List of heads of state of Nigeria

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Nigeria

This is a list of the heads of state of Nigeria, from the independence of Federation of Nigeria in 1960 to the present day.

From 1960 to 1963 the head of state under the Nigeria Independence Act 1960 was the Monarch, who was also Monarch of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The monarch was represented in Nigeria by a Governor-General. Nigeria became a republic under the Constitution of 1963 and the monarch and Governor-General were replaced by a ceremonial President. In 1979, under the 1979 Constitution, the President gained executive powers, becoming head of both state and government. Since 1994, under the 1993 Constitution and the current 1999 Constitution, the head of state and government has been called the President.

Monarchs (1960–1963)[edit]

The succession to the throne of Nigeria was the same as the succession to the throne of the United Kingdom, governed by the Act of Settlement 1701.

Monarch Reign Royal House Prime Minister(s)
# Portrait Name Reign start Reign end Duration
1 Queen Elizabeth II - 1953-Dress.JPG Queen Elizabeth II
(1926–)
1 October 1960 1 October 1963 3 years House of Windsor Balewa

Governors-General[edit]

The Governor-General was the representative of the monarch in Nigeria and exercised most of the powers of the monarch. The Governor-General was appointed for an indefinite term, serving at the pleasure of the monarch. After the passage of the Statute of Westminster 1931, the Governor-General was appointed solely on the advice of the Nigerian cabinet without the involvement of the British government. In the event of a vacancy the Chief Justice served as Officer Administering the Government.

Status
  Denotes Chief Justice acting as Officer Administering the Government
Governor-General Term of office Monarch(s) Prime Minister(s)
# Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
1 No image.png Sir James Robertson
(1899–1983)
1 October 1960 16 November 1960 46 days Elizabeth II Balewa
2 Azikiwe-Commander-in-Chief.JPG Nnamdi Azikiwe
(1904–1996)
16 November 1960 1 October 1963 2 years, 319 days Elizabeth II Balewa

First Republic (1963–1966)[edit]

Under the 1963 Constitution, the first constitution of the Republic of Nigeria, the President replaced the monarch as ceremonial head of state. The President was elected by Parliament for a five-year term. In the event of a vacancy the President of the Senate served as Acting President.

Status
  Denotes President of the Senate acting as President
President Term of office Political party
(at time of election)
Prime Minister(s)
# Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
1 Azikiwe-Commander-in-Chief.JPG Nnamdi Azikiwe
(1904–1996)
1 October 1963 16 January 1966
(Deposed)
2 years, 107 days National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons Balewa

Military rule (1966–1979)[edit]

Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu led a coup d'état which overthrown the President Azikiwe and his government.

Head of State Term of Office Military
# Portrait Name Took Office Left Office Duration
2 JTUAguiyiIronsi.JPG Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi
(1924–1966)
16 January 1966 12 July 1966
(Deposed)
177 days Federal Military Government
3 Gowon.JPG General Yakubu Gowon
(1934–)
1 August 1966 29 July 1975
(Deposed)
8 years, 362 days Federal Military Government
4 Mohammedandakinyemi.jpg General Murtala Mohammed
(1938–1976)
29 July 1975 13 February 1976
(Assassinated)
199 days Federal Military Government
5 Obasanjo 1978.gif Major-General Olusegun Obasanjo
(1938–)
16 January 1976 1 October 1979
(Resigned)
3 years, 258 days Federal Military Government

Second Republic (1979–1983)[edit]

Under the 1979 Constitution, the second constitution of the Republic of Nigeria, the President was head of both state and government. The President was elected by for a four-year term. In the event of a vacancy the Vice President served as Acting President.

Status
  Denotes Vice President acting as President
President Term of office Political party
(at time of election)
# Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
6 Shagaricropped.jpg Shehu Shagari
(1925–)
1 October 1979 31 December 1983
(Deposed)
4 years, 91 days National Party of Nigeria

Military rule (1983–1993)[edit]

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari led a coup d'état which overthrown the President Shagari and his government.

Head of State Term of Office Military
# Portrait Name Took Office Left Office Duration
8 Major-General Muhammadu Buhari
(1942–)
31 December 1983 27 August 1985
(Deposed)
1 year, 239 days Supreme Military Council
8 Ibrahim Babangida (cropped).jpg General Ibrahim Babangida
(1941–)
27 August 1985 26 August 1993
(Resigned)
7 years, 364 days Armed Forces Ruling Council

Third Republic (1993)[edit]

The Third Republic was the planned republican government of Nigeria in 1993 which was to be governed by the Third Republican constitution.

The constitution of the Third Republic was drafted in 1989, when General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), the military Head of State, promised to terminate military rule by 1990 – a date which was subsequently pushed back to 1993. IBB lifted the ban on political activity in the spring of 1989, and his government established two political parties: the center-right National Republican Convention (NRC) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP). Gubernatorial and state legislative elections were conducted in December 1991, while the presidential election was postponed till 12 June 1993 – due to political unrest. MKO Abiola, a wealthy Yoruba businessman, won a decisive victory in the presidential elections on the SDP platform.

President Term of office Political party
(at time of election)
# Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
9 No image.png Ernest Shonekan
(1936–)
26 August 1993 17 November 1993
(Deposed)
83 days Independent

Military rule (1993–1999)[edit]

General Sani Abacha led a coup d'état which overthrown the President Shonekan and his government.

Head of State Term of Office Military
# Portrait Name Took Office Left Office Duration
7 No image.png General Sani Abacha
(1943–1998)
17 November 1993 8 June 1998
(Died in Office)
4 years, 203 days Provisional Ruling Council
8 Abdulsalami Abubakar detail DF-SC-02-04323.jpg General Abdulsalami Abubakar
(1942–)
8 June 1998 29 May 1999
(Resigned)
355 days Provisional Ruling Council

Fourth Nigerian Republic[edit]

Under the Constitution, the fourth constitution of the Republic of Nigeria, the President was head of both state and government. The President was elected by for a four-year term. In the event of a vacancy the Vice President served as Acting President.

Status
  Denotes Vice President acting as President
President Term of office Political party
(at time of election)
# Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
(5) Olusegun Obasanjo DD-SC-07-14396-cropped.jpg Olusegun Obasanjo
(1938–)
29 May 1999 29 May 2007 8 years People's Democratic Party
9[1] YarAdua WEF 2008.jpg Umaru Musa Yar'Adua
(1951–2010)
29 May 2007 5 May 2010
(Died in Office)
2 years, 341 days People's Democratic Party
10 Goodluck Jonathan World Economic Forum 2013.jpg Goodluck Jonathan
(1957–)
5 May 2010 Incumbent 4 years, 206 days
(as of 26 November 2014)
People's Democratic Party

Living former heads of state[edit]

Name Term/Reign Office Date of birth
Elizabeth II 1952–1961 Queen of Nigeria 21 April 1926
Yakubu Gowon 1966–1975 Military ruler 19 October 1934
Olusegun Obasanjo 1976–1979
1999–2007
Military ruler
President of Nigeria
5 March 1938
Shehu Shagari 1979–1983 President of Nigeria 25 February 1925
Muhammadu Buhari 1983–1985 Military ruler 17 December 1942
Ibrahim Babangida 1985–1993 Military ruler 17 August 1941
Ernest Shonekan 1993 President of Nigeria 9 May 1936
Abdulsalami Abubakar 1998–1999 Military ruler 13 June 1942

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Goodluck Jonathan was Acting President from 9 February – 5 May 2010