He was the first prime minister of an independent Nigeria. Born a commoner in the north of colonial Nigeria, he trained as a teacher. Balewa entered the government 1952 as Minister of Works, and later served as Minister of Transport. In 1957, he was elected Chief Minister, forming a coalition government between the NPC and the National council for Nigeria and the Cameroons, led by Nnamdi Azikiwe. He was overthrown and killed in a military coup on January 15, 1966, as were many other leaders, including his old companion Ahmadu Bello.
His body was discovered by a roadside near Lagos six days after he was ousted from office Balewa was buried in Bauchi. The Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in his honour.
DR. NNAMDI AZIKIWE : Born on November 16, 1904, he hails from Onitsha in Anambra State and died in 1996 at the University Of Nigeria Teacher Hospital, Enugu. His portrait adorns Nigeria’s five hundred naira currency note N500. He was one of the leading figures of Nigeria nationalism. He also espoused African nationalism liberation and emancipation.
Armed with a Master’s degree from the University Of Pennsylvania, US, Zik became an instructor at instructor at Lincoln University. He later joined the African Morning Post in Accra, Ghana as an Editor. He went on to become one of the leading lights of journalism in Nigeria, founding the West African Pilot and the Zik Group of Newspapers which published several newspapers across Nigeria.
Following a successful career in publishing, he went into politics alongside Sir Herbert Macaulay, he co-founded the National Council Of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) which later became National Council of Nigeria Citizens(NCNC). In 1947, Zik was elected into the Legislative Council of Nigeria and in 1951, he became the leader of opposition to the government of Obafemi Awolowo in the Western region House of Assembly in 1954, he became the premier. In 1960 he became 1st senate president.
GEN. AGUYI IONSI: JTU Aguiyi- Ironsi Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (1924- 1966) was a Nigerian Igbo political figure. He served as the President of Nigeria from January 16, 1966, until he was overthrown and killed in a coup on July 29, 1966. Major General J.T Aguiyi-Ironsi, Nigeria’s first military Head of State was born in 1924 in Umuahia, Abia State.
He later joined the Nigeria Army in 1942 as a private and was promoted Major General in 1964.
GEN.YAKUBU GOWON: He took power after one military coup d’etat and was overthrown in another. He remains the youngest person to have ruled the country.
His government fought to keep Nigeria one during the civil war(1967-1970), which broke out in the aftermath of the regional tensions arising from the January and July 1966 coups d’etat.
A Christian from Kanke Local Government Area of Plateau State, Gowon had a thoroughbred career before the circumstances of the time thrust upon him a leadership role. He fought in congo(Zaire) as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in 1960 to 1961 and in 1963.
Highlights of Gowon’s nine year old government included development of the country’s former capital, Lagos creation of 12 states, and expansion of government bureaucracy.
He is also remembered for his indigenization policy in 1972, which is dedicated to seeking the face of God for the good of the country.
An elder statesman in African politics, he is involved in the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme and the HIV Programme with Global Fund of Geneva.
GEN.MURTALA MUHAMMED: Was a military ruler (Head of Federal Military government) of Nigeria (1975- 1976). Mohammed opposed the regime of Johnson Aguiyi –Ironsi which took power after a coup d’etat on January 15, 1966.
On july 29, 1975, General Mohammed was made head of state by younger soldiers who wanted to ensure that Nigeria was returned to democratic rule.
The armed forces chose thirty- eight- years old Brigadier (later General) Murtala Ramat Mohammed, a Musli m northerner, to succeed Gowon.
A hausa, trained at the British military academy at sandhurst, murtala muhammed had command of federal field forces in the had played a prominent role in rallying northern offices behind the july1996 coup that fell ironsi.
Murtala Muhammed was however killed on February 13,1976 in an abortive coup attempt when his car was ambushed in traffic in lagos.
He was succeeded by chief of staff Olusegun Obasanjo, who completed the plan of an orderly transfer to civilian by handing power to Alhaji Sehu Shagari on October 1,1979. His portrait adorns Nigeria N20 currency note.
Read: Rulers of Nigeria since its creation
GEN.OLUSEGUN OBASANJO: He was a chief of staff during Muritala R Muhammed regime before he was named as a military leader in the country.He was the first military leader in the country. He handed over power to a civilian government, Alhaji Sehu Shagari, he became elected civilian president on may 29 ,1999.
The division he headed during the nation’s civil war, 3rd marine commando, helped bring the war to an end , when it took owerri, in the then eastern Nigeria heartland.
