Nigerian Leaders (Past and Present)

Nigerian Presidents and Military Leaders since Independence (1960 till date)

Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1963 – 1966)

 

    • Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister (1963)
    • Born in Bauchi in December 1912
    • Trained as a teacher at the Institute of Education, Barewa College
    • Overthrown and killed in Nigeria’s first military coup on March 15, 1966
    • Buried in Bauchi
    • Fufulde by origin (North East)

Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe (1960 – 1966)

 

    • Governor General representing the Queen of England as Head of State (1960 – 1963)
    • Nigeria’s first and only ceremonial President (1963 -1966)
    • Born in Zungeru, Niger State, on November 16, 1904 to Ibo parents
    • Studied Political Science and Philosophy
    • Studied at Political Science at Lincoln University (1930)
      • Religion and Philosophy at Lincoln University (1932)
      • Anthropology and Political Science at University of Pennsylvania (1934)
      • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    • Elected into the Legislative Council of Nigeria in 1947
    • Leader of Opposition in 1951
    • Premier of Eastern Region in 1954
    • First indigenous President in 1960
    • Died on May 11, 1996 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu
    • Ibo by origin (South East)

Major General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi – 1966

 

    • First Military Head of State (January 16, 1966 – July 29, 1966)
    • Born March 3, 1924 in Umuahia, Abia State
    • Joined the Nigerian Army in 1942 as a Private
    • Trained as a soldier at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK (1955 – 56)
      • Staff College, Camberley, UK (1962)
      • Joint College, Latimer (1965)
    • Promoted Major General in 1964
    • Assumed office after Nigeria’s first military coup on March 16, 1966
    • Killed in a counter coup on July 29, 1966 after only 194 days in office
    • Ibo by origin (South East)

General Yakubu Jack Gowon (1966 – 1975)

 

    • Nigeria’s second Military Head of State July 1966
    • Born in Kenke LGA of Plateau State, in 1934
    • Trained as a soldier at Royal Military Academy, Sandhust in the UK (1955 – 1956)
      • Staff College, Camberley, UK
      • Joint Services Defence College, England
    • Led Nigeria through the civil war (1967 – 1970)
    • Ousted in a bloodless military coup led by Major General Murtala Mohammed in July 29, 1975
    • Nigeria’s longest serving leader (at a stretch) – was in office for 8 years, 362 days
    • Studied and obtained a PhD in Political Science from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, after deposition
    • Tiv by origin (North Central)

General Murtala Ramat Mohammed (1975 – 1976)

 

    • Nigeria’s third military leader
    • Born in Kano on November 8, 1938
    • Trained as a soldier at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK
      • Joint Services Staff College, England
    • Took over from General Yakubu Gowon on July 29, 1975 as Head of State after a bloodless coup
    • Assassinated on February 13, 1976 after a failed coup attempt led by Major Bukar Sukar Dimka
    • In office for only 199 days
    • Hausa by origin (North West)

General Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Obasanjo (1976 – 1979)

 

    • Took over from Murtala Mohammed on February 13, 1976
    • Born on March 5, 1937 in Owu, Abeokuta, Ogun State
    • Enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1958
    • Trained as a soldier at Mons Cadet School, Aldershot Military Academy in Hampshire, UK
      • Royal College of Military Engineering, Chatham, UK
      • School of Survey, Newbury, UK
      • Defence Services Staff College, Wellington
      • Indian Army School of Engineering
      • PhD in Christian Theology, Nigerian Open University
    • Commander 3rd Marine Commando, who supervised the eventual routing of Biafra soldiers and eventual end of the civil war
    • Chief of Army Staff in the Murtala Mohammed regime
    • Handed over power to a civilian administration on October 1, 1979
    • Returned as civilian President on May 29, 1999
    • Origin: Yoruba (South West)

Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1979 – 1984)

 

    • Nigeria’s first Executive President (October 1, 1979)
    • Born on February 25, 1925 in Shagari Village, Sokoto State
    • Trained as a Teacher
    • Joined politics in 1954
    • Elected member of the Federal House of Representatives
    • Federal Minister of Commerce and Industries (1958 – 1959)
    • Federal Minister of Economic Development (1959 – 1960)
    • Federal Minister of Pensions (1960 – 1962)
    • Turaki of Sokoto Caliphate (1962)
    • Minister of Internal Affairs (1962 – 1965)
    • Federal Minister of Works (1965 – 1966)
    • Minister of Economic Affairs (1970)
    • Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation and reconstruction (1970 – 1971)
    • Federal Commissioner for Finance (1971 – 1975)
    • Was overthrown on December 31, 1993 in a bloodless military coup d’état
    • Died on December 28, 2018 at the age of 93 years
    • Origin: Hausa (North West)

General Muhammadu Buhari (1983 – 1985)

 

