When the political evolution of Nigeria is told to successive generations, many mentions would be made of certain personalities who played redeeming roles at particular points in the life of the nation. These roles come in the forms of political leadership worthy of emulation, advocacies for good governance and such other endeavours driven by sheer patriotism and the love for their people. A living example of such class of countrymen is Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa state and incumbent senator of the Federal Republic.
Born on July 23, 1946, in the ancient town of Keffi, Nasarawa state, the story of how the courageous boy from humble backgrounds rose to bestride the corridors of political and economic power is an inspiration for generations to come. His insatiable quest for knowledge started at Government College, Makurdi in 1960 when Nigeria got her independence but was to transfer to the Government Technical College at Bukuru in 1962 through to 1965. Afterwards, he attended the prestigious Kaduna Polytechnic for his National Diploma and Higher National Diploma, respectively, from 1965 to 1971. The young and affable Abdullahi worked variously with the Electricity Company of Nigeria (ECN), the Northern Nigeria Development Company (NNDC), both in Kaduna between 1967 and 1975 before the Benue/Plateau state government appointed him as general manager of the state’s construction company with headquarters in Jos, Plateau state capital. He made his first mark in engineering and construction when his consultancy firm, AEK, handled the construction of Durbar Hotel and the Murtala Mohammed Square, both standing monuments in the northern city of Kaduna.
Senator Adamu’s journey into political influence began with his election into the 1977 Constituent Assembly empanelled by then military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo to put in place the 1979 constitution expected to usher in a civil dispensation. Those who served in the same national assignment attested to sense of purpose, decorum and a tendency for team work that the young member brought on board. With the advent of the short-lived second republic, Abdullahi became a pioneer member of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, rising from being pioneer state secretary to the state Chairman of the party in Plateau state.
An instructive aspect of Adullahi Adamu’s life is his exemplary courage to explore new frontiers and an undying penchant to leave indelible footprints of achievements. It was this vain that he went back to the University of Jos in 1987 to study law, a somewhat digression from his earlier strides. The senator told this writer in May 2015 during the course of an exclusive interview that his choice to go back to school was informed by “a penchant for knowledge and the zeal to know the mechanism of justice, so as to serve the people of this country better.” His ability to study a discipline that requires attention and dedication is a testament to the later attributes of political doggedness and sound contributions that he continues to manifest in his political trajectory.
When the military junta of late General Sani Abacha chose the aspiring politician in 1994 among other notable Nigerians to the 1994 Constituent Assembly, his stars became more brilliant when the same junta appointed him later as minister of state for works, a position that he judiciously espoused to the benefits of Nigerians. It was in the strength of his agitations and closeness to the corridors of power that saw the junta create Nasarawa state in 1996.
As the stage set for Nigeria to return to civil democracy after a long interregnum of military interventions in governance, the ground was also prepared for Abdullahi Adamu to bring his wealth of political experience and people’s patronage to glare. He contested the 1998 governorship election in Nasarawa state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party and won overwhelmingly at the polls.
As governor of mineral-rich Nasarawa state, Abdullahi remarkably justified the confidence of his people. He was able to nurture the young state by establishing viable institutions across various frontiers, including the reputable Nasarawa State University and several other tertiary institutions, modernisation of towns and communities and an agricultural revolution that had President Obasanjo reeling with excitement in 2005 during an occasion to commission finished development projects that darted every corner of the vast state. It would amount to stating the obvious that Abdullahi Adamu provided the needed architecture for the development of Nasarawa state. This sterling performance endeared him to his people further and they rallied round him as their political leader, a relationship that continues to wax even stronger.
In 2007, at the twilight of his consecutive tenures as Governor of Nasarawa state between 1999 and 2007, Adamu offered to serve Nigeria as president under the umbrella of PDP. The political space then was dominated by President Obasanjo who handpicked then Governor of Katsina state, Mallam Umaru Yar’Adua as candidate of the party and winner of the disputed polls. He was later to serve as secretary of the Board of Trustees of the then ruling party under the chairmanship of Obasanjo.
His undying penchant for service to Nigeria got him to contest to represent Nasarawa West Senatorial District in 2011, a position he won for the third time last March. As senator, Abdullahi Adamu distinguished himself among his colleagues and has been a fulcrum of national development through effective legislation. He contested the exalted position of the president of the eighth Senate but toed his party, the All Progressives Congress decision to zone the position to the North-east. Adamu has continued to be a revered voice of reason in the senate and the arrowhead of rallying the legislators to the success of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visions.
While the legend of the Sarkin Yakin Keffi cannot be told in a single tribute for want of space, his exemplary life of service and distinction remains an inspiration that needs continuous appraisal. Yours sincerely joins millions of well-wishers to wish the great Nagari Nakowa, the farmer of Nasarawa and custodian of Nigeria’s heritage the best in the years to come. May Almighty Allah, whom he has served with reverence, grant him the desires of his heart in continual good health.
Abonu, a development journalist and convener of Organising for Nigeria, writes from Udo Udoma Street, Asokoro, Abuja.