If you’re like me, looking for information about the list of Nigerian Presidents from 1960 till date, then nothing is wrong with you.
Being inquisitive and wanting to know a big part of Nigerian government and history shows you’re a good citizen who wants to know his roots.
[Tweet “A group of people without the knowledge of their past history, origin is like a tree without roots”]
In this article, I’ll share with you the list of every notable men who have at one time been the President of Nigeria. You’ll find information about:
- Names and pictures of Nigerian president from 1960 till date
- The first president of Nigeria
- Who is the current vice president of Nigeria
- Who was the first civilian president of Nigeria and more…
I totally agree with Marcus because knowing our past helps us to shape our present; we can get inspired with some events and some of their actions or better still so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes our past leaders have made.
Our past is our foundation, it is our root and that is why I have decided to write and give detailed information about the list of Nigerian Presidents from independence till 2018.
Names and Pictures of Nigerian Presidents from 1960 to Date
If you didn’t know, Queen Elizabeth II was still the Queen of Nigeria and the head of state as at that time; I mean at independence which was on October 1st 1960.
She continued to rule alongside the Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the appointed Governor General, Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikwe until Nigeria became a republic on October 1st 1963.
It was then; Nigerian government had its first Head of state (more about that soon in this post).
Now I have here for you the list of all Nigerian presidents since 1963 and it starts with:
1. Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe
This is the first president of Nigeria’s first republic. He was born into Chukuemeka Azikwe family on 16 November 1904.
The Onitsha-indigene can speak languages of the three major ethnic groups (Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba) fluently due to his upbringing.
He was highly studious as he obtained two Master degrees from different universities after he finished his undergraduate studies in Howard University, Washington DC.
He is a well-known editor who controls over 12 different daily African-run newspapers. In 1960, he established University of Nigeria, Nsuka and served as Chancellor for University of Lagos from the year 1972 to 1976. He joined Nigeria’s people’s party in 1978.
He was the head of state from October 1, 1963, until he was removed from power, with his colleagues in January 15, 1966, military coup. He was president from 1st Oct 1963- 16th Jan 1966.
He left politics involuntarily on 31st December 1983 after the military coup. Chief Nnamdi Azikwe died on 11th May 1996 at University of Nigeria teaching hospital Enugu after which he was buried in Onitsha.
You should Read the history of Military rule in Nigeria; causes and impacts in this post of ours. You’ll get more insights into what the past looked like.
2. Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi
He became the second of all Nigerian presidents after Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe was overthrown. He was born on 3rd March 1924 in Abia state to his father Mazi.
He got his first name Johnson from the last name of his brother- in law who was a Sierra Leonean.
In 1942, he joined the army when he was 18 and he served the Nigerian army for 24 years.
The peak of his promotions in the Nigerian army was when he was promoted to the rank of Major General, making him the first indigenous Nigerian to head the entire Nigerian Army. Isn’t that interesting?
Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military head of state on 17th Jan 1966 until 29th July 1966 when a group of northern army rebelled against the government and assassinated him alongside Adekunle Fajuyi in the bloody July counter-coup.
He was Nigerian president from 17th Jan 1966 – 29th July 1966. Although his regime was short, he passed a considerable number of decrees.
3. General Yakubu “Jack” Dan-Yumma Gowon
General Yakubu Gowon is one of the Nigerian presidents who were overthrown.
He became the third President of Nigeria at the age of 32 after Major General Aguyi Ironsi was overthrown and assassinated. He was born on 19th October 1934.
This 5th of 11 children hailed from a small village in the present local government area of Plateau state but he had his early life education in Zaria. He joined the Nigerian army in 1954 and served for 21 years.
It was during his tenure that genocide claimed the lives of many (mostly Igbo people) by the Muslim Hausa and Fulani people. This we all know as the Nigeria Biafra war which lasted for 2 years.
This war led to the migration of the Igbo back to the east. It was also during his regime that Nigeria joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries precisely in 1971.
He was overthrown in a bloodless coup on 29th July 1975 by some group of officers who announced his overthrow.
This he must have received in shock because he was actually in an OAU summit in Kampala when the announcement was made. He was president from 1st Aug, 1966 -29th July 1975.
