13 Feb 2016

List And Biography of Nigerian Past Presidents & Heads of States


1. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1st Oct. 1960 – 1st Oct. 1966).

Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria (1963–66), was born on  November 16, 1904 to an Igbo parents; Obed-Edom Chukwuemeka Azikiwe (1879–1958), a clerk in the British Administration of Nigeria and Rachel Ogbenyeanu.

Nnamdi Azikiwe’s early education was at Onitsha, Anambra State. He later moved to Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, and Methodist Boys’ High School Lagos. Between the years 1925 and  1934, Nnamdi Azikiwe was studying in the United States of America at Howard University in Washington, D.C,  and Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, where he acquired a degree in Religion and a Masters Degree in Anthropology. 

In the year 1934 he founded a newspaper in Ghana. In the year 1937, he returned to Nigeria and became a politician; consequently, in the year 1944, he founded a political party called the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). With the support of the NCNC, Nnamdi Azikiwe was elected to the Nigerian Legislative Council, thereafter, he became the premier of the Eastern region of Nigeria, a position he held between the years 1954 and 1959.

Prior to the Nigerian Independence of 1960, Nnamdi Azikiwe led the NCNC into the 1959 federal elections. Being successful, he formed a temporary government with the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa the leader of NPC, became the prime minister, while Nnamdi Azikiwe became president of the Senate, governor-general, and, eventually, president.

In the year 1979, which is during the return to democracy, Nnamdi Azikiwe contested for presidency during the election and was unsuccessful. He immediately retired from politics. 

1(a). Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; (Prime Minister)(1st Oct. 1963 – 16th Jan.1966).

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the first Prime Minister of Nigeria. 

He born in the year 1912 in Bauchi, the then Northern Nigeria, to Bageri Muslim, the then district head of the Bauchi divisional
district of Lere. 

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa's earliest education was at a Koranic School situate in Bauchi, Bauchi State. Later, he moved to the Katina College, where he had his secondary education and obtained his teaching certificate. After he got his teaching Certificate, he got a teaching job at the Bauchi Middle School. 

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Later decided to further his education, consequently, in 1944 he got admission to study oversea at the Institute of Education, University of London. After concluding his education oversea, he returned to Nigeria, to assume the position of Inspector of Schools under the colonial government.

In 1946, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa joined politics. He contested and was elected as a member of the Northern Nigerian House of Assembly. In 1947, he became a legislator at the Nigerian's Legislative Assembly.

2.  Gen J.T.U Aguyi  (16th Jan. 1966 – 29th July 1966).

Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (deaceased) was born on March 3, 1924 to Mazi Ezeugo Aguiyi a native of Umuahia- Ibeku in the present day Abia State of Nigeria.
Aguiyi-Ironsi joined the Nigerian Army on February 2, 1942 at the age of eighteen. He underwent the military training at Eaton Hall, England and later, Royal Army Ordinance Corpse before been confirmed as a Lieutenant on June 12, 1949.

After his training in England, Aguiyi-Ironsi came back to Nigeria and was attached to John Macpherson, the Governor General of Nigeria as an aide. When Queen Elizabeth visited Nigeria in 1949, Aguiyi-Ironsi was assigned as Equerry to her after training for such task at Buckingham Palace.

During the Congo Crisis of the 1960s, Aguiyi-Irosi led the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army to Kivu and Leopoldville provinces of Congo. Having done his job successfully, Aguiyi-Ironsi was appointed the Force Commander of the United Nations Operation in the Congo.

When the British General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Nigerian Army, Major General Welby-Everard stepped down from that position, to allow the government to appoint an indigenous GOC, Aguiyi-Ironsi became the General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army on February 9, 1965.

After the coup of January 14, 1966, Aguiyi-Ironsi became the military head of state. However, On July 29, 1966, there was a counter coup that led to the eventual death of Aguiyi-Ironsi, as his body and that of Adekunle Fajuyi, the then military governor of Western Nigeria were later discovered in a forest.

