Nigeria 2023: Atiku’s wealth, rise to popularity, and network of billionaire allies

By Eniola Akinkuotu
Posted on Monday, 10 October 2022 18:14, updated on Wednesday, 23 November 2022 12:27

Nigeria's Atiku Abubakar, in Lagos, Nigeria January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has had a long and notable career in Nigerian politics. As he makes his 6th attempt at the presidency, a venture he’s set out to achieve since 1992, we look back at his rise to politics, from a villager to a well-known household name.

On 19 November 1982, over 40 aeroplanes carrying VIPs and well-wishers touched down in the sleepy town of Yola to honour two men: a federal minister and an obscure 36-year-old customs officer, both of whom were being installed with traditional titles by the Lamido of Adamawa, one of the most influential kings in Northern Nigeria.

This 36-year-old customs officer named Atiku Abubakar had left the town as a mere village boy and joined the customs service in 1969. However, within just 13 years, he had become one of the most senior customs officers in the country and was being named the ‘Turaki Adamawa’, a traditional title that had hitherto been exclusively reserved for princes.