After his overthrown, the General left the country to get his Ph.D. in political science from the university of Warwick in the United Kingdom.
Seven months later, Nigerian government declared him wanted, stripped of his rank in absentia and had his pension cut off because he was suspected to partake in a coup d’etat that led to the death of General Murtala Mohammed.
However, President Sheu Shagari pardoned him but his rank as general was not returned until 1987 by General Ibrahim Babangida.
4. General Murtala Rufai Ramat Muhammed 30th July 1975 to 13th Feb, 1976
The same group of officers who announced the overthrown of General Yakubu Gowon appointed General Murtala Mohammed as the head of state and that was how he joined the list of Nigerian presidents.
The General was born to Risqua Mohammed on the 8th of November 1938. He obtained his school certificate in 1957 from a government college now called Barewa College.
He joined the Nigerian army in 1958 and in 1963 he traveled to Royal Corps of signal in England to study advanced telecommunications techniques.
He took power as the military head of state on 29th July 1975. While in office, he made plans and announced that in the future, the federal capital territory would be moved from Lagos to a federal capital territory in Abuja.
He took federal control of the country’s two largest newspapers (daily times and new Nigerian) and the remaining state-run universities.
10 days to his assassination he created 7 new states (Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Imo, Niger, Ogun, and Ondo) making a total of 19 states.
Unfortunately for him, he was killed at the age of 37 in his black Mercedes Benz while going to work from his personal house in Ikoyi on an early Friday morning in Lagos. (Dodan barracks to be precise).
Members of an abortive coup led by Dimka ambushed his vehicle and got him assassinated on 13th Feb 1976.
Today, his portraits adorn the #20 note and Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos is named in his honor. He was survived by his only wife Ajoke with six children.
5. Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo 13th Feb to 30th Sept 1979
Olusegun Obasanjo is also on the list of Nigerian presidents and he was born on 5th May 1937. He became an orphan at the age of 22. He joined the Nigerian army in 1950 and served for 21 years with several promotions.
After General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated, the Supreme Military Council appointed him as the head of state on the 13th Feb 1976.
His regime benefited from oil revenues that increased and this he used to improve urban infrastructures on a large scale.
As the newly appointed head of state, he set a date to end military rule. On 1st October 1979, he resigned as the head of state and also resigned from the army after which he handed over power to the newly elected civilian president Shehu Shagari.
6. Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari 1st Oct 1979 to 31st Dec 1983
Shehu Shagari, another one-time Nigerian president was born on 25th February 1925 in a Northern Shagari village to his father Aliyu in Sokoto state.
He attended teachers training college in Zaria, Kaduna state. He was the first president of Nigeria’s second republic.
He got into politics at the age of 26 and he won the election in 1979 under National party of Nigeria with their motto “One Nation One Destiny”.
I’m sure there are few parties back then compared to over 91 political parties in Nigeria we have today. What should we make of these?
He also enjoyed the revenue from oil which he used to launch many road networks. He also finished building Kaduna refinery just to mention a few.
Shehu Shagari was overthrown in a military coup on 31st December 1983 by General Muhammadu Buhari.
He lost one of his three wives in a brief illness on 24th August 2001 and he has many children and on 25th February of 2018 he celebrated his 93rd birthday.
More on the List of All Presidents of Nigeria Since 1960 to Date
Are you there? The list of Nigerian presidents still continues and next, in chronological order is Major General Muhamadu Buhari.
7. Major General Muhammadu Buhari 31st Dec 1983 to 27th Aug 1985
General Muhammadu Buhari was born on 17th December 1942 to a Fulani family of Chief Hardo Adamu in Daura, katsina state.
He lost his father at the age of four and he enrolled in the Nigerian Military at the age of 19. He served in the military for 24 years.
After he overthrew Shehu shagari in the military coup, his military rule enforced many new laws. First, he trimmed the number of ministries to 18 after which he decreed war against indiscipline and corruption.
Civil servants who failed to show up at work were forced to do frog jump, Nigerian citizens were forced to form neat queues at bus stops under the eyes of welding soldiers, just to mention a few.