3. Gen. Yakubu Gowon (1st Aug. – 29th July 1975).

Yakubu Gowon was born on October 19, 1934. He is from Plateau state Nigeria.

Yakubu Gowon had his early education in Zaria before joining the Nigerian Army. After joining the army, Yakubu Gowon was trained in Ghana and later in England. He later bagged his Ph.D from Warick University in 1983, and later became a professor of political science at the University of Jos.

Yakubu  Gowon was mobilized to Congo region as a member of the Nigerian peacekeeping force. Later, General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi appointed him the chief of staff after the military coup of 1966. In July 1966, he was selected as the military head of government, after a coup that removed Aguiyi-Ironsi from power.


On July 29, 1975, Yakubu Gowon was ousted from office as the military head of state while away in Uganda for an Organization of African Unity summit meeting.
4. Gen. Murtala Ramat
Muhammed (29th July 1975 – 13th Feb. 1976 ).
General Murtala Ramat Mohammed (deceased)was born in Kano State Nigeria, on November 8, 1938.

Murtala Mohammed is a graduate of Sandhurst Academy United Kingdom. He joined Nigerian Army after his graduation.

On July 30, 1975, Brigadier (later General) Mohammed became the  head of state after a coup that ousted General Gowon from office. 

On February 13, 1976 Murtala Mohammed was assassinated when he was only 37 years of age, alongside his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa, in an abortive coup attempt led by Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka. His car was ambushed on his way to his office at Dodan Barracks, Lagos. When the coup failed, Olusegun Obasanjo replaced him and brought his plan for an orderly transfer to civilian rule to completion by handing over power to Shehu Shagari on October 1, 1979.

5. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (13th Feb. 1976 – 1st Oct. 1979).

Olusegun Ọbasanjọ was born on March 5, 1938 in Ogun State, but he was raised up in Owu Abeokuta. Olusegun Obasanjo joined the Nigerian Army in the year 1958 when he was 21 years old. He was trained at the Aldershot and Defence Service Staff College, Wellington. He also trained at the Indian Army School of Engineering.

Olusegun Obasanjo served in Kaduna and Ibadan. During the Nigerian Civil War, he commanded the 3 Marine Commando Division that overcame Owerri, which action brought the civil
war to an end.

On July 29, 1975, after the successful military coup that brought Murtala Mohammed into power, Olusegun Obasanjo was made the deputy to Murtala Mohammed’s new government. After the attempted coup that led to the assassination of Murtala Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo became the military head of state. In 1979, Olusegu Obasanjo handed over power to the civilian government after the conduct of a successful election. This particular incident made Olusegun Obasanjo the first Military Head of state to transfer power peacefully to a civilian regime in Nigeria.

In the year 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo contested for presidency and won the election. Thereafter, he became the civilian president of Nigeria. In the year 2003, Olusegun Obasanjo was re-elected for a second term in office.

During Obasanjo’s regime, Nigeria’s GDP growth rate doubled to 6 percent until he left office. Nigeria’s foreign reserves also sky-rocketed from $2 billion in 1999 to $43 billion in 2007 when he left office. 

6.  Alhaji Shehu (1st Oct. 1979 – 31st Dec. 1983).

Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, Turakin Sakkwato was born on February 25, 1925 to the family of Magaji Aliyu and Mariamu both of Fulani extraction in the Northern Nigeria.

At the age of four, Shehu Shagari was registered in a Quranic School. From there, he attended a primary school in Yabo, and later attended Sokoto middle school, from where he went to Kaduna College, a school originally created to be a teacher training college. 

After the college, Shehu Shagari became a science teacher at the Sokoto Middle School. From there, he moved to Zaria Middle School. Thereafter, he became a headmaster of a primary school in Argungu. 

