Abdulsalami Abubakar

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Abdulsalami A. Abubakar
Abdulsalami Abubakar detail DF-SC-02-04323.jpg
Abubakar at the UN on 24 September 1998
11th Head of State of Nigeria
In office
9 June 1998 – 29 May 1999
Vice President Vice-Adm. Mike Akhigbe as Chief of General Staff
Preceded by Sani Abacha
Succeeded by Olusegun Obasanjo
Chief of Defence Staff
In office
Preceded by Oladipo Diya
Succeeded by Al-Amin Daggash
Personal details
Born (1942-06-13) 13 June 1942 (age 75)
Minna, Northern Region, British Nigeria
(now Minna, Niger State, Nigeria)
Political party none (military)
Spouse(s) Fati Lami Abubakar
Children six
Alma mater Technical Institute, Kaduna
Occupation Soldier
Military service
Allegiance  Nigeria
Service/branch NAF LOGO.jpg Nigerian Air Force
Flag of the Nigerian Army Headquarters.svg Nigerian Army
Years of service 1963–1966 (Air Force)
1966–1999 (Army)
Rank General

Abdulsalami Abubakar (/ˌɑːbdulsəˈlæmi ˌɑːbuˈbɑːkɑːr/; born June 13, 1942) is a retired Nigerian Army General who was military President of Nigeria from 9 June 1998 until 29 May 1999. He succeeded Sani Abacha upon Abacha's death. It was during Abubakar's leadership that Nigeria adopted its new constitution on 5 May 1999, which provided for multiparty elections. Abubakar transferred power to president-elect Olusegun Obasanjo on 29 May 1999.

Early life[edit]

Abdulsalami Abubakar was born on 13 June 1942 to his father Abubakar Jibrin and his mother Fatikande Mohammed, in Minna, Niger state, Nigeria. From 1950-1956 he attended Minna Native Authority Primary school. From 1957-1962, he had his secondary school education at Government College, Bida, Niger state. From January to October 1963 he studied at Kaduna Technical College.

Military careers[edit]

Air force career[edit]

Abdulsalami Abubakar is a member of the pioneering sets of officer cadets who enlisted into the Nigerian Air force on 3 October 1963. From 1964- 1966, he was flown to Uetersen, Western Germany with a team of officer cadets, for Basic and Advance Military Training. When he returned to Nigeria in 1966 he was seconded to the Nigeria Army.[1]

Army career[edit]

After joining the army in 1966 as an officer cadet, Abubakar attended the emergency combatant short service course two. In october 1967, Abubakar was commissioned second lieutenant, infantry division, Nigerian army.

From 1967-1968, Abubakar was general staff officer two, second garrison, and commanding officer, 92 infantry battalion from 1969-1974. Between 1974 and 1975, he was made brigade major, 7th infantry brigade.

In 1975 he served as commanding officer, 84 infantry batallion. In 1978-1979, Abubakar was commanding officer for the 145 infantry battalion (NIBATT II), United Nations Interim force, Lebanon.

In 1979 he was made assistant adjutant general 3rd Infantry division, Nigeria. From 1980-1982, Abubakar was chief instructor at the Nigerian Defence Academy.

In 1982 he was appointed as the colonel of administration and quartering, 1st mechanised division. A position he held up until 1984.

From 1985-1986, Abubakar was the commander 3rd mechanised brigade. He served as the military secretary of the army, 1986–1988.

Abubakar was made general officer commanding 1st mechanised division 1990-1991. Between 1991-1993, he was the principal staff officer, as the army chief of plan and policy, Defence Headquarters.

From 1993-1998, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha appointed Abubakar as the Chief of Defence Staff, Defence Headquarters.

Upon Abacha’s death on 8 June 1998, Abdulsalami Abubakar took power as the military president of Nigeria and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces on 9 June 1998.

In May 1999 General Abubakar, handed over power to the newly elected civilian president, Olusegun Obasanjo and retired from the army.[2]


Nigeria had been ruled by military leaders since Muhammadu Buhari seized power from Shehu Shagari in a 1983 coup.[3] Although democratic elections had been held in 1993, they were annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida. Reported to have had an initial reluctance to accepting the position,[4] Abubakar was sworn in as president on 9 June 1998 after the unexpected death of Abacha. He declared a weeklong period of national mourning.[5]

A few days after assuming office, Abubakar promised to hold elections within a year and transfer power to an elected president.[3] He established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), appointing former Supreme Court Justice Ephraim Akpata as chairman.[6] The INEC held a series of elections first for Local Government Areas in December 1998, then for State Assemblies and Governors, National Assemblies and finally for the President on 27 February 1999. Although efforts were made to ensure that the elections were free and fair, there were widespread irregularities that drew criticism from foreign observers.[7]

Surprising some critics of the country's military,[4] Abubakar kept his word and transferred power to elected president Obasanjo on 29 May 1999. During his administration Nigeria adopted a new constitution May 5, 1999, which went into effect when Olusegun Obasanjo became president.[3]


Abubakar's legacy is mixed. A lecture circuit at Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois, United States featuring him encountered opposition, because he had supported Abacha's government.[8] (Abacha's administration was notorious for its human rights abuses).[8][9] He was also sued in that country by other Nigerians who claimed he was responsible for the death of 1993 president-elect Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who died in custody after being prevented by the military from taking office, and for the violation of the rights of others during his administration.[10]

Abubakar helped in the Liberian peace movement by presiding over the 2003 peace talks between Charles Taylor and the opposing rebels. This is seen in the movie Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

Personal life[edit]

Abudulsalami Abubakar is married to Fati and they have six children together.[4]


Abudulsalami Abubakar has received several awards and medals. In alphabetical order they include:

  • Defence Service Medal (DSM) Defence Service Medal (Nigeria)
  • Distinguished Service Medal (DSM)
  • Forces Service Star (FSS) Forces Service Star (Nigeria)
  • General Service Medal (GSM) General Service Medal (Nigeria)
  • Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR) Order of the Federal Republic (military) - Nigeria - ribbon bar.gif
  • International Gold Medal, of the Economic Community of West African States
  • Meritorious Service Star (MSS)
  • National Service Medal (NSM) National Service Medal (Nigeria)
  • Republic Medal (RM)
  • Rainbow/Push Coalition Peace Prize
  • Silver Jubilee Medal (SJM)
  • Star Award of Ghana.

Books by Abubakar[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "nigeria abdulsalami abubakar biography and profile". 
  2. ^ Obotetukudo, Solomon (2011). The Inaugural Addresses and Ascension Speeches of Nigerian Elected and Non elected presidents and prime minister from 1960 -2010. University Press of America. p. 121. 
  3. ^ a b c "Nigeria". The World Factbook Online. Central Intelligence Agency. 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 2 May 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c "Abdulsalami Abubakar". Online Nigeria. Devace Nigeria. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  5. ^ "Successor to General Sani Abacha appointed". IFEX Alerts. International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 9 June 1998. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  6. ^ "INEC History". Independent National Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "OBSERVING THE 1998–99 NIGERIA ELECTIONS" (PDF). Carter Center, NDI. Summer 1999. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Akande, Laolu. "NCP, North America, protests Abdulsalami Lecture Series". National Conscience Party. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Abubakar". Online News Hour. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. 21 October 1998. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  10. ^ Aboyade, Funke. "'Conflicting Court Orders in Abdulsalami Case Avoidable'". Thisday Online. Leaders & Company Limited. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sani Abacha
Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria
Succeeded by
Olusegun Obasanjo
as President of Nigeria
Preceded by
Sani Abacha
Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States
Succeeded by
Gnassingbé Eyadéma