Abdulkareem Moh’d Jamiu Asuku: Early Life, Career, and Politics – All You Need to Know About the Youngest Chief of Staff in Nigeria
A good name resonates with candour and, an association with it comes with discipline, and the good friendship accompanied with good conscience, tolerance, trust, understanding, and satisfactory conduct. You will also agree with me that the words of Elmer G. Letterman perfectly describes the attributes of Asuku to a large extent free of exaggerations. “Personality can open doors, but only character can keep the doors open” – Elmer G. Letterman.
We hear of born leaders, and indeed some of the qualities do seems to appear at the earliest age and remains so into adulthood, with earmarks and characteristics. Not as a thing that appears suddenly, and certainly not as a thing that can be taught entirely as a course in institutions of learning. Still marveled at the energy continually radiates by Pharmacist Jamiu Asuku, I and my team decided to dig into his past to unravel what most people do not know about the youngest Chief of Staff to a seating Governor in Nigeria.
To satisfy our curiosity and in justification of the saying: “there is no man without a past, or perhaps a starting point” Born to the family of Mallam Abdulkareem Salawu Otaru on January 2, 1984 at Uruvicheba, Okene, Kwara State (present Kogi State). Young Asuku started his education career at LGEA Primary School, Ogogoro in Okehi Local Government of present Kogi State, from 1989 to 1994. After which he proceeded to Abdul Aziz Attah Memorial College (AMCO), Okene, from 1994 to 2000.
During his days at AMCO, young Asuku exhibited a high level of brilliancy uncontestable by his colleagues and students from neighboring LGAs. He was popularly called Halogen ( name given to highly reactive group seven elements) by his colleagues then His name then gradually became a melody on the lips of many; as tales of his intellectual prowess spread like wildfire raging through a thick forest. As the tradition of AMCO was, internal examination was conducted by the school administration to select the best three students in the science class. And as expected, young Halogen emerged the overall best student in the school.
He then was amongst the three to always represent the school at all physical competitions across the state and the country at large. Because of his exceptional performance in class, the post of special duty prefect was created and he was the first student to hold that position in AMCO. In 1999, Asuku proceeded to become the best student in Okene Local Government Area (LGA) following a Quiz Competition organized within the LGA.
After which his school was selected among the three schools to represent Kogi central senatorial district in Lokoja, the State capital for the famous STAN Quiz, and was selected among the five (5) overall best students to represent Kogi in Abuja but would require the sponsorship of the state government. Sadly, the Quiz Competition did not get an affirmative nod from Audu’s government in time, and this affected the logistics surrounding mobilizing participants to Abuja for the competition.
However, the delegation led by Asuku managed to come 5th at National Stan Quiz Competition held at the International Conference Center, Abuja in 1999 even though they missed the first face of the competition which was a written examination to select the best students across the country For scholarship. His success stories would continue throughout his staying at AMCO before rounding up his secondary school education in year 2000. In 2002, Asuku gained admission into Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study Pharmaceutical Science.
His early days on campus was what most people would consider a boring life; as Asuku was irrevocably immersed in deep studies round the clock. During his first three years in school, Asuku could do nothing on campus asides studying and studying again. Amongst his few friends, he was referred to as a bookworm.
Despite the fact that the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences does not make use of the well known grading system; the first class, second, and third. Asuku maintained straight A’s in all his courses; as anything lesser than ‘A’ represented failure to him. In no time, a dramatic event happened during his third year when he began to observe some health deteriorations and had to visit the school teaching hospital on referral from the sick bay to run some tests. The Doctor in charge of his case then asked: “how many hours do you sleep in a day?” Asuku wondering what the question had to do with whatever that could be going on in his body struggled to respond
“I always had two hours of sleep in a day” The doctor frowned and lectured him on the importance of quality sleep. Then asked him to go back to his room, lock himself up and do nothing but sleep. It turned out that nothing was wrong with his health, but has only been depriving himself of good sleep over the years. Asuku then began looking for necessary distractions to occupy his time while away from studies. He ventured fully into student activisms and even ran for the position of the president of his faculty before the association was disbanded by the school authority.
He also became very active in the Student Union Government (SUG) of the institution before graduating in 2009, with distinction and among the top of the 25 students that made the first batch of graduates in the class of over 60 students. Upon his graduation from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Asuku proceeded to University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada (UATH) for his mandatory internship haven passed the entrance examination. Upon completion of his internship program, he proceeded to serve his father land in the federal capital, Abuja where he was posted to Garki hospital for his primary assignment in year 2010 to 2011.
He secured an employment with a just opened H-Medix pharmacy and super store branch at 48 Ademola Adetokumbo crescent as the first Superintendent Pharmacist to register the establishment in year 2011. Because of his professional prowess while working in H-Medix, he happened to establish personal relationship with some prominent Nigerians among who was Alh. Yahaya Bello, the popular Fair plus from his home town. Another prominent personality he met then was late Amb. Joshua E. Okpo the then Rector of Maritime Academy of Nigeria that was instrumental in securing a job for him at Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, as the Head of Pharmacy Department in April 2012 till 2015. Little does he knows that the relationship built with Alhaji Yahaya Bello during his short stay at H-MEDIX Abuja would launch him fully into the country’s political scene and to manifest his political acumen gathered over the years at ABU Zaria.
Following the declaration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello to contest for the position of the governor of Kogi State, Asuku keyed into the project and built a structure around it. He sets up his own campaign organization and financed it from his own pocket without getting a dime from the aspirant. He would constantly flew in from his station, Awka Ibom, to attend political meetings in support of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
Not knowing that Bello was noticing his commitment to serve and monetary contribution to his campaign, Asuku was dumbfounded when he was invited by Bello to inform him of his intentions to have him serve in his cabinet. And after Governor Yahaya Bello was inaugurated in 2016, Asuku was appointed the DG Protocol to the Governor.
“I want you to occupy a position where you will have an unrestricted access to me, always” these were the exact words of Governor Bello to Asuku. Progressing, Asuku was later appointed as the Chief of Staff to the Governor following the resignation of Edward Onoja in 2019. This made him the youngest Chief of Staff to a seating Governor in Nigeria.
A position previously occupied by the elites and elderly in time pass. As the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Asuku has demonstrated lots of tremendous and jaw dropping high quality attributes of a good leader. He has been able to inject a long list of changes in the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello, making his government the best so far in the history of Kogi State.
In 2020, precisely February 17th, four orthopedic and one spine surgeries were paid for in Kogi State by the Asuku Free Medical Outreach. The surgeries were carried out and all beneficiaries currently enjoying normal lifestyles. Also with his foundation, Pharm. Abdulkareem Asuku Youth Empowerment Foundation (PAAYEF) has over the years took responsibility for hundreds of students across the state with payment of WAEC, NECO, and JAMB fees.
Many students in Kogi State are currently in school today, all thanks to PAAYEF, and hundreds are enjoying a healthy life still accolades to the foundation. In different political camps in Kogi State, there has been whispers and murmurings about what is next for Asuku as regards to politics.
Some said he could cling the party’s ticket for Senate, others already believed him to be the best option to succeed Yahaya Bello in 2024. While the young Pharmacist cum Politician is yet to make his intentions known, all fingers are crossed.