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Chief (Architect) Gabriel Yakubu Aduku (1944-2024): An icon departs with passion for humanity

Not desperate, never  agitated, not rebellious, not a mischief-maker, Chief (Architect) Gabriel Aduku exited this world of desperation, agitations, rebellion, and mischief on March 10,…

Not desperate, never  agitated, not rebellious, not a mischief-maker, Chief (Architect) Gabriel Aduku exited this world of desperation, agitations, rebellion, and mischief on March 10, 2024, few weeks after his 80th birthday. He was an unexplored treasure to humanity, a rare  human resource and a man with a candle that shone in Nigeria’s pitch darkness. His calmness, his speeches, salted with grace, and carefully chosen diction could calm any storm.

It is on record that before he was elected as the Chairman of the elite Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in 2023, a body that conceived developmental agenda for the whole of northern Nigeria, the late Chief Aduku had conceived and enumerated an avalanche of projects that could elevate the North from being the country’s poverty capital to a prosperous, viable and enviable region in Nigeria and Africa.

For him, the potential for the emancipation of the North was embedded in its natural endowments: waterways, mineral deposits, human resources, and pragmatic politics.

Over the brief period he served Nigeria as Minister of State for Health in 2007-2008, Chief Aduku set in motion the process of eradicating one of the major killers of the young and old in Nigeria – malaria. But his plans could not be implemented as Chief Aduku’s tenure was truncated by controversial charges  of corruption, for which he was later discharged and  acquitted by both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court on November 9, 2009.

Chief Aduku’s passion  for the development of the North and, indeed Nigeria was not killed. In a press interview, the late Chief Aduku  expressed his discomfort at the half-hearted dredging of the River Niger and Benue, considering the economic benefits of the two rivers that spread across Nigeria. In the interview 

Chief Aduku said, “I have written to our colleagues, the Arewa Consultative Forum, to take it [dredging of Rivers Niger and Benue] up with President, Muhammadu Buhari. But from the records so far, especially since the beginning of Independence till now, every government has been saying that it would try to dredge the river. But over the years, the dredging has not seen the light of day.  I have been on this issue since 2012.  I personally would like to see Rivers Niger and Benue come upstream. All Nigerians must think about it because the fruits in it are enormous…”. He expressed concern about the moribund iron and steel company in Kogi State, the abandoned Jeba Paper Mill, and the failure of state governments to harness over 40 mineral resources in the North.

Chief Aduku was never dormant politically. Active over the years, he left some remarkable footprints. He was not only a member of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) but served as the State Chairman in Benue and pioneer Chairman of NRC in Kogi State where his contributions led to the emergence of the late Prince Abubakar Audu as the Governor of the state under the flag of NRC.

He was also a member of the defunct Democratic Party of Nigeria; and one of the founding  members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). To his credit, the late Chief Aduku designed the logo of the PDP,  as it is known today.   He could be simply described as a silent political juggernaut.

Apart from being involved in politics, he was an entrepreneur, having established several companies. He was an active participant in the Organized Private Sector (OPS) in Nigeria. He chaired the boards of several national companies. His roles in some of the entities included Senior Partner, Archcon Nigeria (Architects), 1972-84; Chairman, Nigeria Merchant Bank Limited, 1977-80; Chairman, United Nigeria Insurance Company Limited, 1980-83; Director, Beecham Limited, 1980; Executive Chairman, Archcon Nigeria (Architects); Chairman/Director, Kapital Insurance Limited; Chairman, Benro Packaging Company; Executive Chairman, ARCHCON Nigeria Limited; Chairman. AGY Nigeria Limited; Member of Council University of Maiduguri, 1976-80. The list is endless.

Many young Nigerians may have heard about Chief Aduku being described as an architect, but they are unaware of the impact he had made in the sector. He was one of the earliest architects to emerge from Northern Nigeria and had served as Vice President and President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects. He would later become the Chairman of the board of the Nigerian Institute of Architects.

He also served as Council Member, International Union of Architects (1993 – 1999).  Some of the outstanding architectural projects his company Archcon Nigeria executed include the followings: 500-bed General Hospital at Gbagada, Lagos; master planning and design of faculty buildings at the University of Sokoto; Bauchi State Government Secretariat; multi-storey building at Northern Nigerian Investment Limited, Kaduna; residence of the Nigerian ambassador in Germany, Bonn; and private residence of the late President Shehu Shagari.

The late Chief Aduku hailed from Anyigba in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State. He was born into the family of the late Pa Aduku Agwuye Aga and Mrs Ajetu Aduku on February 3, 1944. He was the Amana Ogochi I of Igalaland, a title bestowed upon him by Atta Igala. He attended Qua Iboe Mission School, Idah; Okene Secondary School, Okene; and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained both B.Sc and M.Sc  Architecture in the 1970s.

He devoted the later part of his life to the service of God and humanity. He led several campaigns against political violence, armed thuggery and other vices in Igalaland.  He was Chairman of Kogi East Elders Council, a post he held till his  passage to glory. A very notable role he played for the Igalaland was his challenge of the 2006 population census in which the Igala were shortchanged in their majority population position in the state and Nigeria at large. He stood for and spoke the Igala voice up to the Appeal and Supreme Courts, until the case was thrown out. However, this did not go down well with a section of Kogi State.

The late Chief Aduku was happily married to Lydia Iye Aduku.  The union is happily blessed with six children. He was a loving husband, a caring and darling father and a philanthropist who put smiles on the faces of orphans and widows. He saw many indigent students through school via admissions and payment of tuition fees, both at home,  abroad and across religions. The late colossus equally contributed immensely to the growth of the church having served as an Elder in the United Evangelical Church till his exit from this world. It is on record, too, that he sponsored many Muslims on Hajj. He was widely travelled, having visited many countries of the globe. He loved playing golf and reading, especially in his spare time. May his soul rest in peace.

Theophilus Abbah resides in Abuja


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