I’m a proud product of Nigeria’s public school

I’m a proud product of Nigeria’s public school

On Wednesday, 16 November I was at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, as chairman of the annual Zik Lecture Series, where I delivered remarks titled “Crisis, Education and Africa’s Recovery”. The speech, as with many I have made in recent times, has been focused on the roles of government and private sector in providing world class education in Nigeria.

Here is a small part of that speech:

“I could not have gone to school if my parents were required to pay for it. That and the importance of education to nation building is the reason why I strongly believe that primary and secondary education should be free and compulsory in our country and indeed across Africa. That way every child gets to acquire basic education to help them improve their lives and help us produce an enlightened citizenry. That is how it is in the countries that we look up to as models of development.”

On Friday, 18 November I was at the AUN Academy, the secondary school I founded in 1992 (formerly ABTI Academy). While remarking on the eloquence of the head boy, I noted that I was in Unizik as well as AUN (the university I founded) a few days before, and this boy was eloquent as the students I met in both institutions. I encouraged the young man to keep up studying. My statement was clearly a compliment to the brilliance of this exceptional child.

It was surprising to me to see headlines the next day from various publications, including The Cable andBellaNaija, among many others, with headlines declaring Atiku had insulted public universities. There were quotes in the papers which were so unfairly misrepresented; I had no option but to publicly call them lies. I expected more from our press – usually, journalists would refer back to the subject of a report for comment before publication. No one contacted me or my media office. Of course the lie spreads far and wide, in spite of my denial on social media.

So there is no doubt, I am a proud product of Nigerian public schools, and would never insult the institutions which made me.

That episode was still ongoing when I saw a report from Premium Times that I blasted the president as ineffectual in the fight against Boko Haram. A very shocking report.

To clarify, here are a few experts from my remarks:

The insurgents still occupy a specific geographical space. They (Boko Haram) still retain the capacity for occasional deadly attacks. Many citizens in the zone still remain vulnerable and live in fear.

We cannot say that the problem is over until every displaced person is able to return home, to the office, to the market, to the farm, and resume normal activities. We cannot say it is over until we rebuild the schools, the churches, the hospitals, the markets, and the homes that had been destroyed. And we cannot say it’s over until the survivors of this insurgency receive the help they need, including psychological therapy to deal with the trauma that they have been through.

I visited an IDP camp on Saturday and had the privilege of teaching a math class to some children. But the site of hundreds of children running around and unable to attend school was very gut wrenching. It still breaks my heart. So we cannot say the insurgency is over until all the displaced children return to their schools.

And, as I indicated last year, it would not be enough for people to simply return to their pre-insurgency lives. We must do better than that otherwise we would only have papered over the wound without really treating it.

Looking through the remarks, I do not understand how this is a criticism of the president or anyone. Without a doubt, I am from Adamawa State, a state badly affected by the insurgency. I am a stakeholder in the welfare of the people of my state and the north east. I have been supporting the insurgency effort since the last administration, including funding local vigilante operations, which helped repel the insurgents’ attempts in various parts of the state.

Working with my charity organisation, we supported displaced people who flowed in large numbers into Yola, as the insurgency hit their homes. We still support the feeding and housing of thousands of IDPs who call Adamawa home. As one of the leading sons of Adamawa, I see this as my responsibility (although being politically active citizen, many have misconstrued my efforts as part of some grand political drama). In order to keep these events non-political, we do not invite the press to our weekly food deliveries; neither do we promote our seed and farmland distribution events for IDPs.

We do what we do, because the North East is our home. Even if the state institutions fail, we have a responsibility to stand in the gap. The reported starvation in many camps around the country is an example of what could happen if private efforts don’t fill the institutional gaps.

Many of our citizens still live in IDP camps. They are still hungry and displaced from their homes. Earlier in the year, we provided land and grains to 5,000 families, to help them resettle, but there are over 2 million people still displaced! This is why the insurgency is still a problem, and why you should be concerned.

Instead of misreporting what I said, I invite you to come and see what we are actually doing. Come and see the efforts of the men and women of Adamawa Peace Initiative, Christians and Muslims, business people and teachers, people from all parts of Nigeria, who are stakeholders in keeping the peace in the state, come and see the work they’re doing everyday to keep children in the IDP camps fed, clothed and educated.

These are the issues we should be concerned with, instead of publishing false and misleading reports.

