Posted by WALE AKINOLA on
MANY Nigerians know that Vice President Atiku Abubakar is a wealthy man. They also know that he had acquired considerable wealth prior to....
MANY Nigerians know that Vice President Atiku Abubakar is a wealthy man. They also know that he had acquired considerable wealth prior to the time he became the nation’s number two man in 1999. What they may not know, however, is how Atiku made his money. The vice president gives insight into how he became a man of means in his newly published biography inside which he attributes his personal wealth to "a passion for entrepreneurship, wise investments, hard work and luck."
In his most detailed response to questions about his source of wealth, Atiku reveals in the biography, Atiku: The Story of Atiku Abubakar, that he made his money in real estate, farming, trading and oil servicing. "While building a network of powerful contacts, Atiku was also busy creating the wealth that could make him a force to be reckoned with. He recognized very early in life that he has a good nose for business", discloses the book by Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba, a close friend of Atiku since 1984.
The vice president’s foray into the real estate, the book says, began in 1974 when as a young Customs officer, he got a Federal Staff Housing Loan amounting to N31,000, which was the equivalent of his salary for five years. With this money, Atiku applied to the then Gongola State government for a plot of land at Yola Government Reserved Area (GRA) and he was given.
"He hired a foreman and began building his first house. With close personal supervision, the bungalow was completed on time and to his taste. He rented it out immediately. The up-front rent he collected was substantial enough to purchase a second plot and begin work on a second house in the same area. He completed it and rented it out again. He kept plowing the rent back into new building projects and, within a few years, Atiku had built eight houses in choice areas of Yola. He became a powerful landlord in Yola, making a lot of money annually from rent", the book reveals.
When he arrived in Kaduna in 1980, Atiku repeated the same feat and ended up with over half a dozen property in the city. In 1981, he also went into large-scale farming to augment his income from public service. He started the Gesse Derdirabe Farm on 2,500 hectares of land off Yola - Numan Road with a bank loan. He grew maize and cotton, becoming the largest maize farmer in the whole of the old Gongola State. The farm produced about 10,000 bags of maize a year.
In addition to farming, the vice president was buying and selling trailer loads of rice, sugar and flour during his spare time. He was one of the first Nigerians to venture into China, importing green tea from the communist country for sale in Nigeria.
He also went into oil servicing business. With foreign partners, he started a small oil logistics company from a container office at Apapa called the Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES). The company was later renamed Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS) with the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua as one of its directors.
The book explains that Atiku has used his wealth to fund philanthropic and political activities. He has built and equipped schools, mosques, churches and health centres and he has offered scholarships to thousands of students in Nigerian and foreign institutions as well as sponsored several people on medical treatment at home and abroad. Atiku has also assisted many people to start businesses of their own. Such generousity generated a lot of goodwill for Atiku. The new book which is the authorized and first complete biography on the vice president is a 347 page book by an author who published the biography of President Olusegun Obasanjo and who has related closely with Atiku for 22 years.