Obasanjo’s first time in power was marked by improvemaent in education, through the universal primary education policy and other programmes, and attempts to expand the country’s industrial base with huge revenues from the oil boom at the time, and the Operation Feed the Nation, a programme designed to encourage farmers in the country.
On October 1, 1979 handed power to Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Obasanjo was born on March 5, 1937 in Ogun State.
He grew up in Owu, Abeokuta, and enlisted in the Nigeria Army in 1958.He trained at Aldershot, a military city and centre in Hampshire, Southern Nigeria.
ALH. SHEHU SHAGARI: Nigeria’s Second Republic President, was the first elected president of Nigeria to exercise full executive powers, after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo caretaker Government. Shagari rose from very humble origins to the highest political throne in the country.
He taught briefly before going into Politics in 1954 as elected member of the Federal House of Repesentatives. He made housing, industries, transportation, and agriculture the major goals of his presidency, launching large scale housing programme that built estates, like the Shagari Estate.
In industries, Shagari completed the Delta Steel Complex in 1982, and invested heavily on the Ajaokuta Steel Complex and the Steel Rolling Mills.
Shagari initiated and Economic Stabilisation Programme meant to protect the country against any shortfalls in oil revenue after the highs of the 70’s and to guide the economy towards positive growth. Key objectives of the programme included reduction of import licencec and government spending and the upward review of custom duties.
He was born on the February 25, 1925 in Shagari village, Sokoto State. Shagari was considered a Champion of Democracy and Government due to his programmes target at improvement of the lives of the great majority.
Rampant corruption under Shagari’s administration, include an election marked by accusations of fraud, coupled with a decline in world oil price, led to a marked determination in the national finances under Shagari’s watch, while religious and political violence became so endemic that his overthrow by General Muhammadu Buhari on New Year’s Eve in the 1983 was actually looked upon with relief by most of the Nigeria Public at the time.
MAJ. GEN MUHAMMED BUHARI: Born on December 17,1942.His ethnic Background is Fulani and his faith is Islamic, his family is from katsina State.Buhari first came to limelight in 1975 when he became the Minister for Petroleum And Natural Resources under the then Head of State General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Before then he was the Governor of the newly created North Easthern State of Nigeria during the regime of Murtala Mohammed.he later became the head of the newly created Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in 1977.
Major General Buhari and Major General Tunde Idiagbon were selected to lead the country by middle and high rank military officers after a successful military coup d’etat that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari on December 31,1983.
Buhari was appointed Head of State and Commander in Chief, of arm forces and Idiagbon was appointed as Chief of General Staff(the Defactor #2 in the Administration. Buhari justified the military’s seizure of Power by castigating the civilian government hopelessly corrupt and his administration subsequently initiated a public campaign against indicipline known as “War Against Indiscipline” (WAI).
Later became the leader of the All Nigerian People Party(ANPP), contesting and losing presidential elections to the ruling PDP candidates in 2003 and 2007 elections.Also in 2011 he became the leader of CPC contested and loosed in presidential election to PDP.
GEN.IBRAHIM BABANGIDA: Born on August 17, 1941 in Minna, popularly known as IBB. He introduced the concept of military president into the Nigerian political lexicon and till date remains the country’s only military leader addressed by that title.
He maintained a firm grip on power and tried to abrogate the unpopular policies he inherited in office.
Babangida’s regime was popular for its liberal economic policies. He tried to introduce the culture of debate into politics, with the open deliberations that preceded his launching of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund(IMF) supported Structure Adjustment Programme (SAP).
He administered an eight years political transition prgramme that, though did not culminate in the enthronement of civil democracy but succeeded in throwing up new crop of leaders in various spheres of the country’s political life.
He departed from office under heavy popular pressure in 1993, after his annulment of elections held that year which were widely held to have been the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s Post Independence History.
CHIEF ERNEST SHONEKON: Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan was born on 9 May 1936 in lagos, South-West Nigeria. He is a British trained Nigerian Lawyer, Industrialist and political.
He was appointed as interim president of Nigeria by Nigeria General Ibrahim Babangida on 26 August 1993. Babangida resigned under pressure to cede control to a democratic government.
Shonekan’s transitional administration only lasted three months, as a palace coup led by General Sani Abacha via Shonekan’s “resignation” forcefully dismantled the remaining democracy institutions and brought the Government back under military control, on United African Company (UAC), a large Nigerian Conglomerate.