In my own opinion, amidst all the Nigerian presidents, Buhari’s regime curbed Nigerians more. You can testify to that in his present rain as Nigerian President under APC political party.
However, because what goes around comes around, the major general was also overthrown in a palace coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1985.
General Ibrahim Babangida detained him in a small guarded bungalow in Benin City for good 3 years. He had access to a TV that showed only 2 channels and his family members were allowed to see him only on Babangida’s authorization.
8. General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida 27th Aug 1985 to 26th Aug 1993
Yes, General Ibrahim Babangida is also one of the Nigerian presidents to ever rule this country. He was born on 17th August 1941 in Minna Niger State to his father Muhammad Babangida.
He attended Government college Bida Niger state after which he joined the army on 10th December 1962. He served for 31 years.
After he overthrew Major General Muhammadu Buhari, he created 11 new states. 2 states (Katsina and Akwa Ibom) on the 23rd September 1987 and 9 states (Abia, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun, Kogi, Taraba and Yobe) on the 27th August 1991 making a total of 30 states.
Also, he executed General Murtala Mohammed’s plan to relocate the seat of the federal government from Lagos to Abuja.
He canceled the June 12, 1993, elections as it was unofficially announced that Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola popularly called MKO won 19 out of the 30 states.
He also reaped what he has sown as he was forced to step down on 26th August 1993 due to pressure from armed forces ruling council.
9. Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan 26th Aug 1993 to 17th Nov 1993
He was born on 9th May 1936 in Lagos. He attended C.M.S grammar school in Lagos after which he received a law degree from the University of London.
He is a seasoned businessman with a wild network. He was appointed by Babangida on 26th August 1993.
While in office, he released political prisoners. His administration lasted for only 3 months as he was forced to resign by General Sani Abacha. 3 months? That’s quite strange.
10. General Sani Abacha 17th Nov 1993 to 8 June 1998
Another person on my list of Nigerian presidents that ever ruled this country is General Sani Abacha. He was born 20th September 1943 in Kano.
He attended Military Training College after which he served in the military from 1963 to 1998. In 1990, he became the first Nigerian soldier to attain the rank of a full general without skipping a single rank.
Some records showed him as the most successful coup plotter in the history of the Nigerian military.
He overthrew the government of Ernest Shonekan and in 1994 he issued a decree that placed his government above the court jurisdiction.
While in office, he arrested Obasanjo for allegedly supporting a secret coup to overthrow him. He also hanged a human right activist with 8 others.
He died 3 months to his 55th birthday on 8th June 1998. He is one of the Nigerian presidents who got intoxicated with power.
The government identified the cause of his death as a sudden heart attack while the report has it that he was in the company of two Indian prostitutes imported from Dubai. It is thought that the prostitutes laced his drink with a poisonous substance, hmm.. ladies..
More on Names of Nigerian Presidents From 1960 Till Date and Their Date of Birth With More Pictures of Nigerian Past Presidents
Are you still with me? The list of Nigerian presidents still continues and next in chronological order is General Abdusalami Abubakar.
11. General Abdulsalami Abubakar 9th June 1998 to 29th May 1999
He was born on 13th June 1942 to his father Abubakar Jibrin in Minna. He studied at Kaduna Technical College. He served in Nigerian Air force for 3 years and served for 33 years in the Nigerian Army.
He was sworn in on 9th June after Abacha’s sudden death. His administration adopted a new constitution, allowed multiparty elections and lifted the ban on political activities.
He released Obasanjo from prison on 15th June 1998 and after assuming office, he promised to hold elections and transfer power to the elected president.
He established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and he fulfilled his promise by transferring power to the president elected Olusegun Obasanjo on 29th May 1999.
He is one of a few Nigerian presidents who willingly transferred power without any Saga. He is married to Fati Lami Abubakar with 6 children.
12. Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo 29th May 1999 to 29th May 2007
Baba Africa as he is fondly called is one of the Nigerian presidents who returned to power. As we’ve discussed earlier, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was appointed as the president of Nigeria on 13th February 1976 but he resigned after three years.
