Atiku @ 77: Eze Presents 77 Garlands To Nigeria’s Face Of Democracy
By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
“….During the 1999 general elections, I was instrumental to his election as Governor of Adamawa State, as I mobilised both the Igbo and South-South people under the platforms of Igbo Crusaders Political Platform and South East/South-South Amalgamated Movement (SESSAM ) both of which were the products of my endeavors.
During one of his campaign meetings in Yola, I donated sports equipment and a cheque to assist him in the election…..” Chief Eze
Alh. Atiku Abubakar GCON, erstwhile Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, one time Turaki Adamawa is currently the Waziri Adamawa – (Warrior of Adamawa Emirate Council) and second in command to the Lamido Adamawa, the Traditional Ruler of the great Adamawa Emirate covering some parts of Nigeria and Cameron.
The Adamawa Emirate is a traditional state located in Fombina, an area which now roughly corresponds to areas of Adamawa State and Taraba state in Nigeria, and previously also in the three northern regions of Cameroon (Far North, North, and Adamawa), including minor Parts of Chad and the Central African Republic.
When Atiku was turbanned as the 7th Waziri of Adamawa Emirate making him the next to the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo, in the hierarchy in the emirate.
According to the Lamido of Adamawa, Mr Abubakar was honoured with the title of Waziri because of his immense contributions to the development of Nigeria, particularly Adamawa State, where his impact was felt in various sectors.
“Atiku has also contributed greatly to unifying the people of Adamawa and providing useful advice to the emirate.
“The position of Waziri, which is the highest in the council puts him in charge of administration of the emirate and is given to people who are educated, honest and God fearing.
“It’s not hereditary and can go to anyone who deserves it.”
PROF GIDADO AND THE UNBLEMISHED RECORDS OF ATIKU ABUBAKAR
I have chronicled all that need to be known about Atiku in my book yet to be published titled, “The Man Atiku Abubakar: From Obscurity To Limelight” but to espouse him better, I will refer to Prof Maxwell Gidado, one of Nigerian’s most successful and influential Constitutional Lawyer during a historical event organized by the GANYE CHIEFDOM in his honour recently, he postulated and I quote, ” ATIKU at 77, it can no longer be argued whether a man or woman is a success or a failure. For Atiku Abubakar, his life as a success is crystally clear! His success in public service, in entrepreneurship, in politics and in philanthropy has come from sheer hard work and determination. Springing from very humble circumstances in Jada, Jada LGA, Adamawa State on November 25th 1946, Atiku was bent from a young age to take his destiny in his own hands; a spirit of resilience which has seen him cap his academic accomplishments with a Master of Arts in International Relations recently from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Prof Gidado who can be described as one of most loyal disciple of Atiku went further to state, “Long and rigorous journey in search for the golden fleece which began in rural Jada Primary School a long time ago through, Adamawa Provincial Secondary School, Kano School of Hygiene, where he studied for the Royal Society of Health Diploma, and at the same time, read for “A” levels at the British Council, to the famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he earned a Diploma in Law in 1969.
It was here his interest in leadership and public service began as he took part in Student Union Politics, and was elected Assistant Secretary General and later Deputy
Speaker of the Students’ Union Government of the Ahmadu Bello University. This experience enriched his young political mind.
ATIKU’S FEATS AS A NATIONAL LEADER
Atiku joined the Nigeria Customs Service in 1969, went through the crucible of Customs and public service career; attended leadership and management courses in Finland, U.S.A and Egypt and rose to the position of Deputy Director within 20 years before his voluntary retirement in 1986.
Upon retirement, Atiku went into private business and later launched an active political career with its ups and downs, risks to personal life and those of family members till he was elected as Governor of Adamawa State and later Vice President of Nigeria in 1999. He had before then, been elected member of the National Constitutional Conference (1994 – 1995). He was a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party that governed Nigeria for sixteen years and before that, a founding member of the Peoples’ Front (PF), and Social Democratic Party (SDP) at different times.
As Vice President, Atiku was the Chairman of the National Economic Council, and oversaw the National Council on Privatization, and many other presidential committees, including the task force that admirably organized Nigeria’s hosting of the 2004 Commonwealth Summit. Atiku is widely recognized as a committed democrat and a courageous fighter against executive impunity and the militarization of national politics.