    • Nigeria’s fifth military leader December 31, 1983
    • Born in Daura, Katsina State on March 17, 1942
    • Trained as a soldier at the Nigerian Military Training College, Kaduna
    • Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, UK (1962 -1963)
    • United States War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 1980
    • Defence Services Staff College, India (1973)
    • Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources (1975)
    • Governor of North eastern State (1975 – 1976)
    • Head of NNPC (1977)
    • Military Secretary 1978/1979
    • Commanded 1 Mechanised Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna
    • Chairman Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) (1995)
    • Ousted in a bloodless coup in August 1985
    • Joined politics in 2002 and became leader of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and later Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)
    • Contested Presidential elections in 2003 (ANPP), 2007 (ANPP) and 2011 (CPC) and lost to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
    • Contested again in 2015 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress and defeated the incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, of the Peoples Democratic Party
    • Sworn in as the sixth elected President on May 29, 2015
    • Origin: Fulani (North West)

General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (1985 – 1993)

 

    • Nigeria’s first Military President and 8th Head of State (August 1985 – August 1993)
    • Born in Minna on August 17, 1941
    • Trained as soldier at The Nigeria Military Training College, Kaduna (1962 – 1963)
      • Indian Military Academy (1964)
      • Royal Armoured Centre, UK (1966 – 1967)
      • Advanced Armoured Officers Course, Army Armoured School, USA (1972 -1973)
      • Command and Staff College, Jaji (1977)
      • Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji (1977)
      • National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos (1979)
      • Senior International Defence Management Course, Naval Postgraduate School, USA (1980)
    • Chief of Army Staff (January 1984 – August 1985)
    • Stepped aside under pressure in August 1993, after annulling a democratic election
    • Nigeria’s longest military ruler (eight years)
    • Origin: Nupe (North Central)

Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan (1993)

 

    • Head of Interim Government (August 26, 1993 – November 17, 1993)
    • Born May 9, 1936 in Lagos
    • Trained as a lawyer at the University of London in 1962
    • Industrialist and politician
    • Was forced to leave office on November 17, 1993 through a palace coup spearheaded by General Sani Abacha
    • Shortest ruler: only three months
    • Origin: Yoruba (South West)

General Sani Abacha (1993 -1998)

 

    • Seventh military ruler (November 17, 1993)
    • Born September 20, 1943 in Kano
    • Trained as a soldier at the Nigeria Military Training Centre, Kaduna (1962 – 1963)
      • Mons Officer cadet School, Aldershot, UK (1963)
      • School of Infantry at Warminster (1966 and 1971)
      • Command and Staff College, Jaji (1976)
      • National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos (1981)
      • International defence Course in Montgomery, California, USA (1982)
    • Chief of Army Staff (1985 – 1990)
    • Chief of Defence Staff (1990 -1993)
    • Defence Secretary (1993)
    • Died in office on June 8, 1998 in Abuja at the age of 54 years. Was buried in Kano same day
    • Origin: Kanuri (North West)

General Abdulsalami Abubakar 1993 – 1999)

 

    • Eighth military ruler (June 1993 – May 1999)
    • Born in Minna, Niger State on June 13, 1942
    • Trained as a soldier
    • Chief of Defence Staff (1993 – 1998)
    • Organised election that ushered Nigeria back to civilian rule
    • Origin: Nupe (North Central)

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (1999 – 2007)

 

    • Returned as the third elected President (May 29, 1999 – May 28, 2011
    • Conducted the first civilian-to-civilian handover
    • Origin: Yoruba (South West)

Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007 – 2010)

 

    • Fourth democratically elected President (May 29, 2007 – May 28, 2010)
    • Born on August 16, 1951 in Danmarna, Katsina
    • Studied Chemistry at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (B.Sc and Sc)
    • University Lecturer
    • Governor of Katsina State May 29, 1999 – May 28, 2007
    • Sworn in as President on May 29, 2007
    • Fell sick and presidential powers transferred to his deputy on March 9, 2010, in acting capacity
    • Returned to Abuja on February 24, 2010, but was not attending to duties
    • Died on May 5, 2010, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja
    • Buried in Danmarna, Katsina, on May 6, 2010
    • Origin: Fulani (North West)

Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (May 6, 2010 – May 28, 2015)

 

    • Acting President (March 9, 2010 – May 5, 2010) following the incapacity of the President
    • Substantive President on May 6, 2010 following the death of President
    • Contested and won the April 16, 2011 Presidential election
    • Sworn in as President May 29, 2011 and remained in office till May 28, 2015
    • Born in Otuoke, Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State on November 20, 1957
    • Youngest and most educationally certified leader – has PhD from the University of Port Harcourt
    • Education: B.Sc in Biology, University of Port Harcourt
      • M.Sc in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology, University of Port Harcourt
      • PhD in Zoology, University of Port Harcourt
    • Local Government Councillor
    • Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State (May 29, 1999 – December 8, 2005
    • Governor of Bayelsa State (December 9, 2005 – May 28, 2007)
    • Vice President of Nigeria (May 29, 2007 – May 5, 2010)
    • Defeated in his second term bid during the April 2015 Presidential election by the APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari
    • Origin: Ijaw (South South)

President Muhammadu Buhari (2015 till date)

 

    • Second coming, this time as civilian president (May 29, 2015 till date)
    • Second Nigerian to serve as both Military Head of State and Civilian President
    • Second also to be elected twice back-to-back as President
    • Military Head of State December 31, 1993 – August 1985)
    • Defeated an incumbent President and sworn in on May 29, 2015
    • Origin: Fulani (North West)