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Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar

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General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar (rtd.)

General Abdulsalami Abubakar is a lucky man, one of the few military leaders in the world to get a crown without a coup. When he was chosen by his military colleagues to step into the shoes of General Sani Abacha who had just died suddenly, mysteriously, he was not exactly a happy man. He thought of turning down the offer but he knew he could not forgive himself nor the nation forgive him. It was a call to national duty at a time of national distress.

Abacha's agenda of sit-tightism or of transmutation from military dictator to a civilian president had polarised the country and split it down the middle. The country needed a man of peace, a fence-mender, a wound-binder, a man whose ambition was not vaulting, one who would steer Nigeria away from the knife-edge of danger.

Abubakar became head of state but his family members were not beating the drums. One of his daughters cried uncontrollably for two weeks, interjecting amidst sobs, "But daddy, why you?" The answer is "Mother Fate" or looking at it another way "Lady Luck." It is fate or luck that had taken him to the pinnacle of leadership and Abubakar knew only too well that if he tempted it, he could be taken down to the valley of disgrace. So he said he would quit on May 29, 1999. Cynics may have said, "we have heard this stuff before." But Abubakar was different. He quit.

The world loves a man of honour. So Abubakar's lap of honour started immediately. Ghana gave him its highest honour, the Star Award; ECOWAS decorated him with its International Gold Medal. The America gave him the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/Push Coalition Peace Prize. He also raked home the International Globalist Award for 1999.

At home, he has not been short of goodwill. He has represented President Olusegun Obasanjo at the inauguration of the Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade and received, on behalf of Nigeria, a peace award at Durban, South Africa, a few weeks ago. During the Sharia riots Abubakar went on a trouble-shooting mission to various parts of Nigeria.

Abubakar's profile is still rising like a meteor. He had the honour of being named Chairman of the Commonwealth Eminent Observers Mission to the Parliamentary Election in Zimbabwe. Leading a 44-person disparate group from 25 countries, Abubakar carried out the assignment with distinction, fairness and a sense of history which earned him showers of praise from the observers. If Abubakar donned all these honours and medals, his chest would look like a plate of fruit salad which would certainly illuminate his grey beard and moustache. Both have been neatly trimmed to give the picture of the circle at the centre of a football field. This must be his celebration of freedom from the tyranny of military discipline.

Number two in a polygamous family of 10 children, Abubakar is clearly the most distinguished. But his own family is smaller: One wife, sic children - evenly distributed between the sexes - one of them a doctor, another a lawyer, the other an architect. The remaining three - all boys - are just boys in school. The Abubakar have a romance with the name Fati. Abubakar's mother is Fati. His wife is Fati. One of his daughters is Fati - three Fatis in one man's life.




Abdulsalami Abubakar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Abdulsalami A. Abubakar

11th Head of State of Nigeria
In office
June 9, 1998 – May 29, 1999
Preceded by Sani Abacha
Succeeded by Olusegun Obasanjo
Personal details
Born June 13, 1942 (age 69)
Minna, Niger State
Political party none (military)
Spouse(s) Fati Lami Abubakar
Children six
Alma mater Technical Institute, Kaduna
Occupation Soldier
Religion Islam
Photo credit: September 24, 1998 UN Photo of Abdulsalami Abubakar, Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar (rtd.) (born June 13, 1942) is a Nigerian general who was President of Nigeria from June 9, 1998 until May 29, 1999. He succeeded Sani Abacha upon Abacha's death. It was during Abubakar's leadership that Nigeria adopted its new constitution on May 5, 1999, which provided for multiparty elections. Abubakar transferred power to president-elect Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999.

Early life and military career

Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar hails from the Gwari ethnic group[1] and was born on June 13, 1942 in Minna, Niger State. He was educated at Native Authority Primary School in that city, the Provincial Secondary School in Bida, and finally the Technical Institute, Kaduna.[2] After this, he joined the military. Abubakar led Nigeria's contingent in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and eventually rose to the role of Chief of Defence Staff.[2] His wife's name is Fati and they have six children.[3]


Nigeria had been ruled by military leaders since Muhammadu Buhari seized power from Shehu Shagari in a 1983 coup.[4] Although democratic elections had been held in 1993, they were annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida. Reported to have had an initial reluctance to accepting the position,[3] Abubakar was sworn in as president on 9 June 1998 after the unexpected death of Abacha. He declared a weeklong period of national mourning.[2]

A few days after assuming office, Abubakar promised to hold elections within a year and transfer power to an elected president.[4] He established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), appointing former Supreme Court Justice Ephraim Akpata as chairman.[5] The INEC held a series of elections first for Local Government Areas in December 1998, then for State Assemblies and Governors, National Assemblies and finally for the President on 27 February 1999. Although efforts were made to ensure that the elections were free and fair, there were widespread irregularities that drew criticism from foreign observers.[6]

Surprising some critics of the country's military,[3] Abubakar kept his word and transferred power to elected president Obasanjo on May 29, 1999. It was during his leadership that Nigeria adopted its new constitution on May 5, 1999, which went into effect when Obasanjo became president.[4]

Later life

Following his short rule Abubakar received multiple honors, including the Rainbow/Push Coalition Peace Prize, the Economic Community of West African States International Gold Medal, and the Star Award of Ghana.[3] In 2000, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed him to try to shore up the UN Mission (MONUC) to the Congo-Kinshasa.[7]

However, Abubakar's legacy is mixed. A lecture circuit at Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois, United States featuring him encountered opposition, because he had supported Abacha's government.[8] (Abacha's administration was notorious for its human rights abuses).[8][9] He was also sued in that country by other Nigerians who claimed he was responsible for the death of 1993 president-elect Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who died in custody after being prevented by the military from taking office, and for the violation of the rights of others during his administration.


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