Friday, January 09, 2009

Atiku- The Story of Atiku Abubakar (Founder AUN and former VP of Nigeria)

I have just finished reading the book titled Atiku- The Story of Atiku Abubakar. It is the biography of founder of AUN who was the vice-president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, one of the books I planned to read during this holiday. His life history is really very touching. I probably felt the story much because it is one that is akin to mine in the area of background; he is born of humble background. I should probably just get an excerpt from the book for you to understand what I mean. Chapter 3 page 29 of the book is titled Atiku Goes To School.

Young Atiku was a quiet, sensitive boy who assisted his father on the farm and with the livestock. When he was old enough, he would take the animals (cows and sheep) to the fields to graze and bring them back home at sunset. He also fetched some firewood for cooking and for illumination. Kajoli, like most Nigerian villages then, had no electricity or running water. Sometimes, he would only be required to feed the animals at home with hay or supply then water to drink or potash to lick. Like every young boy in the are, these were chores he enjoyed. He was excited by the animals and enjoyed playing with them. He learned to ride horses and donkeys which his father used to transport goods to the various markets.

He spent his free time playing soccer on improvised fields with neighborhood boys… Sometimes they made bows and arrows and went hunting for birds to shoot. Every night after dinner, there would be Koranic studies. His father or any other learned person in the village would teach them. A bonfire was normally made in the middle of the family compound to provide illumination for the evening Koranic classes. Attendance was compulsory. Parents would o build spiritually foundation for their young ones through lessons.
As an only child, he was very close to his parents… Three years after Atiku started school, tragedy struck in December 1957.... Atiku was just 11 years old when he losed his father.

Young Atiku of the1950s has today grown up to become rich and very influential. He has some admirable qualities that everyone would want to emulate. As Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba, the author of his biography puts it while summarising the book in the last two paragraph of the the book (the epilogue section):

“adversity has taught him to be kind, caring and compassionate; his childhood experience as a herdsman leading the family livestock to the pasture imbued in him the value of patience; the loneliness of childhood made him a lover of people and of a large family; the tragedy of being orphaned at tan early age instilled in him the virtues of hardwork and independencd and an abiding faith in God; his 20-year career in the Customs exposed him to the larger and more complex would outside the one he knew in Southern Adamawa; and politics taught him focus, determination and the ability to understand, predict and manage people. His success in life is proof that “the Nigerian Dream” exists and that with providence and handwork one can aspire to any height in life.”

Chritics say he is too tolerant, too trusting and that he allows things to fester until they get out of hand. His admirers say that he is reliable, does not forget friends, has a large heart and that because of his own experience in life he finds it unbrearable to see people suffer. An American wife of a friend once likened Atiku to a sandalwood thatgives its frangrance to even the axe that will cut it down. But in government, Atiku will discover that it pays to have both the tenderness of a lamb and the heart of a lion.

I particularly like his forgiving nature. To be frank, I am not one who forgives easily. It is probably something I need to learn from him. I just find it hard to let go of things for instance if I get offended by someone, although it is usually very rare for me to get offfended anyway. I think I have a very wide range of tolerance. I could say I am not a soft iron but a steel because the latter takes time to get magnetised and also does not readily loss its magnetism.

One other quality I admire in Atiku is his high entrpreneurial acumen. Also, he is someone who shows a vision of a strong, sable, united, prosperous and democratic Nigeria, as Onukaba would put it. I think he is just made and not just born. Hence, Onukaba describes him as a man of destiny. Long may he live.

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