Muhammadu Buhari

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Muhammadu Buhari
7th Head of State / President of Nigeria
In office
31 December 1983 – 27 August 1985
Preceded by Shehu Shagari
Succeeded by Ibrahim Babangida
Chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
In office
March 1976 – July 1978
President Olusegun Obasanjo
Preceded by Shehu Shagari
Succeeded by Ibrahim Babangida
Governor of the Northeastern State
In office
August 1975 – March 1976
Preceded by Musa Usman
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born (1942-12-17) 17 December 1942 (age 72)
Katsina, Nigeria
Political party All Progressives Congress
Religion Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Nigeria
Service/branch Nigerian Army
Years of service 1962–1985
Rank Major General

Muhammadu Buhari (born December 17, 1942) is a Nigerian politician and a retired Major General in the Nigerian Army who was the military ruler of Nigeria from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985.[1][2] The term Buharism is ascribed to the Buhari military government.[3][4] He also ran unsuccessfully for the office of the President of Nigeria in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. In December 2014, he emerged as the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, for the 2015 elections. His ethnic background is Fulani, and his faith is Islam; he is a native of Daura in Katsina State of Nigeria.

Marriage, Family and Personal Life[edit]

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) was born on 17 December 1942, in Daura, Katsina State, to his father Adamu and his mother Zulaihat. He is the twenty-third child of his father, Adamu. Buhari was raised by his mother, his father died when he was about three or four. [5]

In 1971, Buhari got married to his first wife, the former first lady of Nigeria, Safinatu (née Yusuf) Buhari. They had five children together, four girls and one boy. Their first daughter, was Zulaihat (Zulai) named after Buhari’s mother. The other children are Fatima, Musa (deceased), Hadiza, and Safinatu named after her mother, Buhari's first wife.[6]

In 1988, Buhari and his first wife Safinatu got divorced. In December 1989, Buhari got married to his second and current wife Aisha (née Halilu) Buhari. They have four children together. One boy and three girls. They are Aisha, Halima, Yusuf and Zarah.

On 14 January 2006, Safinatu Buhari, the former first lady of Nigeria and Buhari's first wife, died from complications of diabetes.[7] She was buried at Unguwar Rimi cemetery in accordance with Islamic rites.

In November 2012, Buhari's first daughter, Zulaihat (née Buhari) Junaid died from sickle cell anaemia, after having a baby two days before at a Hospital in Kaduna.[8]

Early Career[edit]

Buharl joined the Nigerian Army in 1962, when he attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna. From 1962-1963, he underwent Officer Cadets training at Mons Officer’s Cadet School in Aldershot in England, United Kingdom (Mons OCS was officially closed down in 1972).

In January 1963, Buhari was commissioned as second lieutenant, and appointed Platoon Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta, Nigeria. From November 1963- January 1964, Buhari attended the Platoon Commanders’ Course at the Nigerian Military College, Kaduna. In 1964, he facilitated his military training by attending the Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, United Kingdom.

From 1965-1967, Buhari served as Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion. He was appointed Brigade Major, Second Sector, First Infantry Division, April 1967 to July 1967.

Buhari was made Brigade Major of the Third Infantry Brigade, July 1967 to October 1968 and Brigade Major/Commandant, Thirty-first Infantry Brigade, 1970-1971.

Buhari served as the Assistant Adjutant-General, First Infantry Division Headquarters, 1971-1972. He also attended the Defense Services’ Staff College, Wellington, India, in 1973.

From 1974-1975 Buhari was appointed Acting Director, Transport and Supply, Nigerian Army Corps of Supply and Transport Headquarters.[9]

Other roles include:

From 1979 -1980, at the rank of colonel, Buhari attended the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States of America and gained a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies.

Governor of North Eastern State[edit]

In August 1975, after General Murtala Mohammed took power that year, he appointed Buhari as Governor of the North-Eastern State, to oversee social, economic and political improvements in the state.

