Remarks by Atiku Abubakar GCON, former Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the Reception organized in his Honour by the Adamawa Community in Abuja, to mark his Elevation to the Position of 7th Waziri Adamawa, at the Congress Hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.
30 September, 2017.
I am really delighted to be here today with you for this celebration. I am humbled by your election to host this reception for me to mark my elevation to the positon of Waziri, the 7th Waziri Adamawa.
I sincerely thank the Lamido Adamawa and the Adamawa Emirate Council for this honour. As a little boy in Jada, who at a point, wasn’t sure whether he would be allowed to go to school, one thing I know I didn’t dream of was becoming Waziri Adamawa. But the God that we all worship has His plans for all of us. What I have done all these years is work hard at whatever position I find myself in and take advantage of opportunities that arise for self-improvement and social advancement. Along the way I have had a lot of help from a lot of people, relations, teachers, friends, colleagues, business partners and associates.
Adamawa and the North East generally have been in the news in recent years often for the wrong reason: the spate of insecurity occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency in the area. But we are more than that. We have more than one story. Our story is not just the Boko Haram story. A lot has happened in Adamawa and Adamawa people have done a lot of good over the course of the history of this country and we continue to do so. That is one of the things that give me hope even in moments of despair. Another thing that gives me hope and encouragement is the site of thousands of Adamawa children and youth who, with little help, guidance and encouragement, can rise to the highest levels of the professions and the society. People who would in the future make enormous contributions to the development of the state, the region and, indeed, the country.
Just think about it. Nigeria’s story would be incomplete without discussions of the contributions of Adamawa sons and daughters to the development of Nigeria. And they have done so in a variety of sectors of our national life. Just think of the contributions and sacrifices of such Adamawa elite as late Muhammadu Ribadu, Nigeria’s Defence Minister in the First Republic, Ahmed Joda; IGP Gambo Jimeta, Jibril Aminu, Bamanga Tukur, Mahmud Tukur, Haladu Hananiya, Murtala Nyako, Buba Marwa, late AVM Alfa, Air Marshal A. D. Bello, Air Marshal Bade, late IGP M. D. Sulaiman, late Senator Mahmud Waziri, Wakili Hassan Adamu, Nuhu Ribadu, Babachir David Lawal, and Musa Bello, just to mention a few. We even gave our President, Muhammadu Buhari, his very smart and beautiful wife, Aisha, an accomplished professional in her own right. I stress that this is certainly not an exhaustive list but just to underscore that Adamawa has produced distinguished sons and daughters who have contributed and continue to contribute to national development.
So don’t let anybody tell you that we have not contributed or that we are a basket case. We are not; and we are not defined by the current challenges. We are more than it. And we have the potential to be greater than we have been and to contribute more than we already have.
Therefore, there is a need for us to uphold and deepen this legacy by fixing our educational system and other aspects of human development. If there is one other thing that unifies the Adamawa elite it is that they obtained good education. Education helped to open doors for them in the various professions where they have distinguished themselves and in their service to our country. Education opened doors for me also. It is, therefore, imperative, in my opinion, that we should do everything possible to invest in education for the young people of our state.
There is no reason for any Adamawa child to be out of school. Let us, as a state and as a people, begin to plan our future without thinking that the federal government will be our saviour. Let us think of how we can build up our State: let us continue to encourage our State and Local Governments to repair and expand our schools, to repair our roads, and help our students to learn. The future of Adamawa State lies in the hands of its young people but we need to prepare them for that future by giving them good education so they can go out in the world and compete with the best of them. That is what produced the Adamawa elite who have not only done well for themselves but have made enormous contributions to the development of this country.
Let us also improve our agriculture by industrializing it. We need modern tools and modern methods of farming. There is no reason why we can’t be a major supplier of grains, meat, tea and coffee to the rest of the country and beyond. We have the land; we have the climate and we have the people. Developments around the world show that crude oil is soon going to become less important as an energy source. So we should, now that we still can, move away from dependence on oil and federal handouts and build an economy in the state that would be a model for the whole country. We the elite have that responsibility and we owe it to the generations coming after us.
I also implore us to fix our politics as well. We can have our political differences and political fights, but let us know when to apply the brakes to ensure that what is destined for Adamawa – be it projects, provisions or positons – are not lost because of our petty quarrels and what some call “pull-him-down syndrome.” I believe we will be remembered not by the number of people we pulled down but by the number of people we lifted up.
As we celebrate here today I implore us to continue to remember our roots. No contribution to the development of our state and our communities is too small. Little efforts and contributions add up to become huge development strides. One block at a time and on top of each other and soon you have an elegant storey building. Let us continue to give a helping hand to one another especially the younger ones so they too can rise, have hope and do well for themselves and our state and Nigeria.
So let us visit home regularly rather than staying only in Abuja and other distant places. As you know, the little money you spend during a weekend’s visit helps not just the relations and friends you directly assist but also the small shop keepers that they buy from, the butcher that they patronize, the clinic they visit to get treatment, the bricklayer and carpenter they pay to fix their homes, and so on. But if we do not visit home, that little help, with all those multiplier effects, is lost to the community and the state.
And let’s always remember that many of our brothers and sisters, including children, are still stuck in camps for internally displaced persons (IDP camps). What hurts one of us should hurt all of us. I am aware that many of us rallied and still rally to the aid of these unfortunate souls. We must not relent in our efforts to assist them until they are able to get back to normal lives and leave this terrible trauma behind.
I want to pledge to you today that I will continue to make my modest contributions to the development of our state. It is where I am from. Our parents and other elders always told us never to forget our roots. I hope I have been able to show that I have not forgotten mine. I see my elevation to the position of Waziri as a call to even greater dedication and service to our state and to humanity.
Let me pay a special tribute to the late Lamido Adamawa, Aliyu Musdafa, who as a father, not only brought me into the Adamawa Emirate Council as Turaki Adamawa but was also a source of great counsel, wisdom and guidance in addition to allowing me to marry his beautiful daughter, Rukaiyatu.
Let me once more express my profound gratitude to Dr Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, our reigning Lamido, and the Adamawa Emirate Council for extending to me the honour and privilege of being promoted to the position of Waziri Adamawa and my son, Aliyu (the grandson of Lamido Aliyu Musdafa), as Turaki Adamawa.
I sincerely thank His Excellency Governor Umaru Jibrilla Bindow for being here with us, and for the giant strides he and his government are making in infrastructural development in Adamawa State. I am particularly happy with the way those projects have been spread widely across the State in order to give every part a sense of belonging while facilitating the overall improvement of our State.
For the Adamawa Community in Abuja, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this wonderful reception in my honour. I shall forever remain grateful. And please continue to show to each other the love you show to me as demonstrated by the thought and efforts you put towards this reception. Thank you very much and may God reward each and every one of you abundantly.
I thank you all for your attention.