If you didn’t know, Queen Elizabeth II was still the Queen of Nigeria and the head of state as at that time; I mean at independence which was on October 1st 1960.

She continued to rule alongside the Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the appointed Governor General, Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikwe until Nigeria became a republic on October 1st 1963.
It was then; Nigerian government had its first Head of state (more about that soon in this post).
Now I have here for you the list of all Nigerian presidents since 1963 and it starts with:

1. Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikwe

He is the first president of Nigeria’s first republic. He was born into Chukuemeka Azikwe’s family on 16 November 1904.
The Onitsha-indigene also known as the Owelle of Onitsha could speak languages of the three major ethnic groups (Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba) fluently due to his upbringing.
He was highly studious as he obtained two Master degrees from different universities after he finished his undergraduate studies in Howard University, Washington DC.
He was a well-known editor who controlled over 12 different daily African-run newspapers. In 1960, he established University of Nigeria, Nsukka and served as Chancellor for University of Lagos from the year 1972 to 1976. He joined Nigeria’s people’s party in 1978.
He was the head of state from October 1, 1963 until he was removed from power, with his colleagues in the January 15, 1966 military coup. He was president from 1st Oct, 1963-16th Jan, 1966.
He left politics involuntarily on 31st December 1983 after the military coup. Chief Nnamdi Azikwe died on 11th May 1996 at University of Nigeria teaching hospital Enugu after which he was buried in Onitsha.

2. Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi

He became the second of all Nigerian presidents after Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe was overthrown. He was born on 3rd March, 1924 in Abia state.
He got his first name Johnson from the last name of his brother- in law who was a Sierra Leonean. In 1942, he joined the army when he was 18 and he served the Nigerian army for 24 years.
The peak of his promotions in the Nigerian army was when he was promoted to the rank of Major General, making him the first indigenous Nigerian to head the entire Nigerian Army. Isn’t that interesting?

Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military head of state on 17th Jan 1966 until 29th July 1966 when a group of northern army rebelled against the government and assassinated him alongside Adekunle Fajuyi in the bloody July counter coup.
He was Nigerian president from 17th Jan 1966 – 29th July 1966. Although his regime was short, he passed a considerable number of decrees.

3. General Yakubu “Jack” Dan-Yumma Gowon

General Yakubu Gowon is one of the Nigerian presidents who were overthrown. He became the third President of Nigeria at the age of 32 after Major General Aguiyi Ironsi was overthrown and assassinated. He was born on 19th October 1934.
This 5th of 11 children hailed from a small village in the present local government area of Plateau state but he had his early life education in Zaria. He joined the Nigerian army in 1954 and served for 21 years.
It was during his tenure that genocide claimed the lives of many (mostly Igbo people) by the Hausa and Fulani people. This we all know as the Nigeria Biafra war which lasted for 2 years.
This war led to the migration of the Igbo back to the east. It was also during his regime that Nigeria joined Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries precisely in 1971.
He was overthrown in a bloodless coup on 29th July 1975 by some group of officers who announced his overthrow.
This he must have received in shock because he was actually in an OAU summit in Kampala when the announcement was made. He was president from 1st Aug, 1966 -29th July 1975.
After his overthrow, the General left the country to get his PhD in political science from University of Warwick in United Kingdom.
Seven months later, the Nigerian government declared him wanted, stripped of his rank in absentia and had his pension cut off because he was suspected to have partaken in a coup d’etat that led to the death of General Murtala Mohammed.
However, President Sheu Shagari pardoned him but his rank as general was not returned until 1987 by General Ibrahim Babangida.

4. General Murtala Rufai Ramat Muhammed (30th July 1975 to 13th February 1976)

The same group of officers who announced the overthrow of General Yakubu Gowon appointed General Murtala Mohammed as the head of state and that was how he joined the list of Nigerian presidents.
The General was born to Risqua Mohammed on the 8th of November 1938. He obtained his school certificate in 1957 from a government college now called Barewa College.
He joined the Nigerian army in 1958 and in 1963 he travelled to Royal Corps of signal in England to study advanced telecommunications techniques.
He took power as the military head of state on 29th July 1975. While in office, he made plans and announced that in the future, the federal capital territory would be moved from Lagos to a federal capital territory in Abuja.
He took federal control of the country’s two largest newspapers (Daily times and New Nigerian) and the remaining state run newspapers.
10 days to his assassination, he created 7 new states (Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Imo, Niger, Ogun and Ondo) making a total of 19 states.
Unfortunately for him, he was killed at the age of 37 in his black Mercedes Benz while going to work from his personal house in Ikoyi on an early Friday morning in Lagos. (Dodan barracks to be precise).
Members of an abortive coup led by Col. Suka Buka Dimka ambushed his vehicle and got him assassinated on 13th Feb, 1976.

Today, his portrait adorns the 20 naira note
and Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos is named in his honor. He is survived by his only wife Ajoke with six children.

