President of Nigeria

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President of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Presidential Standard of Nigeria.svg
Seal of the President of Nigeria.svg
Goodluck Jonathan World Economic Forum 2013.jpg
Goodluck Jonathan

since 6 May 2010
Residence Aso Rock Presidential Villa
Appointer Direct Popular Election
Term length Four years, renewable once
Inaugural holder Nnamdi Azikiwe
Formation 1 October 1963
Former standard of the President
Flag of the President as Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces
Flag of Nigeria.svg
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The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the head of state and head of the national executive of Nigeria. The President of Nigeria is also the commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The current President of Nigeria is Goodluck Jonathan, who was sworn into office in May 2010.


On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Britain. An all-Nigerian Executive Council was headed by a Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. On November 16, 1960, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, became the first Governor-General of a Federation of three Regions of the North, East and West, with Lagos as the Federal Capital. Each of the Regions was headed by a Premier with a Governor as Ceremonial Head. On October 1, 1963, Nigeria became a Federal Republic and severed whatever ties were left with Britain. Nigeria decided, however, to remain in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Governor-General's position was, therefore, re-designated as President.

In January 1966, a group of army officers, led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, overthrew the central and regional governments, killed the prime minister, tried to take control of the government in a failed coup d'état. Nzeogwu was countered, captured and imprisoned by General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi. General Aguiyi-Ironsi was named Military Head of State.

On 12 July 1966, a group of northern army officers revolted against the government, killed General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, and appointed the army chief of staff, General Yakubu Gowon as the head of the new military government.

On 29 July 1975, Gen. Yakubu Gowon was deposed and General Murtala Mohammed was the Head of the Federal Military Government until his assassination on 13 February 1976 making his rule the shortest military regime Nigeria ever had lasting just 6 months and 15 days. The actual shortest government in the history of Nigeria to date (2014) was that of Ernest Shoneken (see below) who led the Interim National Government (ING) appointed by Gen. Babangida on his 'step down' in August 1993. The ING last for 83 days.

After the assassination, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was made head of state in a meeting of the Supreme Military Council. Keeping the chain of command established by Murtala Muhammed in place.

In 1979, Nigeria adopted a constitution that was modelled on the Constitution of the United States, with provision for a President, Senate, and House of Representatives.

On 1 October 1979, after more than 13 years of military rule, Nigeria was returned to democratic rule led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), as President of the [second] Republic. The National Party of Nigeria emerged victorious in the presidential election and Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected President.

However, on December 31, 1983, after Shehu Shagari was returned for a second term in the earlier election in October, but the military overthrew the Second Republic government, citing extensive corruption. Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the Chairman of the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the new Head of State and as such, the President. Buhari never got or promoted himself to a full army General, therefore also making him the lowest in military rank to have ruled Nigeria.

In August 1985, the Maj. Gen. Buhari government was peacefully overthrown by the then Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. Babangida became the President and chairman Armed Forces Ruling Council.

On June 12, 1993, Nigeria held a presidential election to return to a democratic civilian rule. However, Gen Babangida annulled the results, although it was lauded as the fairest election in the history of Nigeria by observers and still to be beaten (by 2014) but no conclusive results were ever released thereby stopping the presumed winner, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (popularly known as M.K.O. or M.K.O. Abiola or Abiola), a wealthy businessman from assuming office as the President of Nigeria. This lead to a widespread demonstration which involved violent clashes between government security agencies and protesters, mostly Abiola's supporters. The protests were largely domiciled in Lagos, by the then already former capital but very important and still the financial capital of Nigeria. There were also flashes of protests and clashes in many other cities but nothing compared to the carnage in Lagos.

Following the widespread unrest, General Babangida announces that he will and did 'step down' on August 12 - exactly 2 months after the election - and imposed an Interim National Government (mainly referred to in Nigeria then as ING). Ernest Shonekan was named as the interim president. However, Gen. Sani Abacha seizes power from Shonekan in November 1993, and became the president and Chairman of Provisional Ruling Council. On 8 June 1998, General Abacha dies at the presidential villa in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar became the new president and Chairman Provisional Ruling Council.

In May 1999, Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar steps down and the former military head of state Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo became the newly elected civilian president. Gen Obasanjo served two terms in office.

In May 2007, Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua was sworn in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the 13th head of state of Nigeria. Yar'Adua died on 5 May 2010 in the Presidential villa, in Abuja, Nigeria.

On 6 May 2010 the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the 14th head of state.

Functions of the President of Nigeria[edit]

The President has the powers entrusted by the Constitution and legislation, including those necessary to perform the functions of Head of State and head of the national executive.

The President is responsible for:

  • assenting to and signing Bills
  • referring a Bill back to the National Assembly for reconsideration of the Bill's constitutionality
  • referring a Bill to the Constitutional Court for a decision on the Bill's constitutionality
  • summoning the National Assembly, or Parliament to an extraordinary sitting to conduct special business
  • making any appointments that the Constitution or legislation requires the President to make, other than as head of the national executive
  • appointing commissions of inquiry
  • calling a national referendum in terms of an Act of Parliament
  • receiving and recognising foreign diplomatic and consular representatives
  • appointing ambassadors, plenipotentiaries, and diplomatic and consular representatives
  • pardoning or reprieving offenders and remitting any fines, penalties or forfeitures
  • conferring honours


A person shall be eligible for the office of President if he or she is a citizen of Nigeria, at least 40 years of age, is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party. The constitution limits the President to only two terms of four years each in office.

Oath of office[edit]

The Constitution of Nigeria specifies an oath of office for the President of the federation. The oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria or the person for the time being appointed to exercise the functions of that office:

See also[edit]