Nigeria's Former Presidents

nigerias_presidentNigeria, Sub Saharan Africa’s second largest economy is also the most populous nation in the African continent and accounts for 47 per cent of West Africa’s population. With a population of over 150 million people, the oil-rich nation blankets under a dark history that was marred by coups d'état, military aggression, corruption, human right abuses, inter-faith violence, media gagging, ethnic clashes, among other vices that were common with many post-colonial African states. However, after staggering from one coup to another since independence on October 1, 1960, the country had its first democratically elected president in 1999 in Oluṣẹgun Mathew Okikiọla Arẹmu Ọbasanjọ. Obasanjo’s election as President marked the first transition from a military to a democratic rule. His election paved the way for the return of a civilian leader to the country after 15 years of military rule.

Since then, Nigeria has never looked back in terms of its mode of governance and method of electing leaders. When Obasanjo left office in 2007, he was replaced by Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who won the April 2007 elections under the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP). The elections were however condemned by local and foreign observers, who alleged widespread vote-rigging. But in spite of democratic elections prevailing in the country, Nigeria has long been facing political instability due to violence emanating from the oil producing Niger Delta; it is generating wealth but the country’s people are yet to benefit from this. From Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe (held the top position throughout Nigerian First Republic) to Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (deposed by rebels after only 6 months as President), from General Sani Abacha, (the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993-1998) to Obasanjo, clashes in the Niger Delta remains one of the biggest quandary to any of Nigeria’s long history of Generals and Major-Generals who have occupied the nation’s Shangri-la.

Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe (November 16, 1904 – May 11, 1996), usually referred to as Nnamdi Azikiwe, or, informally and popularly, as "Zik", was one of the leading figures of modern Nigerian nationalism and the first President of Nigeria, holding the position throughout the Nigerian First Republic. His rule started in October 1 1963 before he was deposed on the 16 January 1966. His time in politics spanned most of his adult life and he was referred to by admirers as "The Great Zik of Africa". His motto in politics was "talk I listen, you listen I talk". The writings of Azikiwe spawned a philosophy of African liberation Zikism, which identifies five concepts for Africa's movement towards freedom: spiritual balance, social regeneration, economic determination, mental emancipation, and political resurgence.

Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (March 3, 1924, Umuahia - July 29, 1966, Lalupon, Oyo State) was a Nigerian soldier. He served as the Head of State of Nigeria from January 16, 1966 until he was overthrown and murdered on July 29, 1966 by rebels.

General Yakubu "Jack" Dan-Yumma Gowon (born 19 October 1934) was the head of state (Head of the Federal Military Government) of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975. He took power after one military coup d'etat and was overthrown in another. During his rule, the Nigerian government successfully prevented Biafran secession during the 1966–1970 Nigerian Civil War.

General Murtala Ramat Mohammed born (November 8, 1938–February 13, 1976) was a military ruler (Head of the Federal Military Government) of Nigeria from 1975 until his assassination in 1976. Mohammed opposed the regime of Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi which took power after a coup d'etat on January 15, 1966 carried out mainly by Christian Igbo from the south, in which several northern Nigerian leaders had been killed under gruesome circumstances. Murtala Mohammed was killed on February 13, 1976 in an abortive coup attempt led by Lt.Col Buka Suka Dimka, when his car was ambushed while en route to his office at Dodan Barracks, Lagos.

Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, Turakin Sakkwato (born February 25, 1925, [1]) served as the President of Nigeria's Second Republic (1979 - 1983), after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo's Military government.

Muhammadu Buhari (born December 17, 1942) was the military ruler of Nigeria (December 31, 1983 - August 27, 1985) and an unsuccessful candidate for president in the April 19, 2003 presidential election. His ethnic background is Fulani and his faith is Islam; his family is from Katsina State. Buhari was himself overthrown in a coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1985 and other members of the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC) ostensibly, because he insisted on investigating allegations of fraudulent award of contracts in the Ministry of Defence.

Major General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (born August 17, 1941), popularly known as IBB, was the military ruler of Nigeria from his coup against Muhammadu Buhari in August 1985 until his departure from office in 1993 after his annulment of elections held that year.

Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan (born 9 May 1936 in Lagos, south-west Nigeria) is a British trained Nigerian lawyer, industrialist and politician. He was appointed as interim president of Nigeria by 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 democratic institutions and brought the government back under military control on 17 November.

General Sani Abacha (Kano, 20 September 1943 – Abuja, 8 June 1998) was a Nigerian military leader and politician. He was the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. Abacha's government was accused of human rights abuses, especially after the hanging of Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Oputa Commission (only one of several cases against Ogoni activists opposed to the exploitation of Nigerian land by multinational oil companies); Abiola and Olusegun Obasanjo were jailed for treason, and Wole Soyinka charged in absentia with treason.
General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar (rtd.) (born June 13, 1942) is a Nigerian general who was President of Nigeria from June 9, 1998 until May 29, 1999. He succeeded Sani Abacha upon Abacha's death. It was during Abubakar's leadership that Nigeria adopted its new constitution on May 5, 1999, which provided for multiparty elections. Abubakar transferred power to president-elect Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999.

Oluṣẹgun Mathew Okikiọla Arẹmu Ọbasanjọ, (born 5 March 1937) is a retired Nigerian Army general and former President of Nigeria. A Nigerian of Yoruba descent, Obasanjo was a career soldier before serving twice as his nation's head of state, once as a military ruler, between 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979 and again from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007, as elected President. His current home is Abeokuta, the Capital City of Ogun State. Before Obasanjo's administration Nigeria's GDP growth had been painfully slow since 1987, and only managed 3% between 1999/2000. However, under Obasanjo the growth rate doubled to 6% until he left office.

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (born 16 August 1951), also known as Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'adua, is the 2nd President of Nigeria's Fourth Republic . He served as governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007. He was declared the winner of the controversial Nigerian presidential election held on 21 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. He is a member of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).

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