5. General Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo (13th February 1976 to 30th Sept 1979)

Olusegun Obasanjo is also on the list of Nigerian presidents and he was born on 5th May 1937. He became an orphan at the age of 22. He joined the Nigerian army in 1950 and served for 21 years with several promotions.
After General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated, the Supreme Military Council appointed him as the head of state on the 13th Feb, 1976.
His regime benefited from oil revenues that increased and this he used to improve urban infrastructures on a large scale.
As the newly appointed head of state, he set a date to end military rule. On 1st October 1979, he resigned as the head of state and also resigned from the army after which he handed over power to the newly elected civilian president Shehu Shagari and then retired to his farm.

6. Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari (1st October 1979 to 31st December 1983)

Shehu Shagari, another one time Nigerian President was born on 25th February, 1925 in a Northern Shagari village to his father Aliyu in Sokoto state.
He attended teachers training college in Zaria, Kaduna state. He was the first President of Nigeria’s second republic.
He got into politics at the age of 26 and he won the election in 1979 under National party of Nigeria with their motto “One Nation One Destiny”. I’m sure there were few parties back then compared to over 67 political parties we have in Nigeria today.
He also enjoyed the revenue from oil which he used to launch many road networks. He also finished building Kaduna refinery just to mention a few.
Shehu Shagari was overthrown in a bloodless military coup on 31st December 1983 by General Muhammadu Buhari.
He lost one of his three wives in a brief illness on 24th August 2001 and he has many children and on 25th February of 2018, he celebrated his 93rd birthday.

7. Major General Muhammadu Buhari (31st December 1983 to 27th August 1985)

General Muhammadu Buhari was born on 17th December 1942 to a Fulani family of Chief Hardo Adamu in Daura, Katsina state.
He lost his father at the age of four and he enrolled in the Nigerian Military at the age of 19. He served in the military for 24 years.
After he overthrew Shehu Shagari in the military coup, his military rule enforced many new laws. First, he trimmed the number of ministries to 18 after which he decreed War against Indiscipline and Corruption.
Civil servants who failed to show up at work were forced to do frog jump, Nigerian citizens were forced to form neat queues at bus stops under the eyes of welding soldiers, just to mention a few.
In my own opinion, amidst all the Nigerian presidents, Buhari’s regime curbed Nigerians more. You can testify to that in his present reign as Nigerian President under APC political party.
However, because what goes around comes around, the major general was also overthrown in a bloodless coup led by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in 1985.
General Ibrahim Babangida detained him in a small guarded bungalow in Benin City for good 3 years. He had access to a TV that showed only 2 channels and his family members were allowed to see him only on Babangida’s authorization.

8. General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (27th August 1985 to 26th August 1993)

Yes, General Ibrahim Babangida is also one of the Nigerian presidents to ever rule this country. He was born on 17th August 1941 in Minna Niger State to his father Muhammad Babangida.
He attended Government college Bida Niger state after which he joined the army on 10th December 1962. He served for 31 years.
After he overthrew Major General Muhammadu Buhari, he created 11 new states. 2 states (Katsina and Akwa Ibom) on the 23rd September 1987 and 9 states (Abia, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun, Kogi, Taraba and Yobe) on the 27th August 1991 making a total of 30 states.
Also, he executed General Murtala Mohammed’s plan to relocate the seat of federal government from Lagos to Abuja.
He cancelled the June 12 1993 elections as it was unofficially announced that Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola popularly called MKO Abiola won 19 out of the 30 states. He was forced to step down on 26th August 1993 due to pressure from armed forces ruling council.

9. Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan (26th August 1993 to 17th November 1993)

He was born on 9th May 1936 in Lagos. He attended C.M.S grammar school in Lagos after which he received a law degree from University of London.
He was a seasoned business man with a wide network. He was appointed by Babangida on 26th August 1993 as an Interim President.
While in office, he released political prisoners. His administration lasted for only 3 months as he was forced to resign by General Sani Abacha. 3 months? That’s quite strange.

10. General Sani Abacha (17th November 1993 to 8th June 1998)

Another person on my list of Nigerian Presidents that ever ruled this country is General Sani Abacha. He was born 20th September 1943 in Kano.
He attended Military Training College after which he served in the military from 1963 to 1998. In 1990, he became the first Nigerian soldier to attain the rank of a full general without skipping a single rank.
Some records showed him as the most successful coup plotter in the history of Nigerian military.
He overthrew the government of Ernest Shonekan and in 1994, he issued a decree that placed his government above the court jurisdiction.
While in office, he arrested Obasanjo for allegedly supporting a secret coup to overthrow him. He also hanged a human right activist by name Ken Saro Wiwa alongside 8 others.
He died 3 months to his 55th birthday on 8th June 1998. He is one of the Nigerian presidents who got intoxicated with power.
The government identified the cause of his death as a sudden heart attack while report has it that he was in the company of two Indian prostitutes imported from Dubai. It is thought that the prostitutes laced his drink with a poisonous substance.

