946 in Jada, a village which was then under the administration of the British Cameroons before becoming part of Nigeria.
He was enrolled in a traditional school system, while growing up due to his father’s opposition for western education. This ideology made his father, Mr Abubakar, spend a few days in jail until a fine was paid. At the age of eight, Atiku was enrolled in the Jada Primary School, Adamawa; he completed his primary school education in 1960; was admitted into Adamawa Provincial Secondary School in the same year, and graduated from secondary school in 1965 after he made grade three in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.
Atiku studied a short while at the Nigeria Police College in Kaduna but dropped out when he was unable to present an O-Level Mathematics result. He worked briefly as a Tax Officer in the Regional Ministry of Finance, from where he gained admission to the School of Hygiene in Kano in 1966.
He graduated with a Diploma in 1967 and enrolled for a Law Diploma at the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration, on a scholarship from the regional government. After graduation in 1969, during the Nigerian Civil War, he was employed by the Nigeria Customs Service. In 2021, Abubakar completed his Master’s degree in International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Abubakar has four wives and twenty eight children. In 1971, he secretly married Titilayo Albert. His children from her include: Fatima, Adamu, Halima and Aminu.
In 1979, he married Ladi Yakubu as his second wife. He has six children with Ladi: Abba, Atiku, Zainab, Ummi-Hauwa, Maryam and Rukaiyatu. Abubakar later divorced Ladi, allowing him to marry, as his fourth wife (the maximum permitted him as a Muslim), Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas.
In 1983, he married his third wife, Princess Rukaiyatu, daughter of the Lamido of Adamawa, Aliyu Mustafa. The children from her are: Aisha, Hadiza, Aliyu (named after her late father), Asmau, Mustafa, Laila and Abdulsalam.
In 1986, he married his fourth wife, Fatima Shettima. Her children include: Amina (Meena), Mohammed and the twins Ahmed / Shehu, the twins Zainab / Aisha, and Hafsat.
Abubakar worked in the Nigeria Customs Service for twenty years, rising to become the Deputy Director, he retired in April 1989. In 1974, he applied for and received a 31,000 naira loan to build his first house in Yola, which he put up for rent.
He used the profits from this to purchase another plot and built a second house. He continued this way, building a sizable portfolio of property in Yola, Nigeria. In 1981, he moved into agriculture, acquiring 2,500 hectares of land near Yola to start a maize and cotton farm. The business fell on hard times and closed in 1986.
Abubakar’s most important business move came while he was a Customs Officer at the Apapa Ports. Gabrielle Volpi, an Italian businessman in Nigeria, invited him to set up Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics company operating within the Ports. NICOTES would later go on to become Intels Nigeria Limited and provide immense wealth to Abubakar.
Abubakar is a co-founder of Intels Nigeria Limited, an oil servicing business with extensive operations in Nigeria and abroad. Atiku’s other business interests are centered within 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), the first American-style private university to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Atiku ran as Governor of Adamawa State in 1990, 1997 and later, in 1998, being elected before becoming Olusegun Obasanjo’s running mate during the 1999 presidential election and re-elected in 2003. However, since n 1993, Atiku Abubakar has unsuccessfully contested five times for the Office of President of Nigeria in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019.
In 1993, he contested the Social Democratic Party presidential primaries losing to Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe. He was a presidential candidate of the Action Congress in the 2007 presidential election coming in third to Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the ANPP. He contested the presidential primaries of the People’s Democratic Party during the 2011 presidential election losing out to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2014, he joined the All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2015 presidential election and contested the presidential primaries losing to Muhammadu Buhari. In 2017, he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party and was the party presidential candidate during the 2019 presidential election, again losing to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
He is currently running for presidential position under the Peoples Democratic Party for the forthcoming 2023 general election.