GEN.SANNI ABACHA: General Sani Abachi ( 20 September 1943 8 June 1988) was a Nigerian politician and military leader. He was the de facto president of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998
Political Life: Abacha was a muslim of kanuri extraction. He was instrumental in the two bloodless military coup d’etat brought and removed General Mohammadu Buhari from power in 1983 and 1985.
When General Ibrahim Babangida was named president and commander in chief of the armed force of the federal republic of Nigeria in 1985, abacha was named chief of army staff. He was later appointed minister of defence in 1990.
Abacha took over power from the caretaker government of chief Ernest Shonekan, which was put into place by General Ibrahim Babangida after his annulment of the 12 june 1993 elections (won by Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola) caused a massive popular uproar.Abacha’s government was accused of human rights abuses, especially after the hanging of Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Auta tribunal.
His regime suffered stiff opposition internally and externally pre-democracy activists who made the regime unpopular.
General Abacha died at the age of 54 of an alleged heart attck at the presidential villa Abuja, and was buried on the same day without an autopsy fuelling speculation that the General may have been poisoned by political rivals.
After his death, Sani Abacha’s name is often used in 419 scam letter as the source for ‘money’ that does not exist.
His Sudden Death: Here is a wide held belief amongst Nigerians that Abacha died due to a Viagra overdose.
General Abacha served during the controversial execution of Ken Saro Wiwa. On the 10th of November 1995, Saro Wiwa was hanged by Abacha, resulting in the immediate suspension of Nigeria from the commonwealth of Nations.
GEN. ABDULSALAM ABUBAKAR: Born June 13 1942, became Nigeria’s 8th military head of state in 1998. He was born in minna, Niger State in Northern Nigeria.He schooled locally and outside Nigeria, he also served locally and outside Nigeria, before he emerged as Head of State in Nigeria.
Abubakar is one of the few generals in Nigeria who rose to the top without holding political office. He has previously held Military Positions, and had , in general, stayed out of the political limelight. His wife, Fatima, was a high court Judge.
At the time of his appointment, He was just away from his 56th birthday on june 13.Abubakar was appointed head of state upon the sudden death of his predecessor, Sani Abacha.
He notably re-established the democracy tradition in Nigeria arranging for general corruption-free election that resulted in 1999 ascension of Olusegun Obasanjo as the democritically elected leader of the country as opposed to its previous rule(1976 to 1979) as inheritor of the power structure of coup leader Murtala.
GEN. OLUSEGUN OBASANJO: Obasanjo was born on march 5, 1937 in Ogun state.He grew up in Owu Abeakuta, and enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1958. He trained at Aldershot.
A military city and centre in Hampshire, Southern England.he was a chief of staff during Murtala R. Mohammed regime before he named as a military leader in the country.
He was the first military leader in the country to hand over power to the civilian government. He became the elected president on May 29, 1999.He also conducted the country first civilian to civilian hand over on May 29 2007.
He is the only Nigerian to have ruled twice as a military and later as elected leader..Political Party, People democratic Party, Spouse Stella Obasanjo(deceased)
ALHAJI.UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA: Umaru Musa Yar’Adua(16 August 1951-5 May 2010) Yar’Adua was born into an aristocratic Fulani family in katsina; he started his education at Rafukka Primary School in1962. In 1971, he received a Higher School Certificate from Barewa College.
He attended Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria from 1972 to 1975, attaining a Bsc in Education and Chemistry, and then returned in 1978 to achieve an M.Sc Degree in Analytical Chemistry.
Professional Career: Yar’Adua’s first employment was at Holy Child College in Lagos (1975-1976). He later served as a lecturer at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Zaria, Kaduna State, between 1976 and 1979. Board Chairman of katsina State Investment and Property Development Company(KIPDECO) between 1994 and 1996.Yar’Adua served as a director of many companies, including Habib Nigeria Bank Ltd.
Presidency: In the presidential election held on 21 April 2007, Yar’Adua won but strongly criticized by observers, as well as the two primary opposition candidates, Mohammed buhari of all Nigeria peoples party (ANPP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress(AC).
After the election, Yar’Adua proposed a government of National unity. In late june 2007, two opposition parties, the ANPP and the Progressive Peoples Alliance(PPA), agreed to join Yar’ Adua’s government.
On 28 June 2007, Yar’Adua publicly revealed his declaration of assets(becoming the first Nigeria leader to do so).