11. General Abdulsalami Abubakar (9th June 1998 to 29th May 1999)

He was born on 13th June 1942 to his father Abubakar Jibrin in Minna. He studied at Kaduna Technical College. He served in the Nigerian Air force for 3 years and served for 33 years in the Nigerian Army.
He was sworn in on 9th June after Abacha’s sudden death. His administration adopted a new constitution, allowed multiparty elections and lifted ban on political activities.
He released Obasanjo from prison on 15th June 1998 and after assuming office, he promised to hold elections and transfer power to the elected president.
He established Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and he fulfilled his promise by transferring power to the President Elect Olusegun Obasanjo on 29th May 1999.
He is one of the few Nigerian presidents who willingly transferred power without any saga. He is married to Fati Lami Abubakar with 6 children.

12. Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo (29th May 1999 to 29th May 2007)

Baba Africa as he is fondly called is one of the Nigerian presidents who returned to power. As we discussed earlier, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was appointed as the president of Nigeria on 13th February 1976 but he resigned after three years.
Baba Africa came back campaigning after he was released from prison in 1998. He campaigned under the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He defeated Olufalae and others and was sworn in on 29th May 1999 which ushered in the fourth republic.
His first tenure ended in 2003 and Baba Africa ran for a second term under the same party, PDP which he won by a margin of more than 11 million votes.
President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime was full of activities. To mention a few, he established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to tackle human and ecological issues in the Niger Delta region of Southern Nigeria.
Another which will forever be in the heart of Nigerians is the commissioning of MTN Nigeria’s digital microwave transmission in January 2003 as MTN became the first GSM network to make a call.
Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007 general election. He was married four times and God blessed him with twenty children.

13. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (29th May 2007 to 5th May 2010)

The 13th Nigerian president was born on 16th August, 1951 in Katsina into a Fulani family. He attended Ahmadu Bello University where he obtained a BSc. Degree in Education and Chemistry after which he went back to obtain his MSc. Degree in Analytical Chemistry.
He campaigned under the platform of PDP and he won 70% of the votes of the April 2007 election. He was the first of all Nigerian Presidents to declare his assets.
President Umaru was battling with Pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium (a fibrous sack surrounding the heart). He left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia on 23rd November 2009 to get treatment. His Vice, Goodluck Jonathan was declared the acting president.
He returned on 24th February 2010 but died on 5th May at Aso Rock Presidential Villa. He is survived by his wife, Turai Yaradua with 7 children.

14. Goodluck Ebele Azikwe Jonathan(5th May 2010 to 29th May 2015)

The ever lucky President was born on 20th November 1957 in Bayelsa state to a family of canoe makers.
He had a humble beginning as his early school days were with no shoes, no school bags, no generators but lantern. Yet, he finished secondary school and held a doctorate degree from University of Port Harcourt.
He served as a Science Inspector of Education and a lecturer at Rivers state College of Education before he joined Peoples Democratic Party in 1998.
He became the first civilian deputy governor of Bayelsa state on May 29, 1999 after which he was re-elected with the Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in 2004.
On 9 December 2005, Jonathan, who was Deputy Governor at the time, was sworn in as Governor of Bayelsa State upon the impeachment of the Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
He became the Vice President in 2007 and he joined the list of Nigerian presidents after President Umaru Yaradua’s death on 5th May 2010.
In 2011, Jonathan and Vice-President Sambo travelled the country to campaign and the ever lucky president won the general election against General Muhammadu Buhari.
With his victory, so many parents in Nigeria started naming their children “Goodluck”. I hope the luck follows them too.
While President Goodluck Jonathan was in office, he renamed University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University in honor of late MKO Abiola.
He signed into law same sex marriage prohibition Act. He removed fuel subsidy but he had security challenges which was majorly bombings from Boko Haram.
He lost the 2015 presidential election to Sir Muhammadu Buhari. Amidst all Nigerian Presidents, he was the first sitting Nigerian President who humbly accepted defeat by calling the President Elect Sir Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him on his victory.
The story of Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure as President will not be complete if Mrs. Patience Jonathan the ever bold, active, and supportive wife is not mentioned.

15. President Muhammadu Buhari (25th May 2015 till Date)

Hope u still remember that the incumbent President, General Muhammadu Buhari once served as the head of state in 1983 for 2 years.
He again showed interest in 2015 and campaigned under the platform of All Progressives Congress APC party.
His performance during his first regime as a resolute anti-corruption fighter, and his incorruptible and honest reputation served as an advantage to him as Nigerians felt he was needed.
He won the election and was sworn in on 29th May 2015 in a ceremony attended by at least 23 Heads of State and Government.

This brings us to the end of the list of Nigerian Presidents from 1960 till date. I hope everyone is looking forward to the 2019 general elections? Please keep your heads up and make sure y’all endeavour to vote.