Notable ABU Zaria Alumni: Barnabas Gemade

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Chief Barnabas Gemade, is a distinguished Abusite and elder statesman who is a former minister of the federal Republic of Nigeria, former National Chairman of two political parties, former presidential candidate and former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Benue North-East Senatorial District.

Engr. Barnabas Gemade who hails from Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria, was born on the 4th day of September, 1948 at Mkar, Close to Gboko, Benue State to Chief Gabriel Iyorher Gemade and Mama Mbatuhan Gemade.

Barnabas Gemade
Chief Barnabas Gemade

Barnabas Gemade Early Life and Education

He started his educational career at Mkar Demonstration School, Mkar in 1957 and obtained his First School Leaving Certificate, FSLC, in 1963. He entered the famous William Bristow Secondary School, Gboko in 1968, proceeded to Government College, Keffi in 1969-1970 for his Higher School Certificate, HSC. In 1971, he gained admission into the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria to study Civil Engineering and graduated in 1974 with Bachelor of Engineering, B. Eng. (Civil) Degree. He completed his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, at Western Nigeria Housing Corporation, Ibadan in 1975 as Graduate Engineer.

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In 1977, he was admitted for post-graduate studies at the City University London where he bagged a Master of Science, M.Sc. (Eng.) (Highway & Transport) Degree in 1978 and became Member, Institute of Highways & Transport, MIHT, of the United Kingdom. Engr. Barnabas Gemade became a Chartered Engineer by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, in 1979. In 1989, he became a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, FNSE, and in 1990 became an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Science & Technology, FNIST, Ibadan and became Honorary Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, FNIPR.

Barnabas Gemade Career

Prior to joining politics, Chief Barnabas Gemade worked with the Benue Cement Company and later became its Chief Executive Officer, from 1985 to 1992.

He was a member of the 1994–1995 Constitutional Conference established during the military regime of General Sani Abacha. He held the positions of Secretary (Minister) of Works and National Chairman of the Congress of National Consensus Party (CNCP), which was one of the parties sponsored by Abacha.

Chief Barnabas Gemade in a handshake with President Muhammadu Buhari
Chief Barnabas Gemade in a handshake with President Muhammadu Buhari

Following the death of General Abacha and the return to democracy in 1999, Gemade was elected National chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, in its first National Convention in April of that year. He succeeded Solomon Lar, the first chairman of the party. He was elected in part due to zoning rules which favoured giving the post to a northerner. However in the 2001 Convention, he lost the party’s chairmanship position to chief Audu Ogbeh.

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In the 2003 PDP presidential primaries, Gemade contested but lost to president Olusegun Obasanjo, who went on to be re-elected.

In April 2003 he was expelled from the PDP on account of alleged anti-party activities. The reason being that prior to the elections for Governor of Benue State he had opposed the candidature of the PDP candidate and instead supported the candidate of the United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP). However he was later re-admitted to the party and he went on to become a member of the Board of Trustees.

In the April 2011 elections, Gemade contested for the Benue North East Senatorial District senatorial seat pitting himself against his former ally Joseph Akaagerger whom he supported earlier in 2007. Gemade won the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

In 2015, Gemade defected to the All Progressives Congress(APC) where he immediately won the APC primaries for the senate and thereafter won the senatorial seat in the 2015 elections. He vied for the same position in 2019 under the Social Democratic Party SDP, but lost to a former Governor of the state, Dr Gabriel Suswan of the PDP.


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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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