In 1946, Shehu Shagari and Mallam Gambo Abuja jointly formed the Youth Social Circle, a political organization that operated in Sokoto. Some Northern Elites of that time like Ahmadu Bello, Ibrahim Gusau, and Mallam Ahamdu Dabbaba supported the movement. In the year 1958, Shehu Shagari was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. 

Arround the same period also, he was elected to represent his constituency (Sokoto Southwest) in the parliament.  It is worthy of mention that in the year 1948,  the Youth Social Circle of Shehu Shagari merged with some other political groups to form the Northern People's congress, and in the year 1959, they won a national parliamentary election. In the years 1960 and 1962, Shehu Shagari was made the minister of  Economic Development and minister of Internal Affairs respectively. In 1965, he became the minister of Works and Survey.

When the military ousted the government, Shagari returned to Sokoto where held the position of a Councilor, representing Sokoto Native Authority. In 1970, Yakubu Gowon made Shagari the minister of Economic Affairs and that of  Finance. 

In the year 1979, Shehu Shagari won a presidential election and became the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between the years 1979 and 1983, before his government was overthrown by the military.

Shehu Shagari is married to Hadiza and Aishatu Shagari.

7. Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (31st Dec. 1983 – 27th Aug. 1985).

Muhammadu Buhari is a native of Daura, a Fulani town situate in
Katsina State of Nigeria. He was born on December 17, 1942. 

Buhari joined the army in the year 1962 and became the governor of the North-Eastern State during the regime of Murtala Mohammed. Later, he was appointed Minister or Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources during the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was created in 1977 Muhammadu Buhari was made the head.

On December 31, 1983, the government of the civilian President Shehu Shagari was removed in a coup d’etat,  Major-General Buhari was selected by the high ranking military officials to lead the country. The then Federal government, led by General Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon  introduced a public campaign against indiscipline known as "War Against Indiscipline" (WAI). This initiative was highly commended by Nigerians because it brought sanity to the system.

Muhammadu Buhari is admired by many for his uprightness and stand against corruption. His government was able to keep the country economically buoyant not withstanding its rejection of IMF loan and refusal to adopt IMF directives which include devaluation of the Naira. Muhammadu Buhari’s government reduced inflation by refusing to devalue the nation's currency.

However, the regime was also criticized for moves to silence critics of the administration, as decrees were passed curbing press freedom and allowing for opponents to be detained up to three months without formal charges. The regime also banned industrial actions such as strikes and lockouts by civil servants.

Later in time, Muhammadu Buhari was appointed as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a body funded from the revenue that accrued from the increase in price of petroleum products, to use for developmental projects around the country.

Buhari contested the Presidential election as the candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) in 2003 and lost. Gen. Buhari, In the 2007 April Presidential polls, again contested. His main contender then was Umaru Yar'Adua of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is also from the same state - Katsina and he lost.
In March 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party that he had helped to found. He said that he had supported foundation of the CPC "as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in his former party the ANPP".

Gen. Buhari was the CPC Presidential candidate in the April 16, 2011 general election, running against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and Ibrahim Shekarau of ANPP. Again he lost. In the year 2015, Muhammadu Buhari not deterred by his previous failures, contested for the Presidential election under the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and after a very tight race with the incumbent, His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari emerged the winner and was declared the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This was made possible because the Nigerian masses wanted change and they voted for change as Buhari had promised in his campaign that his regime would have a zero tolerance for corruption and he also promised to tackle youth unemployment, security and general infrastructure like electricity.

In 1971, Buhari married his first wife, Safinatu Buhari (nee Yusuf) (First lady of Nigeria December 1983-August 1985). They had five children together, four girls and one boy. Their first daughter, Zulaihat (Zulai) is named after Buhari’s mother. Their other children are Fatima, Musa (deceased), Hadiza, and Safinatu.
In 1988, Buhari divorced his first wife Safinatu. In December 1989, he married his second and current wife Aisha Buhari (nee Halilu). They also have five children together, a boy and four girls. They are Aisha, Halima, Yusuf, Zarah and Amina.

