The interesting life of Atiku Abubakar as vice president, father of 28 kids and presidential hopeful

Atiku Abubakar on the campaign circuit
Atiku Abubakar on the campaign circuit

One would have thought former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar would have given up on his presidential dream of leading Nigeria but the 76-year-old is making his sixth attempt come Saturday, Feb. 25.

He is representing the People’s Democratic Party. Serving as Nigeria’s second powerful man between 1999 and 2007 seems not to be enough for the northern Muslim who reckons he can attain the highest office.

Atiku Abubakar heads into the presidential election as the oldest unmatched by All Progressives Congress (APC) and ex-Lagos governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 70-years as well as the Labour Party and ex-Anambra governor Peter Obi‘s 61-years.

He is a seasoned politician with much deeper pockets and the backing of well-greased party machines.

Although the trio of Tinubu, Abubakar and Obi hug the news, some 18 presidential candidates have availed themselves to be voted as president.

Atiku Abubakar in traditional garb
Atiku Abubakar in traditional garb

Positives For Atiku Abubakar

As Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007, Abubakar was the highest-profile Muslim politician to oppose the wave of adoption of Islamic law across parts of the country’s Muslim-majority north.

He also backed opposition to a bill to amend the constitution and elongate the tenure of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo, his boss. 

Abubakar, headed the national economic council under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration responsible for Nigeria’s highest gross domestic product (GDP) increase since its civil war ended in 1970.

He has promised to tackling insecurity as well as set aside $10bn “to empower women and young men in business.”

Allegation Against Atiku Abubakar

Critics maintain Abubakar gravitates towards corrupt acts from his days as deputy chief of customs in the 1980s.

Privatization exercise in the 2000s led to national assets ending up with his cronies critics maintain.

There was the William Jefferson bribe case in 2006 where the congressman is said to have paid monies to Abubakar for contracts. This led the Federal Bureau of Investigation to raid the presidential nominee’s home in Maryland. Three years later, Jefferson was handed a 13-year sentence by a US court.

Atiku Abubakar’s 2023 Presidential Campaign

While the former vice president hails from the north and tries to keep his northern base, the relatively progressive south sees him as a liberal northerner which the more conservative north find problematic.

He has been positioning himself as the “candidate of the north” in recent rallies in the region to build bridges and assuage such concerns.

Abubakar while trying to appeal to other regions and voters, is doing all he can to win in the most populous of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones, accounting for almost a quarter of the country’s 96.2 million registered voters.

Atiku Abubakar in suit
Atiku Abubakar in suit

Abubakar, a Muslim and a Fulani named Delta’s Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate. A PDP governor and Christian, he is to amass votes in his state and elsewhere in the south apart from Tinubu’s stronghold – the southwest.

Abubakar is the likeliest of the top contenders to get the constitutionally required 25 percent of votes in two-thirds of the Nigerian states.

In the event of a run-off, supporters of Obi and Kwankwaso could see him as the lesser of two evils if their candidates do not proceed to the second round, analysts say.

The former governor of Adamawa State in 1990, 1996 and 1998 ran on various party tickets including Social Democratic Party, Action Congress People’s Democratic Party, Peoples Democratic Party, All Nigeria Peoples Party and All Progressives Congress.

Education Journey of Atiku Abubakar

After his father’s opposition to western education was overcome, Abubakar’s schools include Jada Primary School-Adamawa, Adamawa Provincial Secondary School, Nigeria Police College in Kaduna, School of Hygiene in Kano and the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration (Law Diploma).

In 2021, Abubakar successfully completed and passed his Master’s degree in International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

His work experience includes Tax Officer in the Regional Ministry of Finance and Nigeria Customs Service.

Atiku Abubakar with wife Titilayo Albert
Atiku Abubakar with wife Titilayo Albert

Marriage and Children

Atiku Abubakar was birthed to Garba Abubakar, a Fulani trader and farmer, and mother Aisha Kande in 1946 at Jada village as an only child.

Abubakar has four wives and twenty eight children, explaining he never wanted to be lonesome again.

Married Titilayo Albert in 1971. Children are Fatima, Adamu, Halima and Aminu.

Married Saadatu Ladi Yakubu in 1979 as second wife. Children are Abba, Atiku, Zainab, Ummi-Hauwa, Maryam and Rukaiyatu.

Married Princess Rukaiyatu in 1983. Children are Aisha, Hadiza, Aliyu, Asmau, Mustafa, Laila and Abdulsalam.

Married Fatima Shettima in 1986. Children include Amina (Meena), Mohammed and the twins Ahmed / Shehu, twins Zainab/Aisha, and Hafsat.

Atiku Abubakar with Moroccan wife
Atiku Abubakar with Moroccan wife

Married Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas and divorced per a Feb. 1 2022, announcement.

Atiku has divorced twice first being Ladi Yakubu. He married Barrister Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas on the heels of the Ladi divorce.  Douglas changed her name to Jamila Atiku-Abubakar whom he eventually also divorced.

Jennifer or Jamila bore three children for the political veteran namely Abdulmalik, Zahra and Faisal.

There is a Moroccan woman Atiku is involved with. The pair reportedly got married when Jennifer’s time was up.

Abubakar’s business interests include NICOTES now Intels Nigeria Limited, Adama Beverages Limited, and American University of Nigeria (AUN).

by michael eli dokosi/

Atiku and wife Princess Rukaiya and two-sons
Atiku and wife Princess Rukaiya and two-sons


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