HIS PHILANTROPHY AND FEATS
A committed philanthropist, Atiku has helped communities build schools, mosques and churches across the nation, including the prestigious American University of Nigeria, Yola. He has awarded scholarships to several Nigerians and Africans to enable them obtain good quality education, and funded critical medical treatment for several of his fellow citizens. Atiku has also made major financial commitments in support of people living with disabilities as well as for the eradication of such debilitating and fatal diseases as polio and HIV / AIDS. But it is in the field of education that his philanthropy comes to the fore. He has helped almost any educational institution that approached him for assistance. His grassroots passion and humanitarian instincts have endeared Atiku to people from all nooks and crannies of Nigeria. So confident and acceptable is he to every national grouping that a columnist recently tagged him – “Mr. Nigeria”. Little wonder that Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 2013 at a book launch of the “Atiku Abubakar Cases” described him as the “Most Prepared Presidential Candidate for this Country”.
Atiku Abubakar is the veritable phoenix of our democratic future. For out of the ashes of despair, brutality, cynicism and strife of yesteryears has emerged this pillar of freedom, democracy, justice and hope. The greatness of birth is not in being blue-blooded; it is in being able to survive despite all the odds. Success is not judged only by what has been achieved but also by the obstacles surmounted to achieve it. That is Atiku Abubakar in true perspective.
A fellow of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University and General School for Diplomacy and International Relations, Switzerland – LL.D. etc. Atiku holds honorary doctorate degrees from several Nigerian Universities – amongst them are; Ahmadu Bello University, University of Maiduguri Modibbo Adama University of Technology Yola, University of Calabar, Bayero University Kano, etc. He was bestowed with Nigeria’s second highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON). He was also awarded the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award by the National Peace Corps Association of the United State of America.
HIS TRADITIONAL TITLES
Atiku holds the traditional title of Waziri Adamawa and twelve other traditional titles across Nigeria to mention just a few- namely; Zege Mule u Tiv, Zanna Santalma of Borno, Zanna Kawaskima of Yobe, Shetima of Biu, Mayobero of Lagos, Nwanne Di na Mba of Ngor-Okpala , Imo State and Enyioha Ndigbo to mention but a few.
With all that Prof. Gidado has said, it is very clear to any open minded reader that the man Atiku is truly a great gift to the nation.
EXPOSING THE TRUE NATURE OF ATIKU
Accordingly, Atiku is always one to engender innovations, a bridge builder, a tireless activist, a successful businessman, a philanthropist, a committed patriot, an authentic progressive democrat, an inspiration to his compatriots, a delight to his elders and associates, founder American University of Nigeria, a role model for today’s generation, a devoted husband and father, harbinger of consensus politics, the Waziri Adamawa, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar and the most prepared President the Federal Republic of Nigeria yet to have.
MY EXPLOITS IN THE DEFUNCT GONGOLA STATE AND GRADUATION FROM ATIKU’S POLITICAL SCHOOL
In 1989, after my graduation from the University of Calabar as a sort of punishment in the hands of the then Students Affairs Officer, Mr. P. Olowajabi, for daring to challenge him in regard to the welfare of students, I was posted to the then Gongola State.
After due consultation with God and my family, I boarded a bus from Onitsha to Yola five days before the formal opening of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp for Orientation for the 1989/90 NYSC Service Year. At the end of the Orientation, I was declared the Best Corps Member and subsequently appointed as the Corps Liaison Officer, CLO, for Yola Local Government and the Coordinating Chairman of all CLOs of the defunct Gongola State comprising the present-day Adamawa and Taraba States.
With my position as the number one corps member in the state, I formed the Gongola State Corps Members Association through which I appointed Atiku Abubakar then Head of the Customs including the then Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Murtala Nyako, Hajiya Fatima Balla Abubakar, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta (then Inspector-General of Police, IGP), and other great sons of Adamawa State as patrons and matrons.
I used this office to construct and donate the first Bus Stop in Yola town and I also donated a police traffic stand to the Gongola Police headquarters, thus becoming the first and only Corps member in Nigeria to have served the nation without collecting a dime by way of allowance, for personal use. I ploughed back all the allowances to my community through donation of books, mats, and other items, to schools and the Muslim community in Yola.
At the end of my Youth Service and on the advice of the late Lamido of Adamawa, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Aliyu Mustapha, to the then Chiroma Adamawa who is the present Lamido, I was engaged temporarily by the Gongola State Sports Council where I resigned after few months to set up Eze Continental Sports outfit which later was upgraded to Eze Continental Investment Ltd. With this business outfit, I was able to sponsor various sports competitions within both Adamawa and Taraba States. The records show that I was one of the most outstanding philanthropists within that region during my stay in that golden state which spawned a cumulative period of over 20 years.
