Meet Abdulaziz Atta, The First University Graduate From Northern Nigeria

by Opeyemi Alimi
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Abdul Aziz Atta was born on April 1st, 1920 in Lokoja. His father was Alhaji Ibrahim Onoruoiza Atta, a paramount traditional Ruler in Ebira land, Old Kwara State (Now Kogi State).

He was educated at Okene Elementary and Middle Schools between 1926 and 1935. In 1936, Mr Atta entered Achimota College, Ghana, and studied there until 1944 when he went to Balliol College, Oxford , England, graduating in 1947 in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

In the year 1948, Atta returned to Nigeria and joined the government service as Cadet Administrative Officer in the then Unified Nigeria Public Service. He served in Calabar, Opobo, Ikot-Ekpene and former Southern Cameroons, all then under the Eastern Region. He continued to serve in the Eastern Region even after the division of the Public Service.

He was District Officer in Umuahia before becoming the Private Secretary of Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe , Premier of the Eastern region. Thereafter, he was Secretary to the Agent-General for the Region in Britain; Training Officer in the Regional Ministry of Finance, Enugu; and Secretary for Anang Province.

Atta moved to the Federal Public Service as Administrative Officer, Class II, in 1958 and was promoted to Permanent Secretary in 1960, and headed in turn the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Industries and Ministry of Finance.

He occupied the important post of Permanent Secretary, Finance, from 1966 through the years of civil war with all its effect on the country’s economy . In December 1970, he was appointed Administrative Officer (Principal Grade) and became Secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of the Federal Civil Service.

Atta died on 12th June, 1972 at the Royal Free Hospital, London, after two years in the highest administrative position in Nigeria, and was buried in Kuroko.

Mr Atta, before his death, had four daughters and a son with his wife Iyabo Atta.

May Allah grant him Aljana firdausi.

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