Atiku Abubakar was just coming of age when Nigeria gained its independence in 1960. Now 76, having lived through civil war and military rule, he fears that “the younger generation of politicians who are going to succeed us are losing that pan-Nigeria philosophy – they never got exposed to other parts of the country.”
He contrasts this with his own journey. “I grew up in the north, but joined the federal service, [which] enabled me to walk in all parts of the country, mostly in the south. Because of that, I was able to build bridges, [make] friends and so on. I never knew I was going to join politics.”
His political mentor, the late Shehu Yar’Adua (Nigeria’s de facto vice president during military rule from 1976-1979), was a similarly well-travelled operator. “He was one of those Nigerians who had a proper understanding of the country,” says Atiku.
Yar’Adua’s politically active family
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