For the Record: Thank you, Mr Atiku Abubakar.


November 26, 2013 by ragbroko

IMG_20131126_112048I hear it every time, and feel somewhat guilty when they all say it. Distinguished men old enough to father me; young journalists who are often gobsmacked that I look younger than they expected and organisers who are simply relieved their events have gone well.

They all say: Ruona, thank you.

And each time, they do not believe me when I cringe and reply with: Please, don’t mention.

For the over 100 journalists and PR professionals I have ever been privileged to have sessions with, I want you to know today that you are thanking the wrong person.

All I know and have been passing on for practically free and totally free has been mainly because I was given a scholarship in 2011 to study at the University of Westminster, London. Today, I am graduating with a Merit in Broadcast Journalism from this prestigious institution and the sense of pride my family has is down to a man I have never met.

In thanking this man, I must now apologise to him because I am doing something which I have come to know (through his colleagues) he hates intensely—putting him in the limelight.

That man is Atiku Abubakar.

Again, I have never met Mr Abubakar, but knew early on in the 90’s that he was fondly called Turaki by Godwin, my father. After the Abacha regime incarcerated Godwin for one long spell, Turaki sent messages of encouragement. I know this because I eavesdropped as my trip to boarding school in Ogun State was delayed so Godwin could receive his friend’s guest.

When Godwin was assassinated in 2006, Mr Abubakar gave my sister a full postgraduate scholarship in Scotland, where she was living at the time, all with no physical contact with our family. From then on he seemed to fade from my consciousness, until December 2010.

I was having a brief stop in Nigeria from Johannesburg, and in the midst of preparing to move eventually to London by mid-2011 due to my marriage. I had applied for numerous jobs and was not called for a single interview. Citing the recession, my friends in London advised me to study in the UK to increase my chances of employment and learn the trade properly, since I was to settle here.

I applied for scholarships but the fact that I was not going to return to Nigeria fully anytime soon meant a bank and one popular global UK scholarships provider turned me down with expected alacrity.

I made up my mind to get any job, even if menial, and work my way to pay for the degree whenever I began living in the UK.

And so a few weeks before I left Nigeria, I ran into one of Godwin’s former colleagues. He asked me what I had been up to since my father’s death. When I explained my situation, he said he was aware Mr Abubakar had a long-running, informal set-up where he provided scholarships for “young people who show promise.”

As someone who never believes in the concept of the free lunch, I blurted out the first two things that came into my head—after helping my sister would Mr Abubakar help me as well? I had never met him; what if he began trying to influence my work?

I was immediately assured of two things. First, though informally given, all scholarships had a selection process with requirements. Secondly, Mr Abubakar had no idea of my work, even though I liked to think I was somebody who had recently won an international journalism prize. And in the event he did know, Mr Abubakar was not that kind of meddler. Basically, the dude could not be bothered.

I got in contact with Mr Abubakar’s Abuja office and went on a recce of sorts. I met a little line of people seated, holding large brown envelopes; took note of NYSC certificates peeking through transparent envelopes and listened as a member of staff received documents. I was informed I would need to write a cover letter explaining why I felt I deserved this scholarship, attach an offer letter from the UK University, show all my previous academic credentials; include a CV; and provide two letters from academic referees.

I got all the documents together, posted them to the address provided and promptly forgot about it.

A few months later a Dr Andrew Okolie informed me by email that I was to be given full tuition for my postgraduate degree. I was asked to provide the school’s bank account where the fees would be paid in directly, told to make the best of the opportunity and remember to bring honour to my country.

And that was it.

There was no further contact.

Even when I went to drop my first semester transcripts I was warmly thanked for making the effort. Mr Abubakar’s colleague told me: “Not many people who get scholarships from this office do that, Ruona and we do not impose conditions on them.”

I was surprised, and honestly felt guilty and undeserving. And so I began wondering how to repay this act of kindness. My contacts shrugged, telling me their opinion was that the best way was to emulate Mr Abubakar and give support to others.

I have always loved teaching, so I began to offer short courses for journalists whenever I got the chance to be in Nigeria. Charging the barest minimum or nothing at all in some cases, I found a way of fulfilling my interests whilst passing on the knowledge this scholarship has given me access to.

Even when it turned out to be a very difficult academic year in which I had to undergo surgery, the office sent their best wishes with every email update I sent. They added no pressure; instead they basically just trusted me to get on with it.

