American University of Nigeria (AUN) is the first American-style University to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was founded in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State as ABTI American University of Nigeria (AAUN) by Atiku Abubakar in 2005. He has said that having benefited from the U.S. system of instruction as a young man, he was eager to make available in Nigeria an American trained faculty – emphasising critical thinking, small classes, student participation, and problem-solving. AUN has received special recognition from Google.
In 2012 Atiku Abubakar donated $750,000 to the National Peace Corps Association in the United States, "to fund a new initiative featuring global leaders who will discuss Peace Corps' impact." It was the largest ever individual donation in the Association's history. In his speeches and commentary Atiku Abubakar is a vocal advocate of the importance of Nigeria's educational system. In August 2013 he sponsored a students' essay contest to generate solutions to Nigeria's most pressing institutional educational challenges. Entrants were asked to write between 2,000 and 5,000 words on the topic 'More Learning to More People:
Upon the release of the dismal results of the May–June 2014 West African Examinations Council (WAEC) results, Atiku Abubakar said, in a statement: ″Our country’s educational institutions are clearly not providing quality learning. Our teachers need to be taught. This situation is a new development—of the past 10 years or so. The steady decline of education in Nigeria is a reflection of our country’s relegation of education to the background of national essentialities. That is where the change must begin. Teachers are important—as important as senators and doctors. Indeed, teachers determine the quality of senators and doctors. And so, the entire country stands to suffer the effects of this neglect in future. Nigeria must once again make education a priority. We must return to the basics.″ In a bid to alleviate the educational decadence in Northeastern Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar issued scholarship to 15 escapees of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping.
How can Nigeria be more innovative in bridging its literacy and skills gap?' A long list was announced on 21 October 2013, and the winners a week later. The joint first prize went to Kenechukwu Nneka Lily Nwagbo and Emeka Chigozie Ezekwesiri.