In February 1976, the North Eastern state was divided by the then Military Government into Bauchi, Borno and Gongola states. In August 1991, Yobe state was created from Borno state, while Gongola state was split into two states, Taraba and Adamawa. In October 1996, Gombe State was created from Bauchi State.

Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources[edit]

In March 1976, the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Buhari as the Federal Commissioner (position now called Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was created in 1976, Buhari was also appointed as its Chairman, a position he held until 1978.

Head of State[edit]

Major-General Buhari was selected as Head of State to lead the country by middle and high-ranking military officers after a successful military coup d'etat that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983. At the time, Buhari was head of the Third Armored Division of Jos.[10] Buhari was appointed Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and Tunde Idiagbon was appointed Chief of General Staff (the de facto No. 2 in the administration). Buhari justified the military's seizure of power by castigating the civilian government as hopelessly corrupt, and his administration subsequently initiated a public campaign against indiscipline known as "War Against Indiscipline" (WAI). This policy won him national and universal applause, as a result of its effectiveness.[11]

Economic Policy[edit]

In order to reform the economy, as Head of State, Buhari started to rebuild the nation's social-political and economic systems, along the realities of Nigeria's austere economic conditions. The rebuilding included removing or cutting back the excesses in national expenditure, obliterate or remove completely corruption from the nation's social ethics, shifting from mainly public sector employment to self employment. Buhari also encouraged import substitution industrialisation based to a great extent on the use of local materials and he tightened importation.[12]

On 7 May 1984, Buhari announce publicly for the first time his administration's 1984 National Budget. The budget had in it::

  • A temporary ban on recruiting federal public sector workers
  • Raising of Interest rates
  • Halting Capital Projects
  • Prohibition of borrowing by State governments
  • 15 percent cut from Shagari's 1983 Budget
  • Realignment of import duties
  • Reducing the balance of payment deficit by cutting imports
  • It also gave priority to the importation of raw materials and spare parts that were needed for agriculture and industry.

Other economic measures by Buhari took the form of counter trade, currency change, price reduction of goods and services.

Foreign Policy[edit]

Buhari's Military government continued largely with the foreign policy they inherited from Shehu Shagari. In January 1984, in his new year broadcast speech, Buhari stated that he would maintain and enhance diplomatic relations with all countries and international organisations such as the OAU, UN, OPEC, ECOWAS and the Commonwealth of Nations. He also stated that he would honour all treaty obligations entered into by previous governments, which he did.

Buhari's foreign policy also focused on Africa, mostly Nigeria's Neighbours due to financial commitments.[13]

1985 coup and detention[edit]

In August 1985, Major General Buhari was himself overthrown in a coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida and other members of the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC).[14] Babangida brought many of Buhari's most vocal critics into his administration, including Fela Kuti's brother Olukoye Ransome-Kuti, a doctor who had led a strike against Buhari to protest declining health care services. Buhari was then detained in Benin City until 1988.[15]

Buhari's admirers believe that he was overthrown by corrupt elements in his government who were afraid of being brought to justice as his policies were beginning to yield tangible dividends in terms of public discipline, curbing corruption, lowering inflation, enhancing workforce and improving productivity.[16]

Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund[edit]

Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a body created by the government of Genera Sani Abacha, and funded from the revenue generated by the increase in price of petroleum products, to pursue developmental projects around the country. A 1998 report in New African praised the PTF under Buhari for its transparency, calling it a rare "success story".[17] However, the same report also noted that critics had questioned the PTF's allocation of 20% of its resources to the military, which the critics feared would not be accountable for the revenue.[17]


In 2003, Buhari contested the presidential election[18] as the candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). He was defeated by the People's Democratic Party nominee, President Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, by a margin of more than eleven million votes.

