Atiku With Family of Song
 Recently, the media was awash with reports of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s visit to two of his childhood friends in Song, a visit that brought back old memories of their growing up days.Daji Sani later embarked on  a trip from Yola to Song where he encountered the two friends who took him down the memory lane

The journey to Song town, headquarters of Song Local Government Area of  Adamawa State, in embattled North Eastern corridor of Nigeria, is not after all a walk in the valley of death. But the two hours road trip from Yola, the state capital to Song was paved with heavy security checkpoints manned by fierce-looking combatant soldiers -a tangible reminder of the sad tale that terrorism has been telling our nation.
Our mission to Song was to tap and scoop exclusives from the fountain of wisdom of old classmates and political allies of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who he visited recently in Song. However the two prominent and illustrious sons of Song visited extolled  Atiku’s lifestyle and his past life.  They described Atiku as a life-saver, team building “Bulldozer” and a “humble leader that Nigeria need in this generation.”
Ayuba Musa Mamawa, 70, a former commissioner in Adamawa State and one of Atiku’s childhood friends and classmate told THISDAY that he knew the former VP as far back as 1958 at Jada senior primary school. “I met him in 1958 when I attended Jada Senior Primary School. The Turaki and I were classmates but we only spent three months together in Jada before I was transferred out. But we met again in the Provincial School in Yola and we were there from 1961 to 1965 till we finally graduated”. 
He said they were 40 friends in their group and he and Atiku were closer adding  that Atiku later joined the Nigerian Customs Service while he went to Kano to pursue further education. He said they didn’t  meet for long time, until Atiku came for a condolence visit for the death of one of our community leaders, Katuka. And recently  he paid him a surprise visit in his house in Song.
“He heard I was ill and he came down here, not minding his exalted position and tight schedule. He left everything in the city to visit me in this my small house. He even had lunch with my family and supported me financially. I thanked him and I pray that God would reward him abundantly for this his kindness. May God give Atiku what he wants in life “ he said 
Mamawa said when they were growing up  he never expected him to be  this influential and rich but God’s destiny for man is unchangeable as he further added that Atiku had some leadership traits as a youngster, such as his comportment and carried himself socially; He explained that despite the fact that he was an average student, he was always fond of people and it was hard to see him alone. He always mixed freely and made people laugh. It was difficult to be sad while with Atiku.
“ The way he acted,  out spoken and  his neat appearance – all spoke volumes about the character of the latter day Turaki. He was a great team player and protector of his colleagues. In fact we called him  Bulldozer, for his bravery but a very humble chap who loved to carry people along.  His classmates and other students were always around him because he possessed a charisma that attracted people to him. We were always playing football; very small improvised thing made of plastic products. We played at the school premises with other boys.  It wasn’t an organized soccer game. But a mere child’s play of kick and run routine.”
He described  Atiku as a socialite that other people would naturally  like to flock around him saying that the reason for this is not farfetched because Atiku has a unique style of doing things. “Atiku chose to like people around him and always want to assist others. He loves people; especially the poor ones. He always sits with them, and encourages them. At times, engage them in debates over vital issues of community development”.
“Atiku is modest, honest, kind, people-minded and also very bold. He has all the high attributes of a great leadership. He always wants to see people faring well. For instance, look at all the developmental projects and businesses he has established in Adamawa and all over Nigeria, and elsewhere in Africa. He did most of them not because of personal monetary gains, but he loves to create job opportunities for others. He has employed more than 2000 people. If every wealthy Nigerian emulates Atiku, by investing locally, there wouldn’t be poverty in the country.
“Atiku is confident, helpful and fearless. He is well-focused and knows what he wants to achieve. As a young person he was defensive and protective of his colleagues. Of recent, he came to the rescue of the entire Adamawa State when we were almost overrun by some bad boys. He personally took it upon himself to see that the situation ameliorated and the anomaly corrected” he said.
Handicapped Community Leader, Alhaji Mamuda Aliyu Song, a political associate of Atiku, not only revealed his (Atiku) political background and  also how the VP saved his life. Aliyu Song who is presently on a wheel chair and had undergo series of surgery on his spinal cord in  Saudi Arabia by the help of Atiku, said he knew the former VP  in the days of SDP and NRC
“ I first met the former Vice-President when he retired from the Nigerian Customs Service and had newly joined politics during the days of SDP and NRC. Atiku sent for me to meet him at his residence in Jimeta- Yola,  When I arrived his residence, he said he had been hearing about my political feat and that he had retired from Customs, and would want us to work together to enable  him achieve his political goals. 
“Initially, it was very difficult for the people of Adamawa State to accept Atiku as a leader.  But we started selling his ideals to the public through our political contacts across the state in a bid to get the support of the people. Already, some of us knew he was sellable and apparently the best candidate for the people of Adamawa, in view of his unique and dynamic attributes which made it easier for us to galvanize support for him.
“Apart from the issue of acceptance in the state, he also had the late General Sani Abacha‘s factor to contend with.  The former number two man went through many political hurdles to get to where he is now.
At that time because of the rivalry between the former head of state, Late General Sani Abacha and late General  Shehu Yar’adua who was Atiku’s political mentor; even if Atiku had won the governorship election in the days of SDP and NRC, Abacha who was the Head of State would have used his veto power to quash the election for obvious reasons. Atiku actually contested against Dr Bala Takaya in the governorship polls, won the election but because the poll was allegedly disputed it was cancelled,” he said. 
Aliyu Song explained that in 1998 Atiku was among the founding fathers of the PDP both in Adamawa and Abuja and because of his attitude of embracing everybody, be it Christian or Muslim and his overwhelming contributions in the party, the stakeholders resolved that he should run for governorship election under the platform of the PDP in the state. 