It was during this period that I met Atiku Abubakar formally and that was immediately after his retirement from the Customs, during the Inter House Sports Competition of the Federal Government College, Yola, in which he was invited as the Special Guest of Honour in 1988.
During the 1999 general elections, I was instrumental to his election as Governor of Adamawa State, as I mobilised both the Igbo and South-South people under the platforms of Igbo Crusaders Political Platform and South East/South-South Amalgamated Movement (SESSAM ) both of which were the products of my endeavors.
During one of his campaign meetings in Yola, I donated sports equipment and a cheque to assist him in the election.
With the elevation of Atiku Abubakar from a duly elected Governor of Adamawa State to the office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the need for the formation of some national pressure groups became imperative. I was thus duly appointed as the Spokesperson for the most organised and dreaded Turaki Vanguard, a post I used to strengthen the politics of the then Turakin Adamawa and with the efforts of some other patriotic Nigerians, we were able to scuttle the third term bid of the former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo.
One account that interests me much during my tenure as the National Director in charge of Publicity and Public Administration of Turaki Vanguard was when General Olusegun Obasanjo threatened to sack Atiku as his Vice President. I issued a statement while in Lagos to exchange idea with the Lagos Press alongside Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Former present Minister of Information) who was in charge of Publicity of the then Action Congress (AC), threatening to mobilise 500,000 Nigerian youths to Abuja to occupy Aso Rock. Based on that, General Obasanjo summoned an emergency Security Council Meeting. Obasanjo’s action was based on his informed knowledge on the strength of Turaki Vanguard.
When I arrived Abuja, after the successful media outing in Lagos, I visited the residence of Atiku, where met grave silence on the spot; an unusual scenario. I was later told by Atiku’s Chief Security Officer, Mallam Mahmud, that President Obasanjo had convened an emergency Security Council Meeting which they feared might lead to Atiku’s removal from office. I laughed it off and told him the reason the Security Council meeting was being held. It was the offshoot of the statement I issued threatening to mobilise Nigerian youths to occupy Aso Rock. Immediately, CSO Mahmud left to tell Oga(Atiku) that the emergency Security Council meeting was being held because of the ‘madness’ of Chief Eze. It was then Atiku came out from his office and left for a meeting outside the Villa.
While, I was being hounded and searched for by security agencies at my Yola residence, I was at the Villa and little did they know that I was in their midst. They did not know in person who this Chief Eze was.
I became the darling of most of Nigerian newspapers.
ATIKU AND MY MOVEMENT TO RIVERS STATE
My Movement to the Garden City stemmed immediately the Action Congress Presidential Campaign Committee was disbanded. The then National Secretary of Turaki Vanguard, Hon. Lanre Fayemi, visited Port Harcourt to monitor how the governorship Campaign Team of Prince Tonye Princewill, the party’s guber candidate in Rivers state then, was being managed. Few days after, Fayemi intimated the Prince that his Campaign team was not doing enough. There, he suggested a re-jigging that would introduce some seasoned chieftains with a mastery of the political terrain who would deploy their wealth of experience towards practical application of sound strategies to achieve goals.
The party scribe told the Prince that Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze was the only Nigerian that would step into Port Harcourt and turn the heat on the PDP.
The next day, Prince Tonye Princewill flew into Abuja to meet with Atiku Abubakar then Vice President of Nigeria and the Presidential Candidate of the Action Congress on the issue of releasing “one Chief Eze” to him. Atiku laughed and asked him if he had handled fire before because according to him, the man he was requesting for was a raging inferno. Princewill assured and reassured him that he would do his best. After this, Atiku sent for me at his Aso Rock residence and asked me to move to Port Harcourt. That was in 2007.
As much as I owe a lot to Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who accepted me as a brother including Prince Tonye PRINCEWIL, the Prince of Niger Delta including many other political leaders from Rivers State, the fact remains that without Atiku Abubakar I would have not been introduced to national politics particularly the politics of Rivers State.
So please join me to celebrate this great visionary and political bulldozer who through his maverick style of leadership exposed to the world some hidden facts about most of our political leaders.
Happy birthday Dear Waziri!
Happy birthday the Face of Democracy!!
Happy Birthday the most Prepared President that Nigeria is yet to have!!!
I salute you and pray that God bless your new age, grant you greater and better years ahead.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt & can be reached either through 08022049770 or email@example.com