On 14 January 2006, Safinatu Buhari, the former first lady, died from complications of diabetes and She was buried at Unguwar Rimi cemetery in accordance with Islamic rites. 

In November 2012, Buhari's first daughter, Zulaihat Junaid (nee Buhari) died from sickle cell anaemia, two days after having a baby at a hospital in Kaduna.

8. Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (27th Aug. 1985 – 26th Aug. 1993).

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, a one-time military head of state of Nigeria was born in 1941 at Minna, Niger State of Nigeria. He is from the Gwari ethnic group.

Ibrahim Babangida's earliest Education is not known to Nigerian Biography, however, he was said to have attended  a Military School at India. 

After his military school, Ibrahim Babangida joined the Nigerian Army on December 10, 1962, and served in an administrative capacity under the military government of Olusegun Obasanjo. As a military officer, Ibrahim Babangida attained the following ranks: Second Lieutenant (1963), Lieutenant (1966), Captain (1968), Major (1970), Lieutenant Colonel (1970), Colonel (1973), Brigadier (1979), Major General (1983), and General (1987). Ibrahim Babangida also served as a member of the Supreme Military Council from August 1, 1975 – October 1979.

During the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida became the Chief of Army Staff and a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC). He eventually came into power as a military head of state.

9. Ernest Shonekan (26th Aug. – 17th Nov. 1993).
Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan was born in Lagos on May 9, 1936. 

Ernest Shonekan attended C.M.S grammar school after which he studied law at University of London in the United Kingdom.

Later he worked as the chief executive of United African Company PLC (UAC). 

On August 26, 1993, Ernest Shonekan was appointed the interim president of Nigeria by General Ibrahim Babangida. Shonekan only stayed in office for a transitional period of three months before his administration was toppled by General Sani Abacha who forcefully brought Nigeria back to military control on November 17, 1993.

10. Gen. SaniAbacha (17th Nov. 1993 - 8th June 1998 ).

Sani Abacha(Deceased) is a Kanuri man from Borno, but was born and raised in Kano, all in the Northern part of Nigeria. 

Sani Abacha got enlisted in the army and underwent some training in the Nigerian Military Training
College and Mons Defence Officers Cadet Training College, Aldershot, England. After his training, Sani Abacha was decorated with the rank of 2nd lieutenant in the year 1963.

In the year 1985, when General IbrahimBabangida became the military head of state of Nigeria, Sani Abacha was appointed the Chief of Army Staff. In the year 1990, he became the Minister of Defence.

On November 17, 1993, Sani Abacha organized a coup and toppled the transitional regime of Ernest Shonekan.

Sani Abacha died in June 1998 and was buried the same day. 

Sani Abacha in his lifetime was married to Maryam Abacha and they had seven sons and three daughters.

11. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (8th June 1998 – 29th May 1999).

Abdulsalami Abubakar was born on June 13, 1942 in Minna, Niger State of Nigeria.

Abdulsalami Abubakar had his primary education at the Native Authority Primary School Minna, after which he proceeded to the Provincial Secondary School in Bida, and finally to Technical Institute, Kaduna.

After this initial formal education, Abdul Salami Abubakar enlisted in the Nigerian Army where over a period of time, he became Chief of Defence Staff.

On June 9, 1998, Abdulsalami Abubakar became Nigeria’s military head of state after being persuaded to accept the position, when the former head of state General Sani Abacha died. 

On May 29, 1999, Abdulsalami Abubakar transmitted power to the civilian government in keeping with an early promise he made when he took over power.

12. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo29th May 1999 – 29th May 2007).


13. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (29th May 2007 – 5th May 2010).

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (deceased) was born into a Fulani Aristocratic family in Katsina State on August 16, 1951 and died May 5 2010. He attended Rafukka Primary School in 1958 from where he changed to Dutsinma Boarding Primary
School in the year 1962. 