Everything came to a head on August 31st this year. It was my husband’s birthday and we were in Lagos, with my elder brother holding his marriage rites on that same day. Instead, I preferred to miss all the festivities in favour of running a free training course with young journalists in Lagos. Their eagerness to learn and the way we rubbed off on each other touched me beyond words. On the way home, I finally felt the greatest sense of fulfillment. And gratitude. I wouldn’t have things any other way.

I have written this because today I am graduating, and I want it on the record that Mr Abubakar’s commitment to education has always been present, regardless of whenever he has been in power or not. I am solid proof that well before the Education Solutions programme the man has been operating scholarships silently with no gender or tribal bias.

Today, I am an accomplished professional and able to uplift my family, country, craft and colleagues because Mr Abubakar took a look at several pieces of paper and made the decision to support a young lady he had never met, and probably never will.

And that is why, as I prance in front of the mirror, pose for pictures and take my place on the podium I ask everyone I have been privileged to work with not to thank me—or even Mr Abubakar for that matter—because he may actually be too busy to read this.

Rather, I ask that like Mr Abubakar, you be that person who creates a chance for others to excel.

Or you can be that person who makes the best of every chance they get in life to excel…and when they do excel, they create chances for others to excel.

Thank you, Mr Atiku Abubakar.

My apologies if I have embarrassed you.

It was totally intentional.

84 thoughts on “For the Record: Thank you, Mr Atiku Abubakar.

  1. Abdullahi Yahaya says:

    Atiku Abubakar is indeed a man worthy of emulation. I was greatly touched by the “So Long a Letter”. It is a fact that the current trend in the Nigerian society is the “unappreciative” nature of us. Nothing as appalling as the spirit of gratitude. Ruona has shown that perfectly. She deserves more of that. My prayer is that God reward you for your efforts. May He guide and protect you against all evil machinations, amen.

  2. Samaila Sani Tsafe says:

    Congrate my dear, that is nice, what are the procedures of your masters degree scholarship sir? Thanks

  3. With due respect may Almighty God bless you and your family to achieve your aims and objective amen.And mr Atiku,may your day be long. To me i am an orphan hunting for job,please if you can help me to join Nigeria Custom Servise i will be grateful and God will continue bless you thanks.

  4. Idris says:

    What you sow, u will surely reap. Congratulations Rouna and keep on with the good work for the betterment of the nation and humanity. Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, May Almighty God continue to bless you and give you the heart and strength to do more. Sky is your starting point as you contribute truly and sincerely to the growth of the Nation through youth empowerment and other aspect best known to you. Thank you.

  5. Tom Akor. says:

    This indeed is very touching… Ruonah, you have always stood out in all your endeavors. I want to lend a whisper to this thank you note; Thank you Mr “Zege Mule U Tiv”… The man is indeed a true Nigerian…

  6. You people have to be patience and forgive each other. Atiku abubakar actually what has been done to you is something very touching, i plead to u to be patience and continue assisting other.

  7. Ajayi Sunday says:

    He has been a man of his words even when he is not in power. I truely like him a lot. Thank you sir for helping younger generations. God will continue to lift you high above your rivals.

  8. Garba isyaku says:

    congratulation for this great achievement may god give you the strength to up-lift others too. and my thanks and prayer go to Atiku Abubakar may god almighthy comtinue to give you
    wisdom and guide you through out your life

  9. Dr Adamu Danladi Bojude says:

    That’s my Hero.
    There are very few politicians of his caliber in Nigeria and if Nigeria should have many like him then our future will be brighter.
    I commend him for investing in people and for the people.
    I know of American University in Nigeria, ABTI group of Schools, FARO water and FARO juices, Gotel radio and Television, Savannah Sugar ……… etc all in Adamawa, and several other investments in Nigeria. Imagine where Nigeria would have been if that is what our politicians do in their respective states/region or the country.
    Welldone and thank you.
    You will live longer, stronger, healthier and bravier to inspire us.
    Allah ya maka Albarka da Kai da iyalanka.

  10. Abdulbaseet Ibrahim says:

    Congratulations on your graduation, I hope you continue with your emulation of good works, and I pray as you’ve been trying to uplift others as you’ve been uplifted May God almighty guide you and give you more strength to continue with your good works….. Carry on with the good works Mr Atiku….. Congratulations once again

  11. Chamberlain Okere says:

    This is indeed a very Helpful imput worthy of emulation.i humbly thank the TURAKI ADAMAWA for his philantropical assistance.Keep it up your Excellency.God shall see him true in all his endeavors.

