For the Record: Thank you, Mr Atiku Abubakar.

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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.

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

  1. Uche Igwe says:

    I am touched by this. Congrats Ruona. Thank you Atiku Abubakar.

  2. Buba says:

    Pretty impressive, Congrats Ruona, thanks for shedding more light on a side to the man people didn’t know existed.

  3. […] got a heartbreaking note yesterday, from a lady I have never met, who was a beneficiary of the 2011 round of […]

  4. Jess says:

    I was so touched by ur story….ppl around r wondering why m crying..God ll bless u nd give u more grace..thanks for sharing dis…ts encouraging…pls if u can tell m how to apply too bkos v been looking for an opportunity to study medicine on scholarship too..thanks
    Thank u Mr Atiku..I hav never seen anyone so humble nd kind..wt all d power u have attained..in dis world where ppl help others just so d public could see..u did ur secretly for years.. God ll increase you on every side..

  5. FINALLY VERY NICE, WE ALSO PRAY FOR 2015

  6. Folashade Olorunyomi says:

    Wow! am also touched dear, if it weren’t coming from you I wouldn’t have believed a bit of what i just read. Wow! this piece just change my perceived ideologies about Mr. Atiku. We still have good hearts in Nigeria. Jennifer thanks for making the utmost use of the opportunity given you. Once again am proud of you. Congrats dear.

  7. IykeDexter says:

    This is one “embarrassing” way to say Thank You. As Mr Atiku gave you in silence, and you have given others in “silence”, may God also give you both in silence.

  8. Abimbola Adesanya says:

    I can’t stop the tears running down my cheeks right now. I guess I just have to let them till they run dry. I’m so deeply touched, not by His Excellency’s gesture which I’ve heard about anyway but by the lady’s story. Mr Atiku’s gesture is not new to me. I’ve heard good tales about him from people you least expect to hear from. From his days in the Customs service even to the corridors of power. It is inherent in him to do good. But many people will not believe this because they have a twisted perception of the man called Atiku. This is one too many. I pray dat God in His infinite mercies will continue to bless him. May his own chidren too find help in their own time of need. Thank you sir .

  9. babsymx says:

    Giving honour to whom it’s due is an act of humilty only few even among the most humble people can afford.

    For coming out to thank Mr Abubakar, you did well. You did even better by helping others.

    On their (those you’ve helped and those who’ll benefit in future) behalf, thank you Mr Atiku Abubakar, thank you Ruona. I’m touched!

  10. Ahmed Rufa'i Ahmed says:

    May God Continue to Bless him to Continuously Uplifting People and the Country in General…

  11. salahuddeen Ardo says:

    Wow the moment I started reading I knew, it was something from the heart cox the brain works in perfection

  12. Lemuel Gramso says:

    I am great touched and impressed. May the lord almighty increase you sir, Mr. Atiku.

  13. Ibrahim Gwaram says:

    This is really heart touching and a great service to humanity.All the best Rouna.

  14. kachalla m. says:

    indeed touching!

  15. kalimatics says:

    Thanks Turaki for helping this woman. I wish i could get a similar opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree.

  16. Ephraim Nafama says:

    What a touching piece. I am really inspired by this story. I pray that God will raise Millions of Atiku’s in this generation. Well done RUONA, thank you ATIKU ABUBAKAR TURAKIN ADAMAWA.

  17. Abdullahi Jibrin keana says:

    Ruona am really touched with this and God bless U and Mr. Abubakar Atiku for his wonderful handwork on the improve of education to the youths via scholarship…. JAZAKHALLAHU KHAIRAN

  18. John Warev says:

    I know Atiku Abubakar is a good man

  19. Kenechukwu Chukwukelue says:

    I don’t know what to say but you are a good girl/lady,remembering someone that once did you good is a great thing. congrats keep it up and God bless Turaki. i am touched nice one. I love Nigeria

  20. ole dosunmu says:

    Lovely, highly impressed. Good note of appreciation, am highly touched.

  21. Omolara Adunni Idowu says:

    Oh wonderful! Congratulations Ruona…. Thank you Alhaji Atiku Abubakar… God bless you more sir.

  22. Niddy Christabel Bonis says:

    Thank you Rouna and Turaki Abubakar. This has really touched me. I see a lot of people in Yola getting employed through your investments. My late father (Bonis) once told me how Turaki honoured him in Lagos while in the custom by standing for my father to sit while he Turaki sat on the floor in his crowded living room. God bless you sir. Happy belated birthday!

  23. Amaka says:

    Now there’s a Nigerian with a difference. Thank you Atiku Abubakar

  24. Chibuzor says:

    Your a good Nigerian my dear please keep on showing good exaamples it pays.
    God use Sir Atiku to help you and God will also use those you help to help other.But I am sorry for those who can not help their brothers and sisters.

