Nigeria has gone through times and struggles that have shaped her through leadership from 1914. Passing from ruler to ruler over the course of 57 years since independence, Nigeria has seen the rise and fall of numerous presidents both democratic and military. Carry on reading to see the list of Nigerian presidents from 1960 to date.
- 1 Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe
- 2 General J.T.U. Aguyi-Ironsi
- 3 General Yakubu Gowon
- 4 General Murtala Mohammed
- 5 General Olusegun Obansanjo
- 6 Alhaji Shehu Shagari
- 7 General Muhammadu Buhari
- 8 General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
- 9 Chief Ernest Shonekan
- 10 General Sani Abacha
- 11 General Abdulsalam Abubakar
- 12 Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
- 13 Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua
- 14 Goodluck Jonathan
- 15 Muhamadu Buhari
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe
National President of Nigeria (October 1, 1960 – January 15, 1966)
Nnamdi Azikiwe, popularly called ‘Zik’, was the first president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was born in the year 1904 and died On May 11, 1996. Until his death, Nnamdi Azikiwe was an advocate of Nigerian and African Nationalism as a journalist and a politician.
General J.T.U. Aguyi-Ironsi
Military Head of State (January 15, 1966 – July 29, 1966)
General Aguyi- Ironsi was the first military head of state. He seized power following the January 15 military coup. He was born March 3, 1924, and was assassinated on July 29, 1966, by a group of Northern army soldiers who revolted against his government in the July Counter-Coup
General Yakubu Gowon
Military Head of State (1966 – 1975)
General Yakubu Gowon was born in the year 1934. He was the second military Head of State. He seized power after a military coup d’état and was overthrown in another coup. During his rule as Head of State, the Nigerian government successfully Biafran succession during the three-year civil war between 1967 – 1970. He is also the leader responsible for establishing the Nigerian Youth Service Corp (NYSC) to reconcile the nation. For this, his name was made into the acronym GO With One Nigeria.
General Murtala Mohammed
Military Head of State (29th July 1975 – February 13, 1976)
Murtala Mohammed was born in the year 1938, he was a military ruler until his assassination on February 13, 1976. He seized power following an overthrow of the government in 1975. Murtala played lead roles in previous coups and the bloody Asaba Massacre. He was also responsible for the change of the country’s capital from Lagos to Abuja and creating seven more states namely, Benue, Borno, Ogun, Imo, Ondo, Bauchi, and Niger.
General Olusegun Obansanjo
Military Head of State (1976 – 1979)
Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo was born in the year 1937. Following a failed coup by Lt. Col. Dimka, Obasanjo was chosen as head of state by the Supreme Military Council on 13 February 1976. During his, rule the nation saw an increase in oil revenue, industrialization, and education. Obasanjo resigned as Head of State and also resigned from the army on 1 October 1979, handing over power to the newly elected civilian president of Shehu Shagari.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari
Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1st Oct. 1979 – 3rd December 1983)
Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was born in the year 1925 and served as Nigeria’s second democratic president and only president in the second republic, following a handover from Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo in 1979. Shehu won the general election in 1983 but was overthrown in December that same year, by General Muhammadu Buhari in a military coup. At 93, he is the oldest living past President.
General Muhammadu Buhari
Head of State (1983 – 1985)
Muhammadu Buhari was born December 17, 1942. He came into power following the December 31, 1983, coup. Buhari justified the military’s seizure of power by branding the civilian government as hopelessly corrupt
General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
Head of State (27 August 1985 – 26 August 1993)
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida was born in the year 1941. Babangida was a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria. He finalized the relocation of the federal government from Lagos to Abuja and was attributed to the famous letter bomb killing of magazine editor, Dele Giwa. His regime saw failed coups as well as rise and fall of the Nigerian economy.
Chief Ernest Shonekan
Interim President (26th August 1993 – 17 November 1993)
Chief Ernest Oladeinde Shonekan was born May 9, 1936, in Lagos, Colonial Nigeria. He was an interim president, ruling the country for almost three months before a palace coup led by General Sani Abacha forcefully dismantled the remaining democratic institutions and brought the government back under military control on the 17th of November 1993.
General Sani Abacha
Head of State (19th November 1993 – 8th June 1998)
Sani Abacha was born in the year 1943. He seized power in November 1983 and was nothing short of a feared dictator. He issued a decree that placed his government above the jurisdiction of the courts, giving him absolute power. Another decree gave him the right to detain anyone for up to three months without trial. His regime saw tremendous economic turnaround however human rights were heavily abused. He died on June 8, 1998.
General Abdulsalam Abubakar
Head Of State (June 8, 1998 – May 29, 1999)
Abdulsalam Abubakar was born in the year 1942. He was sworn in as Head of State in 1998 following the death of military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha. Abdusalam had never held a public office, therefore, he quickly announced a transition to civilian rule the following year.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
National President of Nigeria (May 29,1999 – May 29, 2007)
Once a military Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo won the 1999 election making him the first president of the third republic. Under his administration, the country witness groundbreaking development such as the introduction of telecommunication and mobile phones.
Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua
National President (May 29, 2007 – May 5, 2010)
Umaru Musa Yar’adua was born 16 August 1951. He was a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The peaceful president struggled with various health issues over the years and succumbed to them as he died in office May 5, 2010.
Vice President and Acting National President (May 6, 2010 – May 2011)
National President of Nigeria (May 2011 – May 29, 2015)
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was born 20 November 1957. He is nothing short of lucky. A leader who has always mounted power due to the demise or apprehension of his superior, Goodluck Jonathan served as acting president following the passing of the elected president, Umar Musa Yar’Adua. Amidst controversies, he captured the heart of the nation and become the third president of the third republic
National President of Nigeria (May 29, 2015 – Date)
Muhammadu Buhari is the current president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Once a military Head of State, Buhari won the 2015 election under the All Progressive Congress (APC), campaigning ‘Change’