He had his secondary education at Government College Keffi between the years 1965 and 1969. After his secondary education, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria between 1972 and 1975 where he obtained B. Sc., in Education and Chemistry. In 1978, he obtained his M.Sc., in Analytical Chemistry from his Alma Mater. 

Yar'Adua worked as a teacher at Holy Child College in Lagos between the years 1975 and 1976. Later, he became a lecturer at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology Zaria between 1976 and 1979.

Yar'Adua worked with the following organizations/companies: Sambo Farms Ltd in Funtua, Katsina State, Katsina State Farmers' Supply Company, Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology Zaria, Katsina Polytechnic, Katsina State Investment and Property Development Company (KIPDECO), Habib Nigeria Bank Ltd, Lodigiani Nigeria Ltd, Hamada Holdings, Madara Ltd, Vom, Jos, and Nation House Press Ltd, Kaduna.

In the year 1999, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua contested for the position of the governor of Katsina State and won. He was re-elected in the year 2003 for a second term.

In April 2007, he contested for the position of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and won.

On November 23, 2009, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua became very ill and was flown overseas to Saudi-Arabia. He was reported to be receiving treatment for pericarditis. His said treatment  prolonged that he was not seen in public again creating a power vacuum in the seat of the presidency. On January 22, 2010, the Supreme Court of Nigeria passed a ruling, charging the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to within fourteen days, decide whether Umaru Musa Yar’Adua  was capable of discharging the functions of his office.

On February 9, 2010, the Senate as a matter of necessity, transferred Presidential Powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, and have him declared the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with all the powers of the president, pending the return of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in full health.

On May 5, 2010, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died and was buried on May 6, in his hometown.

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is married Turai Umaru Yar'Adua and they had seven children (five daughters and two sons). Their daughter Zainab got married to Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari, a one time governor of Kebbi State. Another daughter of theirs' Nafisat is married to Isa Yuguda, The Governor of Bauchi State. Yar'Adua also married Hauwa Umar Radda as a second wife. Their marriage was blessed with two children.

16. Goodluck Jonathan (29th May 2011 - 28th May 2015).
Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan is a former president of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was born on November 20, 1957 in Finglas, Ogbia Local Government of Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria to Pa. Ebele Jonathan, a Canoe maker.

His earliest education were at St. Stephen's Primary School, and St. Michael's Primary School, both in Otuoke, Bayelsa State. After his primary school, he proceeded to The Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, Delta State, where he had his secondary education. He eventually got admission into the University of Portharcourt where he studied Zoology and graduated with Second Class Upper Division. He furthered his studies at University of Portharcourt and earned himself a Masters Degree (M.Sc.) in Hydrology and Fisheries Biology and later, a Doctorate Degree in Zoology. 

At various stages of his life, Jonathan served Nigeria in various capacities; he worked with the Customs and Excise Department as a Preventive Officer, as a teacher in a secondary school, as an Inspector of Science Education and thereafter as a lecturer in the University.

Apart from civil service, Goodluck Jonathan also served as a public officer in various capacities such as Assistant Director (Ecology) of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC) in charge of Environmental Protection, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State from May 29, 1999 until December 12, 2005, Governor of Bayelsa State, Vice President and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria until 2015.

Goodluck Jonathan is happily married to Dame Patience Faka and they have two children, Aruabai Jonathan (female) and Ado Aruera Jonathan (male).

Johnathan has received several awards including:

Best Performing Deputy Governor in 2002 by IPAN;
'Democracy and Good Governance award by the Nigeria Union of Journalists in 2004.
'Niger Delta Development Award';
'Distinguished Personality' Award in 2006
'Africa Leadership Award, 2006.
'Best Performing Governor in Education in the South-South' in 2006.
'Ambassador for Peace Merit Award' as well
Leadership and Good Governance Merit.
17. 29th May2015 -to date

President Muhammdu Buhari


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