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14 Comments on "I’m a proud product of Nigeria’s public school"

  • sirOscie says

    Our leader…..Pay No attention to detractors and keep bull dozing through all obstacles…

  • Ogwuche Andrew Thomas says

    Thanks for the clarification. Constructive criticism is what is needed to put this Nation on the wright pedestrian. Thanks.

  • Michael Babatunde Salawu says

    I still don’t believe that you were quoted out of context. Let’s assume that this clarification is an indirect apology because there isn’t any clear and just correlation between your secondary school headboy eloquence in English to his senior peers in AUN and your own private university. Eloquence is good but it is not a yard stick or good basis for intellectual comparison. Children in nursery schools can be more eloquent than your school head boy but that doesn’t mean they are more intelligent.

    As for your comment on insurgency, i completely agreed with your view.

    Thank you sir and God bless you.

  • Mr. Abdin says

    Well done Turaki for the clarifications and hopefully it will clear the air for those who thought that they can blackmail him they should go and relax.

  • saminu says

    your excellency , your comment are right , I really support ur efforts .
    bt sir to be teachings vulnerable children on the street and idps camps, sir why not establish a center or foundation aimed at enhancing the living standard of the poor Nigerian, instead of your private sch
    ools and institutions that are mainly for rich not even the middle class.
    I really pray for God to give you the strength and courage to continued your contributions to the development of northeast and Nigeria at large.
    God bless you sir.

  • Mukhtar says

    ” To clarify, here are a few EXPERTS from my remarks:”

    Please correct that. I consider that as typo. It should be EXCERPTS.

    You are one politician I respect because you have real investments in your state. Some mischief makers are always waiting for any ambiguous statement to pounce upon.

  • Sulyman Ridwan Sulyman says

    If you like hate him, if you like call him names this will never stop his endless country contributions towards the growth of this great nation.

    HE Atiku is a man to reckon it.

  • Sani Jibrin Saleem says

    I’m over excited, I wishes to be the first person to His excellency happy and hearty birthday celebrations.wish you more prosperous years ahead.
    #Abubakarheir@70

  • Public opinion is very strong these days, most people are easily swayed by these soo called opinions without the knowledge of how factual they are. I personally believe as human we all have rights to air our opinions, but i likewise think more importance should be given to those who have actually made a contribution to the society, leadership is about service. Our country has gotten to this point not by malicious opinions but by selfless service. We all need to work towards developing our community and offer support to those that genuinely do that.

  • Dear Atiku,
    (Happy birthday in arrears, by the way)
    Sounds like you’re doing quite a lot with your organisation (unfortunately, your efforts have been misconstrued as ‘political’, albeit it shouldn’t deter you).
    I’m currently doing a research in an area that require I work with charity organisations and, though I’m currently studying in the UK (International Relations, M.Sc.), my focus is actually in Nigeria (as I would love to contribute my quota, no matter how little, to help in the current situation).
    I have checked your site/page/blog and there is no means of contacting you – no email, phone number or ‘message icon’ – which is why I’m making my message public (in form of a comment to this post, although I wish it won’t be published :) )
    I would appreciate a response (my email is included in my reply).
    Best Wishes.

  • Dear Sir, in 2015, I admired you from a distance because I belonged to another political party… In 2016, I’ve come to understand you better, and see you as a messiah (not Jesus obviously), someone sent to rescue Nigerians from this comatose state we find ourselves. I’ve listened to you talk, listened to your ideas… in fact I’m almost sure that if you were suddenly in charge of Nigeria, you’ll probably already have a blue print on how you want to move Nigeria forward. I really do wish you the best and hope that when the mega party is formed, your condition for going there is that you are the only presidential candidate. Consider Donald Duke or Akpabio as your vice. I don’t know where else to send this message. My apologies that it’s on such a public platform. To fight a madman, you also need to be a madman. Pls dont do what Jonathan did. Of all the notherners, you are the strongest, pls divide the votes in the north, and youll get the rest

  • Abdulsamad yusuf sadiq says

    Well, he is undoubtedly the highest employer of labour in adamawa,only second to the state government. And also I have to say these Mr Atiku is a world renowned philantrophist well known for his heart of Gold. A wise saying goes like these “when your benefactors goes away,its it you not him who looses”. Thanks for the pedestrian bridges you are contructing along Ahmadu bello university zaria.Indeed its yet to be completed but its already saving life. keep up the good work. See your on the apex throne by 2019.

  • Campbell Onyeka says

    All hails d man of d people all hails our nxt President all Hails Atiku Abubakar with God Almighty U shall get there.

  • Sabiu Ado Musa says

    May our younger children proud with YOU (TURAKI)…..

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