  25. Chy Agu says:

    I was really touched. Thanks his Excellency and may God bless u.congrats Rouan

  26. Efe Oshare says:

    Nigerians need to emulate this great and detribalized man-Atiku Abubakar…am blessed to read those!

  27. Oladipupo Adeola says:

    Thankyou for this. You have changed my opinion about Mr Abubakar to something positive.

  28. Tasiu Abdu says:

    That is good alot.

  29. ragbroko says:

    I appreciate all your comments and kind words, heartfelt thanks to you all!

  30. Abba makaman Daura says:

    I’m very touched by this…and may Allah reward Alhaji Atiku Abubakar…nd may god reward u too…congrats once again

  31. Opara S.K says:

    This act of appreciation deserves been published on international and national dailies. Thanks TURAKI of Adamawa for impacting generations.

  32. Matt dauda says:

    Interesting!!! Thank you sir

  33. Babangida Lamido says:

    Atiku is the best politician we have in this era. He regard young Nigerian to been educated so as bring changes to our

  34. Matt dauda says:

    Congrats RUONA, i wish more success.. May GOD bless u Mr. ATIKU

  35. Auwal babayo says:

    I m touched by dis story congrats rouna nd God guide nd protect u mr atiku abubakar

  36. Simon says:

    Good one Ruona and we wish to thank Atiku for this act of kindness, support and showing that God’s help is possible ! He has passed as an angel here on earth who has been used as a conduit to send the much needed help to needy people! God bless you sir!!

  37. ALESAGBA ABIODUN JOSEPH says:

    Mrs Rouna thanks be to God that you are not among the nine lepers that didn’t go back to say thank you. Mr Atiku you have been trying your best but some still castigates you. Don’t be weary in doing good but know for sure that there is reward for everything on earth. God almighty will increase and honour you and your children will not lack helpers in life amen.

  38. Murtala Lawal says:

    This are the type of Leaders we want. The leaders that are there to served but not to be served; leaders that will cut across all boundries, leaders that have the fear of God in their hearts, Leaders like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. With this i say Thank u Sir and i Congratulate u Ruona . More grease to ur elbows. I also wish Alh. Atiku a long and God protection from the evil of Mankind and Jenn. Thank u Sir, once again.

  39. This letter has completely changed my perception of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Turakin Adamawa. Thank you Sir and Congrats Ruona.

  40. Sadiq says:

    You are a star agent of global reputation.

  41. jacob efereko aguariavwodo says:

    very interestin. kind people truly are in our country. they know that the money they control is from God on trust. may God bles them as they continue to do good. i m realy moved. if only other rich people can lend a helpin hand nigeria would b a better place today. ruona n atiku pls continue d good work n God wil c u tru.

  42. Huram King says:

    if only those blessed by Turaki remember to bless others just in a little way, we would have reduced poverty mightly in nigeria.he has shared with many from all over nigeria.i am not surprisedif all families in nigeria have been touched by atiku already.that is GREATNESS

  43. iwuji ebere charles says:

    My mentor Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, we all highly impressed. My God will keep lifting u all the time. As for Ruona ur a remarkable one among the list. Congratulations!

  44. Thank You Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Leaders are born they are not made.

  45. Odoma Yakub Idris says:

    Congrat to you Rouna. Atiku gesture is indeed a heart beat to those of us who wish to be like him. He “Mr Abubakar” grew up as an ophan and the only child. Amidst his condition and the enviroment he came from, he was never discouraged in his pursuit for life. In his bid for life, he started as a cattle headman, sustaining life gradually untill he is finally whom he is today. And today, Atiku Abubakar don’t want people to suffer the way he did. Mr Abubakar today has amass so much wealth from his businesses even before leaving the Nigeria Custom Service and has employd tens of thausands of the Nigerian Youth. I am neither a sycomphant nor a song praiser. I have met in contact with some of Mr Atiku’s Employee and they confess to me of fair treatment they are getting from his organisation. How many Nigrian leaders both past and present have investment in this country? Mr Atiku Abubakar is one. You should mention the rest. Rouna i congratulate you once more and May God guide you and Mr Abubakar for having less privileged people in mind. Tnx

  46. Yusuf Abdultkahi Umar says:

    It’s really very touching, we are praying 4 him

  47. Salihu Nurudeen Babi says:

    thank u Mr. Atiku Abubakar keep it up.

  48. sirOscie says:

    Thank very much Turaki !!! Ruona looking forward to seeing you.

  49. sanusi usmaN says:

    Congrat. Ruona. May God fulfil ur dream. Mr Atiku Abubakar.

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