Atiku Abubakar is a Nigerian politician and businessman with a net worth of over $4 billion. Having grown up on a farm, he started his entrepreneurial efforts in his younger years and kept improving and growing even during his active years as a politician. Besides what he earned from the different political offices he occupied, Atiku Abubakar owns a farm, a transportation company, is into real estate, and more. Take a look at how he made his money.
How Atiku Abubakar’s Net Worth Accrued
As a result of his very successful businesses and investments coupled with his long-term involvement in Nigerian politics, it will not be far-fetched that Atiku Abubakar is one of the wealthiest politicians in Nigeria and Africa in general.
The 87 year old former Vice President, has been a near regular feature in the Nigerian political landscape for nearly 40 years. However, beyond his political prowess, his plethora of business ventures has contributed greatly to his net worth. Below is a list of his income streams:
- Early work as a Customs Officer
- Real Estate
Atiku Abubakar spent 20 years working in the Nigeria Customs Service. While with Customs, he rose to the position of Deputy Director – the 2nd highest position in the service. Before his retirement in April 1989, he was already in the process of setting up various business interests, including real estate, agriculture, transportation, and more.
In 1974, during his early days in civil service, Atiku Abubakar applied for and was subsequently given a loan of 31,000 Naira. This money was used to build his first house in Yola which he put up for rent. The revenue generated was used to purchase another plot where a second house was built. This quickly gave rise to more buildings and a sizeable property portfolio in Yola, Nigeria.
One of Abubakar’s most lucrative ventures was birthed while he was a Customs officer at the Apapa wharf. While there, he went into business with an Italian businessman named Gabrielle Volpi. Volpi was on a brief business trip to Nigeria and seized the opportunity to invite Atiku to set up Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics company operating within the Ports.
NICOTES subsequently became Intels Nigeria Limited which became one of Atiku’s sources of huge wealth. Atiku is known as the co-founder of Intels Nigeria Limited, an oil servicing company with vast operations in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
In 1981, Atiku procured 2,500 hectares of land near Yola, signaling his intent to expand his business concerns to agriculture. This expanse of land was used to start a maize and cotton farm. The farm wasn’t very successful as it closed down in 1986. However, the failure of the farm did not deter Atiku from further venturing into exploring other prospects in agriculture. The astute businessman spread his tentacles to buying and selling farm produce such as rice, flour, and sugar.
Abubakar’s other business interests include:
- Adama Beverages Limited – a beverage manufacturing plant in Yola
- An animal feed factory
- American University of Nigeria (AUN), etc
Scandals and Controversies Atiku Has Been Trapped In
Atiku Abubakar’s involvement in business while he was a civil servant, who was only supposed to exercise supervisory authority, resulted in a conflict of interest that was followed by many accusations of mismanagement of public funds and violation of government employment rules. However, he was quick to point out that his involvement in these businesses was limited to just ownership of shares which rules of government permitted. He further went on to state that he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of these businesses.
Unfortunately, INTELS became a regular feature in money laundering accusations leveled against Abubakar by the US government during his Vice Presidency. This only led to more speculations of shady deals the politician must have been involved in.
His Political Career Has Been Impressive
Atiku Abubakar’s journey into the political scene started back in the early 1980s when he worked behind the scenes of the governorship campaign of Bamanga Tukur, the then managing director of Nigeria’s Port Authority. His efforts included sizeable financial donations to the campaign.
Atiku later met General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters between 1976 and 1979, towards the latter years of his Customs career. He quickly became well acquainted with the elder statesman. Atiku’s newfound relationship with the General afforded him the rare privilege of attending the regular political meetings at Yar’Adua’s Lagos home. These meetings gave birth to the defunct Peoples’ Front of Nigeria (PFN). Including Atiku, other politicians such as Umar Musa Yar’Adua, Bola Tinubu, Rabid Kwankwoso, Baba Gana Kingibe, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila and Abubakar Koko were all members of the PFN.
Still bent on pursuing a political career, Atiku in 1989 was elected into the office of the National Vice-Chairman of the PFN in the months leading up to the third Nigerian Republic. More so, he won a representative seat at the 1989 Constituent Assembly which had been set up to determine a new constitution for the country. Along with some other groups, the Peoples’ Front was denied registration by the military government and was forced to merge with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the two parties deemed legitimate by the government.
Atiku would then go on to announce his Gongola State gubernatorial bid on the 1st of September 1990. However, Gongola State was later divided into two (Taraba State and Adamawa State) by the government. Atiku origins meant he was now an indigene of Adamawa State. He went on to win the SDP primaries in November 1991 but was disqualified from contesting the elections by the government.
In 1993, he lost the SDP presidential primaries to Moshood Abiola. At first, he wanted to join forces with another losing contestant to challenge Abiola but was convinced to step down by Shehu Yar’Adua on the promise of the slot of running mate to Abiola. Pressure from other SDP governors forced Abiola to go with Kingibe instead, in the June 12, 1993 elections.
The disappointment of the June 12 elections, canceled by the transition of the new military head of state, General Sani Abacha, led Abubakar to contest for the Adamawa gubernatorial seat under the United Nigeria Congress Party. However, Abacha’s death in 1998 brought the transition to an end. Abubakar promptly joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and later secured a nomination for the seat of the Governor of Adamawa State by winning the 1998 governorship elections.
A few days to his swearing-in ceremony, he accepted the position of running mate to the PDP presidential candidate, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and they went on to win the 1999 presidential election.
What is Atiku’s Highest-Earning Political Position?
On 29th May 1999, Chief Obasanjo was sworn in as the President of Nigeria with Atiku as Vice President. Abubakar’s chief responsibility during his first term in office was as the Chairman of the National Economic Council and head of the National Economic Council on Privatization. He oversaw the sale of poorly managed public enterprises.
The 2003 elections ended with the re-election of the PDP to power, with Obasanjo and Atiku as flag bearers. However, Atiku’s 2nd term in office was overshadowed by the very public feud between him and his boss over the latter’s third term agenda. The rift caused by the failed attempt at constitutional amendment led to Atiku’s departure from the PDP to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2006.
Aside from the President, Atiku Abubakar was the highest-earning politically elected official from 1999 to 2007. It is speculated that his annual basic pay was N1,938,000 which was equivalent to that of the Senate President and the Chief Justice of Nigeria. This remuneration was, however, later increased by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in 2009.