By Louis Okoroma
The palace of the Lamido of Adamawa was agog on Sunday, the 25th of November, 2018 with people from all parts of Nigeria and abroad. Most of these people were splendidly dressed in all colours and beautiful designs that a first time visitor would instantly know that a very important and royal event was about to take place.
There were courtiers in large numbers ushering different traditional rulers, distinguished personalities from all across the country and beyond, title holders both from Adamawa Emirate and other Emirates and chiefdoms, far and near. The ceremony was the formal conferment of the prestigious traditional title of Waziri Adamawa, traditional Prime Minister of the Emirate, on no less a noble personality than Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria, 1999- 2007 and by the will of providence, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria (PDP) for the 2019 national elections!
Significantly, the turbanning ceremony coincided with the 72nd birthday anniversary of Atiku Abubakar, who was born on November 25th 1946, in the town of Jada, Adamawa State. An only child, Atiku’s father was the late Garba Atiku Abdulkadir while his beloved mother of blessed memory was Aisha Kande, after whom he named an impressive female hall of residence at the prestigious American University of Nigeria (AUN), owned by him.
Like most children, born in colonial Nigeria, Atiku was born into very modest circumstances and not with any kind of special spoon, silver or gold. The history of Atiku’s life is one of someone who fabricated his own spoon with divine favour.
Atiku as a child sold firewood to help his family, tendered flock (he was a herdsboy), worked on the farm with his parents and in better days, did holiday job under the guidance of late Malam Adamu Ciroma, one of the prominent men to come out of Northern Nigeria, and one of his early mentors.
In later years, after completing his Secondary School education and obtaining his Diploma in Law from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, he joined the Nigeria Customs and worked for twenty years and doing some farming by the side. After his voluntary retirement, he went fulltime into business, entrepreneurship and politics. He was at one time elected Governor of Adamawa State and before he could exercise the powers of the office, he was tapped as Vice President of Nigeria by former President Olusegun Obasanjo with whom he won the 1999 presidential election. Atiku became very wealthy from his business pursuits and devoted a good chunk of this wealth into philanthropy and humanitarian causes.
To get a good glimpse of the circumstances under which the former Vice President grew up in the then Adamawa province, is to quote page 7 of his Autobiography, My Life. According to the Waziri Adamawa, “as a young boy growing up in Kojoli (part of Jada local government), my parents doted on me. They tried their best to provide for me and to ensure that I grew up in a wholesome environment of love and spirituality. My father saw me as a rare gift, a child of destiny. He always prayed to Allah to protect me, guide me and to make me successful in life. I honestly believe that I owe my modest achievements in life to him. There is power in prayer, no doubt about it.’’
The quote above gives us an insight to the foundation of the life and person of the man, Atiku Abubakar who today, is the Waziri Adamawa, a former Vice President and in the minds of Nigerians, a President to be, come 2019.
The elaborate ceremony in Yola, was made possible by the conferment on Atiku Abubakar of the title of Waziri Adamawa on June 1st, 2017 at a meeting of the Adamawa Emirate Council in Yola, capital of Adamawa State, under the able leadership of the Lamido of Adamawa, Dr. Muhammadu Aliyu Musdafa.
For Atiku, as he is fondly called by all and sundry, the journey to the revered rank of Waziri has been a long one. Before now, he has been the proud and contented holder of the revered and princely title of “Turaki’’, a title which has competed and interchanged with his name Atiku for more than three decades.
In traditional Fulani society, the Turaki, is a prince who is in charge of the household matters of the Lamido and he is usually regarded as a favourite of the ruler. Thus, the holder of the title, is not a commoner or outsider but someone who has blood ties to the royal house.
It is a testimony to the staying power of this man, and divine favour, that he is around to have the title of Waziri bestowed on him having been the Turaki Adamawa for close to 35 years.
“You are fit for this position (of Waziri) because of your total loyalty and support to the development of the (Adamawa) Emirate. Since independence of Nigeria, no citizen of the Emirate had shown love and patriotism to Adamawa like you. You promoted Adamawa to the world and may Allah bless you and give you more health and long life to continue the good work”, Galadima of Adamawa, Alhaji Mustafa Aminu had eulogized the new Waziri when he led a delegation to pay homage to him.
Yola, the capital of Adamawa State and the seat of the Emirate, is a lively, bustling and academically towering town, thanks to the fame of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), founded by Atiku and located in the town. A Development University, the first of its kind in Africa, together with other tertiary institutions in the capital, either owned by the Federal or Adamawa State government, has changed the outlook and atmosphere of the town and the entire State.
The Waziri Adamawa is an enthusiastic entrepreneur, businessman, politician and philanthropist. He has put a huge population in the Emirate and beyond to work by providing them employment in the University that he built and the other businesses that he has founded in the area. The Waziri has set up agricultural farms, a beverages company and an animal feed company. Aside the desire to enrich agriculture and livestock in the Northeast region and other regions of the country, one other purpose for which reason the new Waziri ventured into animal feed business, is to provide cheap, quality and nutritious animal feed that would make open grazing by herdsmen across the country, less attractive, thereby assisting the nation to put an end to the bloody and violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
As the new Waziri starts to discharge the responsibilities attached to this important traditional political office, his admirers all over the country expect that he would give exemplary leadership to his people and the generality of Nigerians who look forward to his unveiling as Nigeria’s new President come May 29, 2019.
Louis Okoroma, a Public Affairs Analyst wrote from Abuja.