- Born into a near-wretched home
- Dropped out of school for lack of support
- Took up vocation as land surveyor’s apprentice
- Built first house from N700 salary
- Escaped assassination attempt with bullet wounds months to 50th birthday
There are days you come across some stories that get you doubting the authenticity of such reports. One of such is the incredible narration of Engr (Alhaji) Abdulkabir Sikiru Atanda. This prompted CityPulse Nigeria to investigate further. Interestingly, our visit coincided with the engineer’s 50th birthday celebration.
After speaking with members of Al-Uloom Islamic Organisation where Atanda is their turbaned Amir as well as with friends and relatives, the story was confirmed to be true!
The story revolves around a young lad, thoroughly bred at Otubu in Agege area of Lagos, whose strive and journey in life threw up several challenges and vicissitudes across his path. Born into the family of Alhaji and Alhaja Zikirullahi Alimi on February 2, 1967 at Ibarapa community of Egba Land, he had his primary and secondary education in Abeokuta, his hometown.
His plan to further his schooling to the university level hit the rock due to financial constraint. His parents lacked the financial muscle to take up such venture. Thus it seemingly looked like an end to what would have been an otherwise promising, as the media-obsessed society always wants the world to believe. After all, it is no secret that in virtually every family, there is a general perception that those who don’t further their education up to university education hardly succeed in life. Atanda became hopeless and helpless because in his myopic view, his dream and aspiration to become somebody in life has been butchered by his parents show of poverty.
His Response To Life Challenges
Ambition may die, a desire might crash but the determination to become a success in life must always be kept alive no matter what. With Atanda’s mental determination, he endured, remained upright and never engaged in immoral acts.
Picking himself up from the ruin of his education fiasco, the young lad applied to understudy the art of land surveying as an apprentice. Not minding the fact that he stood shoulder high above most of his contemporaries at work, who apparently either didn’t make it pass primary level or had no idea about what western education looks like, Atanda indeed stooped to conquer. Although he suffered under harsh conditions, the young engineer gave all he could to the job until he completed the duration of his course.
Atanda first baptism of fire came in form of a shoulder dislocation he sustained in the course of clearing a large expanse of land filled with thick weeds. The pain was so severe that he thought the end was near.
“How will I continue to do my job without a healthy hand?” “Won’t this injury end up take my life?” Several fears dotted his mind.
It was so intense that his father started applying all manners of treatment on him. Different theories were postulated by self-acclaimed experts from various fields. Some said it was Jedi-Jedi, some fracture-ginoticide (whatever that means), yet a handful of other persons alluded that young Atanda was probably bewitched. Regardless of the diagnosis each person came up with, they all stood by him and rendered whatever assistance they could. However the ailment persisted.
Being a devoted Islamic scholar, Atanda subsequently engaged the service of his Imam to pray over the pain until he honoured the appointment of an orthopaedic surgeon whose surgery put an end to his long time misery.
Talk about poverty!
With a monthly contribution from his meagre N700 salary, the young engineer started saving up and eventually got himself a single room in a rented apartment. After some years, his co-tenant moved out and Baba Mubaraq annexed his room as well and started expanding following a gradual acquisition of household items and other necessities.
Over time, he bought a land and quietly commenced the process of building his first home. When the proposed house got to the lintel stage, he could not continue with its decking because he was completely broke at this stage.
Did he panic?
No, he held on firmly to his dream with prayers and never ran helter-skelter like a first timer would do. The breakthrough later came via a number of small contracts he could not afford to turn down. As he patiently builds up his contacts through such little engagements that came his way, his commitment paid and people started trusting him with bigger contracts. He eventually completed his dream home, such a beauty to behold!
His first Hajj Trip
Atanda maiden travel to the Holy Land did not come on a platter of gold. His first pilgrimage did not happened until 2004 when he conceived the idea of paying in instalments. Sometimes he paid N10,000, in other instances, N5000 with bank tellers as proof of payments until he became eligible to perform the Hajj rite.
Today, the charismatic engineer has sponsored no fewer than 50 pilgrims to Hajj and Umrah while giving them ample basic transport and logistics allowances. As a devoted Muslim, he joined an organisation called NAMWAT SOCIETY which he was fortunate to become its chairman and subsequently, one of the strongest board of trustee member of Al-Uloom International Islamic Organisation in Alagbado area of Lagos to date.
For his philanthropic gestures and commitment, he has been award the KNIGHT OF AL-ULOOM, the highest award ever given by an Islamic organisation.
Failed Assassination Attempt
He probably has heard and seen how some dastardly acts of violence were carried out on innocent victims and never fathomed in the fact he could be one of those casualties. But it did happen! An attempt was made on Baba Mubaraq’s life several weeks to his 50th birthday celebration.
On that fateful day, he set for work after taking his breakfast. Waving at his family and reassuring them he would be back at night, nothing gave him the hint that he was destined to spend the next few days on sick bed in a hospital.
After the day’s job, he spent time discussing related events with his workers over lunch. Trouble only started after they made attempt to close for the day. The ricocheting echoes of gunshots rent the air. While scampering for cover, his workers went in opposite directions. A frightened Atanda ran into a lift as the assailants closed in on him. When the gunmen realised he has escaped into the lift and jammed the doors, they expended several bullets on the metal body.
After unleashing their reign of terror, the gang fled the scene. While many actually thought the lift has saved the engineer from the hot leads of the gunmen, Atanda was reeling in pain as some of the bullets had managed to penetrate his body. When his workers and sympathisers found him still breathing, he was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Everybody visiting the bloody scene for the first time could mistake it as a battle ground between Nigerian Army and Boko Haram insurgents. Through divine providence and a sheer dint of luck, Atanda survived the onslaught.
That same month, he was spotted supervising the decking of the newly constructed Al-Uloom Mosque with plastered wounds all over his body. That he survived such gruesome attack was indeed a miracle!
When approached on level of investigation so far, the engineer kept telling those who care to listen that he has since forgiven whoever the perpetrator(s) might be as he doesn’t believe in holding grudges for too long.
Little wonder he was seen partying hard with his wives, children and relatives at his 50th birthday celebration which took place in Lagos this year, specifically on February 2, 2017.
From his humble beginning to his present stage, Sir Engr (Alhaji)Abdulkabir Sikiru Atanda, in fact, has every reason to thank God.
Don’t you think?