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Home✔Nigerian AffairsList of all Nigeria's Presidents & Heads of State From 1960 Till...

List of all Nigeria’s Presidents & Heads of State From 1960 Till Date

This post provides a list of Nigeria’s presidents and heads of state from 1960 till present day.

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After Nigeria’s independence in 1960, she has had several leaders, who were as a matter of fact not all presidents. There’s been Monarchs, heads of states, military leaders and civilian presidents over the course the nation’s existence.

All the information provided on this page was verified on Wikipedia to ensure accuracy.

List of Nigeria’s presidents & Head of States from 1960 till date:

Queen Elizabeth

During the period Nigeria was subjected to Colonial rule, her official leader was the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II. She remained in power even after independence — until Nigeria became a republic in 1963.

During her reign, Nigeria had two Governor Generals — Sir James Robertson (October 1st, 1960 to November 16th, 1960) and Nnamdi Azikiwe (November 16th, 1960 to October 1st, 1963.

Nnamdi Azikiwe

Nnamdi Azikiwe was voted president of Nigeria by a parliament in 1963.

He Previously held the position of Governor General during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Under Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa held position of Prime Minister — making him Nigeria’s first prime minister.

Nnamdi Azikiwe’s tenure lasted from 19th October 1963 to 16th January 1966, contrary to the stipulated 5 year tenure. The cause of his ousting was a coup led by Major Chuckwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu.

Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi

Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi became Nigeria’s first military Head of State in 16th Janauary 1966. He held that position for 194 days until his assassination. After which, Yakubu Gowon took over.

General Yakubu Gowon

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He resumed office as Head of State on the 1st of August, 1966, after the assassination of Aguiyi-Ironsi. And his reign lasted for nearly 9 years — 8 years, 362 days to be exact. It was during his rule Nigeria prevented the secession of Biafra.

General Murtala Mohammed

General Ramat Murtala Mohammed resumed office on 29th July 1975, and maintained the position of Head of State until his assassination on 13th February 1976. Making his reign exactly 199 days.

Major-General Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo served as a military ruler from 13th February 1976 to 1st October 1979, after the death of General Murtala Mohammed. And it was under him Nigeria successfully transitioned into civilian rule, thereby ending a military rule that lasted for over 11 years.

Shehu Shagari

On 1st October 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected president of Nigeria, therefore became Nigeria’s first civilian president.

His reign lasted for 4 years, 91 days, until he was deposed on 31st December 1983 in a coup led by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari. And, as a result, Nigeria returned into Military rule again.

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari

Muhmmadu Buhari was declared Nigeria’s Head of State after leading the coup that ousted Shehu Shagari. However, his reign lasted for just 1 year, 239 days. His trip for a pilgrimage in Mecca led to him getting deposed by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

General Ibrahim Babangida

He resumed office on 27th August 1985, and his reign lasted for nearly 8 years. During his reign, he promised to move Nigeria back into civilian rule. However, all the processes was highly controversial. And it was during that period M.K.O Abiola lost his life.

Babangida resigned from office on 26th August 1993 and was replaced by a civilian ruler.

Earnest Shonekan

Earnest Shonekan took over from General brahim Babangidi after the latter’s resignation on 26th August 1993. His reign, however, lasted for just 83 days.

General Sani Abacha

On 17th November 1993, General Sani Abacha took over from Earnest Shonekan and remained Head of State until his death on 8th June 1998. He was replaced by General Abdulsalami Abubakar afterwards.

General Abdulsalami Abubakar

General Abdulsalami Abubakar took over office on 8th June 1998. During his leadership, Nigeria adopted a modified version of the 1979 constitution, which provided for multiparty elections.

On 29th May 1999, Abdulsami offered his resignation and transferred power to the president elect.

Olusegun Obasanjo

He took over office office on the 29th of May 1999. But, this time, as a civilian president. He was elected under the flagship of The People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Obasanjo’s reign lasted for exactly 8 years. After which, he surrendered power to another Civilian President.

Umaru Musa Yaradua

Umaru Musa Yaradua took over as president of Nigeria on 29th May 2007. He remained in power until his death on 5th May 2010.

Goodluck Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in to power on 5th May 2010. He formerly held the position of Vice President of Nigeria — which, according to constitution, qualified him for president upon the death of Umaru Musa Yaradua. Goodluck Jonathan was elected as president again in 2011 and remained in office until 29th May 2015.

Goodluck Jonathan: president of Nigeria 5 May 2019 to 29 May 2015
(Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria, under the flagship of APC (All Progressives Congress). He resumed office on the 5th of May 2015 and is the incumbent president of Nigeria.

President of Nigeria since 2015

There you have it… A list of Nigeria’s presidents and Heads of State from 1960 till date.

See table below for a breakdown of the list provided above.

Name Type of Government Period  in office
Nnamdi Azikiwe President 1 October 1963- 16 January1966
Aguiyi-Ironsi Head of State 16 January 1966 – 29 July 1966
Yakubu Gowon Head of State 1 August 1966 – 29 July 1975
Murtala Mohammed Head of State 29 July 1975 – 13 February 1976
Olusegun Obasanjo Head of State 13 February 1976 – 1 October 1979
Shehu Shagari Civilian President 1 October 1979 – 31 December 198
Muhammadu Buhari Head of State 31 December 1983 – 27 August 1985
Ibrahim Babangida Head of State 27 August 1985 – 26 August 1993
Earnest Shonekan Interim President 26 August 1993 – 17 November 1993
Sani Abacha Head of State 17 November 1993 – 8 June 1998
Abdulsalam Abubakar Head of State 8 June 1998 – 29 May 1999
Olusegun Obasanjo Civilian President 29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007
UmaruMusa Yar’Adua Civilian President 29 May 2007 – 5 May 2010
Goodluck Jonathan Civilian President 5 May 2010 – 29 May 2015
Muhammadu Buhari Civilian President 29 May 2015 – present day

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