Baba Africa came back campaigning after he was released from prison in 1998. He campaigned under the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He defeated Olufalae and others and was sworn in on 29th May 1999 which ushered in the fourth republic. Look at him smart and elegant in that Nigerian native attire style. Chaii
His first tenure ended in 2003 and Baba Africa ran for a second term under the same party, PDP which he won by a margin of more than 11 million votes.
President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime was full of activities. To mention a few, he established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to tackle human and ecological issues in the Niger Delta region of Southern Nigeria.
Another which will forever be in the heart of Nigerians is the commissioning of MTN Nigeria’s digital microwave transmission in January 2003 as MTN became the first GSM network to make a call.
Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007 general election. He was married four times and God blessed him with twenty children.
13. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua 29th May 2007 to 5th May 2010 One of The Past presidents of Nigeria
The 13th Nigerian president was born on 16th August 1951 in Katsina into a Fulani family. He attended Ahmadu Bello University where he obtained a BSc. Degree in Education and Chemistry after which he went back to obtain his MSc. Degree in analytical chemistry.
He campaigned under the platform of PDP and he won 70% of the vote held on April 21, 2007. He was the first of all Nigerian presidents to declare his asset.
President Umaru was battling with Pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium (a fibrous sac surrounding the heart). He left Nigeria for treatment on 23rd November 2009 in Saudi Arabia.
While away, power was transferred to hisvice, Goodluck Jonathan as he was declared the acting president.
He returned on 24th February 2010 but he died on 5th May at Aso Rock Presidential Villa. He was survived by his wife, Turai’ Yaradua with 7 children.
14. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan 5th May 2010 to 29th May 2015
The ever lucky president was born on 20th November 1957 in Bayelsa state to a family of canoe makers.
He had a humble beginning as his early school days were with no shoes, no school bags, no generators but lantern. Yet, he finished secondary school and held a doctorate degree from the university of Port Harcourt.
He served as a science inspector of Education, a lecturer at Rivers state college of Education before he joined Peoples Democratic Party in 1998.
He became the first civilian deputy governor of Bayelsa state on May 29, 1999 after which he was re-elected with the Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in 2004.
On 9 December 2005, Jonathan, who was Deputy Governor at the time, was sworn in as Governor of Bayelsa State upon the impeachment of the current Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
He became the vice president in 2007 and he joined the list of Nigerian presidents after President Umaru Yaradua’s death on 5th May 2010.
In 2011, Jonathan and Vice-President Sambo travelled the country to campaign and the ever lucky president won the general election against General Muhammadu Buhari.
With his victory, so many parents in Nigeria started naming their children “Goodluck”. I hope the luck follows them too.
While President Goodluck Jonathan was in office, he renamed university of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University in honor of late MKO Abiola.
He signed into law same sex marriage prohibition Act. He removed fuel subsidy but he had security challenges which was majorly bombings from Bokoharam.
He lost the 2015 presidential election. Amidst all Nigeria presidents, he was the first sitting Nigerian president who humbly accepted defeat.
The story of Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure as president will not be complete if Mrs. Patience Faka, the ever bold, active, and supportive wife is not mentioned.
15. Major General Muhammadu Buhari – Is The President of Nigeria Now 25th May 2015 till Date
Hope u still remember that the incumbent president, General Muhammadu Buhari once served as the head of state in 1983 for 2 years.
He again showed interest in 2015 and campaigned under the platform of All Progressives Congress APC.
His performance during his first regime as a resolute anti-corruption fighter, and his incorruptible and honest reputation served as an advantage to him as Nigerians felt he was needed.
He won the election and he was sworn in on 29th May 2015 in a ceremony attended by at least 23 Heads of State and Government.
His administration has recorded numbers of achievements and Nigerians await more. This brings us to the end of the list of Nigerian Presidents from 1960.
On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, President Muhamadu Buhari declares June 12 democracy day. Yes, the nation’s Democracy Day will be holding on June 12 of every year, as against the current arrangement where the ceremony holds on May 29.
PMB is also on the list of all 2019 presidential candidates in the election slated for February 23rd, 2019.
Interestingly, President Muhammadu Buhari won the 2019 Presidential election with over 15 million votes against his strongest opposition – Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.