He said despite these challenges, they never gave up on his ambition until 1998 when Atiku was finally elected under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Later as  Governor –Elect  of  Adamawa State,  Turaki was chosen by former President Olusegun Obasanjo  to be the Vice-Presidential candidate of the  party, and he  subsequently became Obasanjo’s Vice President (1999 -2007).Adding that the attribute of carrying everybody along and not sidelining others whether they are his tribe or religion was the thing that helped Atiku above other candidates who wanted to contest against him.
“These traits still make Atiku a formidable leader of men and no wonder he employs workers from different parts of the world in his many companies today. Another attribute I know him for is that he likes helping the poor, the less-privileged and orphans. When the people discovered that he had these attributes, his campaigns in 1998 to 1999 were easy as the electorates were telling us to go to sleep promising us that they would vote for Atiku, which they did as promised. He defeated his closest opponent Dr Bala Takaya at the polls to emerge as governor- elect, before he was drafted to Abuja to be running mate to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.  
“Even though he has gotten what he wanted to an extent he has never left my sight unlike other politicians who usually use and dump their subordinates,” he said.
Aliyu Song described Atiku as a man of honour and a good leader who keeps his words. “He once told us that the reason why he fought the Obasanjo’s third term agenda to a standstill was because he had sworn with the Quran to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria which permits only two terms and he was not ready to violate the constitution which he stood for till the end.
“He knew what the resolute action would cause his interest yet he stood firm. Being a stumbling block to Obasanjo‘s third term agenda, he was denied the opportunity to pilot the affairs of this country. However, despite the odds stacked against his political ambition of becoming the President, he co-founded the defunct Action Congress (AC) which metamorphosed to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and later integrated into the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). And due to his tenacity and determination he never gives up on politics. Presently he is one of the strongest members of the APC despite his travail in the party as he couldn’t win the party’s presidential primaries held in Lagos State. His continuous stay in the party is a clear demonstration of is high quality as a true democrat.”
According to him, The VP did not visit him for any political gains. But he visited to find out his health condition and that of his family. During his visit, he  said he will continue to encourage and support the incumbent governor, Senator Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow,   to translate a developmental plan to reality for Adamawa people. 
He said Bindow is an action governor whose developmental works within the few months of his tenure are beginning to speak for him, and that he believes that Bindow will not disappoint the people . And that the governor needs the support of all the people”. 
When he was asked where  they have been to with Turaiki , he said “ l will not forget in hurry when  some friends and I  travelled with Atiku to Gembu in Taraba State for a holiday. Friends like pastor Bitrus, Chief Emmanuel and others. The holiday was also meant to discuss matters of great significance to the development of the state.
“Sadly, many people empowered by Atiku politically were fond of disappointing him. Atiku is a team player. His plan is always to gather like-minded people together to develop the state. But, unfortunately, some folks used him as a ladder to rise to power and later become intoxicated with power thus forgetting their roots.
“ Aside, whenever I am with him, Turaki would always ask of many people who were on our state campaign train in 1998.   Atiku always remembers those he has worked with -even those who are now dead. He goes to their families to show kindness and expressed gratitude.
And those still alive are regularly visited as his tight schedules permit” he said.  
He described  Atiku as down to earth, humble, industrious, detribalized and patriotic.” In fact if we have five people like Atiku Abubakar in this country, Nigeria will be a better place for all to live prosperously.  Atiku does not forget old friends and colleagues despite his present status. He is always willing at all times to render assistance to the poor.  Whether you are poor or rich or illiterate or educated, he will want to respect you for who you are, he is a down to earth kind hearted” he said.
According to him, “for instance, imagine a lowly me here sitting on a wheel chair for quite a long time now; receiving Atiku as a surprise guest in my house in Song. From his far away Yola base, he came to see me because he knew I have been ill. 
He was even the one that paid all the bills for my medical trip to Saudi Arabia, four times, to undergo spinal cord surgery. I was operated twice on my waist, one on my back and lastly on my neck on different occasions.”
Aliyu Song said despite Atiku’s tight schedule , he  has made time to be visiting him and catering for his family’s well-being since his  disability. He explained that; so many people have benefitted from Atiku.
“Recently, he visited me and my family, ate with us and took picture with all members of my family. 
I was so honoured and proud to know the Turaki.  he also visited his primary school classmate in Song, Alhaji Ayuba Mamawa,  a one-time commissioner in Adamawa State. He gave the Commissioner who had been sick a surprise visit and catered for some of his medical expenses.
“It takes someone with a humble background to do what Atiku is doing for the underprivileged. He knows the true meaning of pain and how to alleviate it. Atiku does not want anyone to lack. He has created over 5000 job opportunities for Nigerians in Adamawa State and nationally. Atiku, without sounding blasphemous, is a savior in human form.  He actually saved my life, and I am honestly glad he did. Atiku is not selfish “.
“One day I asked the former VP why his children were not in politics. He said he didn’t want his children to join politics because he won’t want to be self- centered. He also said that a father will naturally want to support his children to be above others in achieving their goals – be it political or otherwise. He also told me that he preferred to assist a poor man to become something in the society. That is the other side of Atiku that many people don’t know. 
“Many people in Nigeria have benefitted from Atiku’s largesse and became something in this country as a result of his tenderness and kind heartedness. These attributes of his are the real reasons why he stands out every time among his colleagues and friends.
“ I pray to God to grant Atiku all his heart’s desires, both private and public. We are proud of Turaki; he is an epitome of humility and good leadership.   I also pray that God will promote him to greater heights, for he’s imbued with astute leadership qualities. Unlike most rich people who are arrogant and pompous, Atiku identifies with the downtrodden. His children too are well disciplined, hardworking and humble. Atiku leads by example,” he said.