This disclosure, which fulfilled a pre-election promise he made, was intended to set an example for other Nigerian politician and discourage corruption.
ILLNESS AND DEATH: President Yar’Adua left Nigerian 23 November 2009, and was reported to be receiving treatments for pericarditis at a clinic in Saudi Arabia.
On 22 January 2010, the supreme court of Nigeria ruled that the federal executive council (FEC) had 14 days to decide on a resolution about whether he “is incapable of discharging the function of his office”.
On 9 february 2010, the senate decided that presidential power be transferred to vice president Goodluck Jonathan, and that he would serve as acting president, with all the accompanied powers, until Yar’Adua returned to full health.
The power transfer has been called a ‘coup without the word’ by opposition lawyers and lawmakers.
However, there are others that felt the power vacuum will lead to instability as a political military take over. On 24 february 2010, Yar’Adua returned to Abuja.
His state of health was unclear, but there was speculation that he was still on a life support machine. Yar’Adua died on 5th of May 2010 at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.An Islamic Burial took place on 6th Of May in his hometown.
DR. GOODLUCK JONATHAN: Early Life, Education And Personal Life: Jonathan was born in Otueke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the then eastern region, later River State, now Bayelsa State.
He holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in zoology in which he attained Second Class Honours, Upper Division.
He also holds an M.Sc in Hydrobiology/Fisheries biology and a Doctor Of Philosophy(Ph.D) in zoology from the University Of Port-Harcourt. He is married to Patience and has two children. Jonathan is an Ijaw.
Presidential Race: In December 2006, Jonathan was selected as running mate to Umaru Yar’Adua for ruling PDP presidential ticket in April 2007 election.
Vice Presidency: Following the PDP’s disputed electoral victory, militants blew up Jonathan’s country house in Otueke Bayelsa State on 16th May; two policemen were killed in the attack.Jonathan was not present at the time, after taking office, Yar’adua publicly declared his assets, and on 8th August 2007, Jonathan also did so.
Action President: On 13 January 2010, a federal court handed Vice-President Jonathan the power to carry out State affairs in the president’s continued absence. On 9 february 2010, the Senate determined that presidential power should be transmitted to the Vice- President.
He will serve as Acting President, with all the accompanied powers, until Yar’Adua has returned to full health. The Power transfer has been called a “coup without the word” by opposition lawyers and lawmakers.Jonathan remains the Acting president while Yar’adua continues ro recover.
President: Following Yar’adua death on 5th May 2010.Jonathan was sworn in as Yar;adua’s replacement on 6th May 2010, becoming Nigeria’s 14th head of state.
He will serve as president until the next election.He states that he came to office under very sad unusual circumstances.
On 18thMay 2010, the National assembly approved President Goodluck Jonathan’s nomination of former Kaduna’s State Governor, Nnamdi Sambo an architect, for the position of Vice-president on 17th March 2010.Jonathan dissolved the country’s cabinet while he appointed his own cabinet.
Elected President: On 16th April Jonathan emerged as elected president, and was sworn in 29th May 2011.The election was marred by bloodshed and the death of ten Corp members killed by suspected Boko Haram gang members.
PRESIDENT MUHAMMED BUHARI: In the run up to the 2015 Presidential elections, the campaign team of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan asked for the disqualification of General Buhari from the race, claiming that he is in breach of the Constitution.
According to the fundamental document, in order to qualify for election to the office of the President, an individual must be “educated up to at least School certificate level or its equivalent”.
Buhari has failed to submit any such evidence, claiming that he lost the original copies of his diplomas when his house was raided following his overthrow from power in 1985.
Buhari ran in the 2015 Presidential election as a candidate of the All Progressives Congress party. His platform was built around his image as a staunch anti-corruption fighter and his incorruptible and honest reputation.
However, Buhari stated in an interview that he would not probe past corrupt leaders and that he would give officials who stole in the past amnesty, insofar as they repent.
In January 2015, the insurgent group “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta” (MEND) endorsed Buhari in the Presidential race, saying he is the best candidate to lead the country.
Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign was briefly advised by former Obama campaign manager, David Axelrod, and his AKPD consultancy.
In February 2015, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo quit the ruling PDP party and threw his support behind the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket.
On 31 March, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan called Buhari to offer his concession and congratulations for his election as president. Buhari was sworn in on 29 May 2015 in a ceremony attended by at least 23 Heads of State and Government.