Updated February 2020.
It is an established fact that Nigeria broke out from the shackles of colonization after a series of collective agitations by pre-independence Nigeria nationalists on October 1st 1960.
As the famous saying goes, a people without the knowledge of the history,origin, and culture, is like a tree without roots.
This is why we have composed a detailed article on Nigerian leaders from 1960 till date for younger generations to know more about their past leaders and their contributions.
Table of Contents
(16 November 1904-11 May 1996), was popularly called “Zik of Africa ” a well respected Nigerian Statesman. He was the first Indigenous Governor General of Nigeria and the first president of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966 when Nigeria became a republic. Azikwe was one of the major nationalist that strongly agitated for Nigeria’s independence. He is popularly regarded as the father of Nigerian nationalism.
Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
(December 1912 – January 15 1960) Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa the first Prime Minister of Nigeria was one of the founding members of the NPC party that ruled Nigeria in the first quarter of Nigeria’s independence. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa is regarded as the father of Nigeria Foreign policy. He was killed during the January 15 1996 military coup in Nigeria.
General J.T.U Aguyi-Ironsi
(January 15th 1966 – July 29th 1966.) J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi was the first Nigeria Military Head of State. Being the highest ranking officer after the January 15th 1996 Military coup, he became the Nigeria Head of States from 16th of January until july 29th 1996 when he was assassinated during a counter coup by a group of Northern Nigerian soldiers led by Major Theophilus Danjuma, Major Ibrahim Babangida, and General Murtala Mohammed.
General Yakubu Gowon
(born October 19 1934) was the second Nigeria Military head of State. Popularly known as “Jack” Gowon ruled from 1966-1975, he was the head of government during the Nigeria civil war. He was overthrown on July 29th 1975 while on an O.A.U summit in Kampala. Gowon government witnessed the post-war economic boom.
General Murtala Mohammed
(8 November 1938- 13 February 1976 ) General Murtala Muhammed was the 4ht Head of State of Nigeria. He ruled for about six months until he was assassinated in 1976.
General Olusegun Obasanjo
Is an elder Statesman and a political leader. Popularly known as “The Oracle of African Politics’ served as the Military head of state between 1976-1979. He took over power after the unfortunate assassination of his boss General Murtala Muhammed. Obasanjo later served as a civilian president of Nigeria between 1999-2007. Now regarded as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is widely respected for handing over power to civilian rule after a much prolonged Military era.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari
(February 25, 1925- December 28, 2018) Alhaji Shehu Shagari was the first democratically elected president of Nigeria after General Olusegun handed over power to Civilian rule. He was a well respected Nigerian Statesman.
General Muhammadu Buhari (born on 17 December 1942) is the incumbent Nigerian president. He was democratically elected into office in 2015 after 3 consecutive attempts. He previously served as a head of state after he took over power through a palace coup in 1983 and ruled till 1985. He was also democratically elected 2019 for a second term.
General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
(born 17 Aug 1941) known as Maradonna of Africa, IBB is a Military general that served as the Nigeria Military President from 1985- 1993. He resigned in 1993 after so much international pressure to hand over power to a civilian government. He masterminded several military coups in Nigeria.
Chief Ernest Shonekan
(born 9 May 1936) Is a renowned lawyer and businessman. He was appointed the interim president of Nigeria in 1995 by General Ibrahim Babangida. The Shonekan government was believed to be a very weak one because it was placed under the control of the military.
General Sani Abacha
( September 20 1943- 8 June 1998) was a de facto president of Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998. General Sanni Abacha was known as one of the deadliest African despotic rulers. He ordered the death of a popular activist Ken Saro Wiwa, 8 other Ogboni members and thousands of civilians.He is known for a great level of corruption and embezzlement that could be compared to that of Mansa Kanka Musa. He died in the office.
General Abdulsalam Abubakar
(born june 13, 1942) served as the military president of Nigeria between 1998 to 1999. He succeeded general Sanni Abacha after his death. He initiated the adaptation of a modified version of the 1979 constitution. He also handed over power to a president elect government on may 29 1999. He was recently made the chairman of the National peacekeeping committee.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
( May 29 1999- May 29 2007): we talked about the so much called “Oracle of African Politics earlier”. His second era in government brought about so many remarkable achievements in the country. Improved many government parastatals and revived a good image of Nigeria in the international Arena.
Alhaji Musa Yar’adua
(16 August 1951- 5 May 2010) Musa Yar’adua was declared the winner of the very controversial presidential election held on 21 April 2007. His tenure was however cut shot when he died after he returned from Saudi Arabia on May 5 2009.
(born 20 November 1957) popularly known as “A man without no shoes” is arguably the most respected past Nigeria president for handing over power peacefully to his successor in 2015. He acted as the acting president for months after the death of President Musa Yar’adua before he was duly elected as the president between 2010- 2015.
(born on 17 December 1942) much has been said about president Buhari in the preceding paragraph. Served as an head of State in 1983- 1985. He contested three times before he was finally elected through a democratic electoral process in 2015. He was also elected for a second term in February 2019.