See more data and analysis of the final 2019 presidential election result here with information on registered voters, total votes cast, rejected votes and more.
You may also want to read President Muhamadu Buhari Victory speech after the Independent National Electoral Commission declared him winner.
Who Was The First Executive President of Nigeria?
I’m sure you remember Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikwe who succeeded Queen Elizabeth II. He was the first executive president of Nigeria’s first republic.
He was overthrown in the January 15 1966 Military Coup. As a prominent politician he was highly fortunate to have escaped assassination during the coup.
What saved him was the fact that he left Nigeria late 1965 as he was on a cruise to the Caribbean. It was the acting president that briefed him on the phone that he had been overthrown.
Who Was The First Civilian President of Nigeria
Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was the first civilian president. He entered politics in 1951, he campaigned under National party of Nigeria and he won the election in 1979.
Thanks to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who willingly handed over power to him. He ruled as the head of state for 4 years before he was overthrown by General Muhammadu Buhari.
Quick Facts About The First Military President of Nigeria
Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi was the first Military president of Nigeria. He became the first military head of state on 17th Jan 1966.
As soon as the coup plotters attacked the cities and Nnamdi Azikwe was announced overthrown, The Major General who was at that time the General Officer commanding the Nigerian army used the coup to quickly seize power.
He quickly made his own broadcast accepting the transfer of power to the armed forces. He created the supreme military council in Lagos and suspended the constitution thereby ending Nigeria’s democracy.
Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi was overthrown and assassinated by a group of the northern army who rebelled against the government and assassinated him alongside Adekunle Fajuyi in the 29th July 1966 counter-coup.
Military Rule in Nigeria, List of the Military Presidents That Ruled Nigeria in the Past
- Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi (January 16, 1966 – July 29, 1966)
- General Yakubu Gowon (August 2, 1966 – July 29, 1975)
- General Murtala Mohammed (July 29, 1975 – February 13, 1976)
- General Olusegun Obasanjo (February 14, 1976 – September 30, 1979)
- Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (December 31, 1983 – August 27, 1985)
- General Ibrahim Babangida (August 27, 1985 – August 26, 1993)
- General Sani Abacha (November 16, 1993 – June 8, 1998)
- General Abdulsalami Abubakar (June 9, 1998 – May 29, 1999)
Who Is The Vice President of Nigeria Currently?
Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo is the current vice president of Nigeria. He was born on the 8th of March 1957 and he is married to Oludolapo Osinbajo, a granddaughter of Obafemi Awolowo. Their marriage is blessed with three children.
The Vice president is a successful lawyer and a professor of law. He obtained a degree in law at the University of Lagos after which he went to the Nigerian law school.
In 1980 he attended the London School of Economics & Political Science, where he obtained a Master of Laws degree. He has also published a lot of publications and received many awards.
He belonged to the All Progressive Congress. He assumed office on 29th May 2015. As the acting president at that time, he managed the country well when the president was on a medical trip.
Now, Vice President Yemi Osibajo remains in office to serve Nigerians for the next 4 years, as he was elected alongside President Buhari under the umbrella of the APC
He is really working hard with the president to make the N-POWER job creation initiative a 100% success.
Before he became the vice president, he was richer than the current president. His net worth was #94 million and 900 000 dollars in his bank accounts with various shareholding in various private companies based in Lagos. Currently, his annual basic salary is #3.03 million.
Did you know that none of these Presidents in terms of stay in office cannot be compared to that of the longest serving African Presidents? Now you know.
President of Nigeria Salary
Yes, how much do Nigerian presidents receive as salary every month?
Over these years since Nigeria got independence, the struggle to reach the position of the first citizen of te country has always been tough in every election.
Learn more about the Nigeria president salary, and also the salary of governors and Nigerian senators in this post.
List of Nigerian Presidents (Summary)
Hmm, there you have my little history about Nigerian presidents from 1960 till today. You’ll agree with me that what goes around comes around.
You know why? How these people got to power is most times by a coup planning to overthrow the presidency.
Right from military rule to democracy, lots of lives have been lost but still many great things have been accomplished. As a Nigerian, now you know a part of your history.
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