On 18 December 2006, Gen. Buhari was nominated as the consensus candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party. His main challenger in the April 2007 polls was the ruling PDP candidate, Umaru Yar'Adua, who hailed from the same home state of Katsina. In the election, Buhari officially took 18% of the vote against 70% for Yar'Adua, but Buhari rejected these results.[19] After Yar'Adua took office, the ANPP agreed to join his government, but Buhari denounced this agreement.[20]

In March 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party that he had helped to found. He said that he had supported foundation of the CPC "as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party the ANPP".[21]

Buhari was the CPC Presidential candidate in the 16 April 2011 general election, running against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and Ibrahim Shekarau of ANPP. They were the major contenders among 20 contestants.[22] He was running on an anti-corruption platform and pledged to remove immunity protections from government officials. He also gave support to enforcement of Sharia law in Nigeria's northern states, which had previously caused him political difficulties among Christian voters in the country's south.[11] However, he remains a "folk hero" to some for his vocal opposition to corruption. [23] Buhari won 12,214,853 votes, coming second to the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, who polled 22,495,187 votes and was declared the winner.[24]

Security Challenges[edit]

In May 2014, in the wake of the 2014 Chibok kidnapping, Buhari strongly denounced the Boko Haram insurgency. He "urged Nigerians to put aside religion, politics and all other divisions to crush the insurgency he said is fanned by mindless bigots masquerading as Muslims”.[25]


Major-General Buhari (rtd) has received several awards and medals. In alphabetical order they include:

  • Defense Service Medal (DSM)
  • Forces Service Star (FSS)
  • General Service Medal (GSM)
  • Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR)
  • Loyal Service and Good Conduct Medal (LSGCM)
  • National Service Medal (NSM)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Military Regime of Buhari and Idiagbon". Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Max Siollun (October 2003). "Buhari and Idiagbon: A Missed Opportunity for Nigeria". Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (22 July 2002). "Buharism: Economic Theory and Political Economy". Lagos. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Mohammed Nura (14 September 2010). "The Spontaneous 'Buharism' Explosion in the Polity". Leadership (Nigeria). Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Exclusive Interview With GMB - Buhari speaks to The Sun Newspaper". 
  6. ^ "General Muhammadu Buhari And His Late Wife, Safinatu". 
  7. ^ "General Muhammadu Buhari And His Late Wife, Safinatu". 
  8. ^ "General Muhammad Buhari loses 40 year old daughter, Zulai Buhari-Junaid to sickle cell". 
  9. ^ Solomon Williams Obotetukudo (2010). The Inaugural Addresses and Ascension Speeches of Nigerian Elected and Non-Elected Presidents and Prime Minister, 1960-2010. University Press of America. pp. 91–92. 
  10. ^ Matthews, Martin P. Nigeria: current issues and historical background. p. 121.
  11. ^ a b "Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari in profile". BBC News. 17 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  12. ^ Nwachuku, Levi Akalazu; Uzoigwe, G. N. (2004). Troubled journey: Nigeria since the civil war. University Press of America. p. 192. 
  13. ^ Nwachuku, Levi Akalazu; Uzoigwe, G. N. (2004). Troubled journey: Nigeria since the civil war. University Press of America. p. 197. 
  14. ^ "Muhammad Buhari (head of state of Nigeria) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  15. ^ Toyin Falola, Matthew M. Heaton (2008). A History of Nigeria. Cambridge University Press. p. 271. 
  17. ^ a b "Development: PTF - shining in the gloom". June 1998. 
  18. ^ "Nigeria: Facts and figures". BBC News. April 17, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Huge win for Nigeria's Yar'Adua", BBC News, April 23, 2007.
  20. ^ Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh, "Nigerian president picks ministers", Reuters (IOL), July 4, 2007.
  21. ^ Emeka Mamah (18 March 2010). "Buhari Joins Congress for Progressive Change". Vanguard. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  22. ^ "Summary of the 2011 Presidential election results". 
  23. ^ "Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari gains support as anti-corruption candidate in Nigerial". 
  24. ^ Festus Owete (April 21, 2011). "Congress for Progressive Change considers going to court and Buhari declare that he will make the Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan. Since then Boko Haram Sect have been bombing Nigerians". Next. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  25. ^ "BUHARI TO BOKO HARAM: You’re bigots masquerading as Muslims". 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Shehu Shagari
President of Nigeria

Succeeded by
Ibrahim Babangida