  12. Femi Popoola says:

    Dis piece total changed my perception about Turaki Atiku Abubakar. You are indeed, a good leader & am proud of YOU

  13. Olapade Adebola says:

    To the Sadauna of Ganye, the Turaki of Adamawa the Almighty Allah will uphold all that is yours. I have known you to be a person in your state, I never knew it extends to other states God Bless You Sir.

  14. Adebayo ibrahim says:

    D good u do will not leave u but come after u,dat is 4 Atiku Abubakar,but for my Oga madam,I wsh to benefit frm d journalism training,I can think right,& I knew dia is something journalistic in me but only I wasn’t to bring it out,so d moderator shld pls link me wit either Atiku or d Oga Madam Journalist.-Adebayo Ibrahim.

  15. Vivian says:

    Congrats!! Thanks to Atiku, great man

  16. Usman Mohammed says:

    I was really impress with what Mr. Atiku Abubakar is doing and i says my congratulation to you Ruona, because many were called, few were choosen, but yet the fitest one survived. I am also a dream journalist but an ability is nothing without opportunity.
    But i just have to follow my passion so that success will follow me.
    I have been through hardship and pains after the death of my father since when i was 6 years old. But i build myself on the fact that says; “NEVER SAY DIE UNTIL THE BONES ARE ROOTENS”.
    I shall be very glad if someone could give me the opportunity to study in UK.
    I am,
    Usman Mohammed
    from Lapai, Niger State

  17. Akachi Odoemene, Ph.D. says:

    This is very impressive. Well done Atiku; congratulations Rouna. I think I’ve learnt something special from this. Such stories help in motivating people for greater callings.

  18. @timi172, this man is a true leader. The wife, Chief Mrs Titi Atiku Sponsored me too in my 100 level days as VP wife. I wrote to all the leaders for help, non replied me except this mother. I guess the good is permanent in the family.

  19. Williams Rotimi Ogunleye says:

    I have always seen in him a politician of dinstinct value. What an ignorant society we have.

  20. Atiku is the man,may God give you the mandate soonest don‘t be distracted in the face of distraction.

  21. Omobolanle Olufemi Longe says:

    Congratulations, Ruona!

  22. Ejeh A. Peter says:

    May God in infinate mercy raise a helper for me as he has done in ur life. Nd to Atiku i will like to say thanks.

  23. Alhassan says:

    It’s very nice of you.if more people like you in Nigeria things will be better.wish I can get my hands on a schoolarship like you.wish you the best.

  24. vicben14 says:

    I wish you well as you repay this kind gesture by emulating the life style of this great philanthropist of our time.

  25. mina2609 says:

    Congrats Ruona! I truly do envy you. Got an offer recently to study international law at the university of westminster too but I couldn’t accept the offer for financial reasons. Applied for some scholarships but I either don’t get them or I only hear about them after the scholarship offers must have been closed. I applied for jobs too and like you, got nothing. That actually informed my decision to further my education cos I felt I would be upping my chances of getting a job here in Nigeria, but well I’m still praying and hoping to do that whilst still searching for a job. You are very fortunate. Really glad that you found a helper i.e Atiku. And I’m glad that you’re reaching out to others too. Keep up the good work dear, God bless you.

  26. mamman bala says:

    yes of course atiku is a man of worthy and emulation mr atiku do whatever you would do for the sake of allah he would protect you from all evils of mankind

  27. Gozakc says:

    Am greatly touched by the letter of appreciation to.she has demonstrated gratitude a special way that no many people will.the speech is awesome and I want to join her in thanking turaki for a wonderful work and also enjoying people like him to emulate such by given opportunities to strangers. Like she said thank u Mr abubarka, thank u turaki for giving us the chance of meeting her.

  28. Atiku is truely the types of leaders we should emulate. May Allah grant u long life so that the generation yet unborn can benefit from ur gesture. Keep it up Turakin Adamawa, Sardaunan Ganye.

  29. That is Atiku for you. He gives out indiscriminately…. may God bless abundantly.

  30. daniel says:

    Long live Atiku Abubakar

  31. […] For the Record: Thank you, Mr Atiku Abubakar. ( […]

  32. Winifred says:

    Congratulations Ruona and thank you to Alhaji Atiku for his kindness.

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