List Of Presidents Of Nigeria And Leaders From 1960 Till Date

What are the names of all the presidents of Nigeria since independence till now? There have been elected presidents and military leaders since its independence in 1960 and the structure or formation of the first republic in 1963.

Nigeria was under the colonial rule of the United Kingdom, until independence in 1960. To discover and learn about current and all former presidents of Nigeria since independence in 1960.

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How many presidents have ruled Nigeria?

Nigeria has had 13 presidents in total since independence, both military and non-military presidents. The list of all Nigerian Presidents includes:

  • Nnamdi Azikiwe
  • Major-General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi
  • General Yakubu Gowon
  • General Murtala Mohammed
  • Major General Olusegun Obasanjo
  • Shehu Shagari
  • Major General Muhammadu Buhari
  • General Ibrahim Babangida
  • Ernest Shonekan
  • General Sani Abacha
  • General Abdulsalami Abubakar
  • Umaru Musa Yar’adua
  • Goodluck Jonathan

Past and Present Presidents Of Nigeria List

In 1960-1963, the head of state was Queen Elizabeth II who was also the monarch of the United Kingdom. The Queen was the ceremonial head of state.

The parliament then elected the president for a five-year term, he took office on the 1st of October, 1963 till he left office on the 16th of January 1966. The first elected president was President Nnamdi Azikiwe.

#1 NNAMDI AZIKIWE (1906-1996)

Nnamdi Azikiwe

He was popularly referred to as “zik”, he was one of the nationalists in Nigeria, and in fact, he is known to be the “Father of Nationalism”. The question is what was his distinctive feature as the president of Nigeria?

He was the first Executive President of Nigeria after independence, the first head of state, and also the Governor-General. He was the co-founder of (NCNC) National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon which was founded in 1944.

He established the University of Nigeria in 1960.  As a success, he was made Grand Commander of the Federal Republic in 1980, Nigeria’s highest national honour.

His legacy still lives on as places are named after him, such to name a few are;

  • Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
  •  Nnamdi Azikiwe  Stadium in Enugu

There was a military rule from 1966 to 1979. The coup d’etat was led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu in 1966 which overthrew the existing president, Azikiwe, and his government.


Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi Biography and Profile Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi Nigerian Political Leader Nigeria Politician Nigerian Military Head of State
Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi

Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi’s regime terminated the first republic. He was the first military president of Nigeria. He ruled from January 16, 1966, to July 29, 1966.

Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi was born on March 3, 1924. He had his primary and secondary educations in Umuahia and Kano. In 1942, he joined the Nigerian Army at the age of 18, at the rank of a private with the 7th battalion.

He was promoted in 1946 to the rank of Sergeant Major. Did you know that Aguiyi Ironsi was promoted to Captain in 1953 and promoted to Major in 1955? Now you know!

Later in 1965, Aguiyi Ironsi was promoted to the rank of Major-General. He became the first Nigerian to head the entire army on February 29, 1966. He reconstructed Nigeria based on the enactment of unification decree No. 34, 1966 which made Nigeria a unitary state.

He disrupted the true federal structure of Nigeria where all regions were autonomous, revenue was derived by these regions, and problems were solved quickly. His Change in structure ruined this.

Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi was the first president of Nigeria who died in office.


General Yakubu Gowon

General Yakubu Gowon was a military leader and head of state from (1966 -to 1975). He was born on October 19,1934 in Pankshin, Nigeria.  He was educated in Zaria.

He later became a career army officer. A counter-coup was carried out by Northern officers in July 1966 and Gowon became the new head of state. He brought an end to the attacks against Igbo in the North, although this did not bring about a lasting peace.

To resolve the conflict, on May 27, 1967, he divided Nigeria’s four regions into 12 states.

Yakubu Gowon was involved in the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on July 29, 1975. He was removed from office while he was away in Uganda for Organisation for African Unity (OAU) Summit.

Gowon was banished and ripped off his rank for allegedly being involved in the murder of his successor Murtala Mohammed in 1976.

Years later after he was pardoned by Shehu Shagari in 1981. His rank was reestablished by Ibrahim Babangida in 1987. He is married to Victoria Gowon.



General Murtala Ramat Mohammed was a military leader who ruled for six months in 1975 before he was murdered in 1976. He was born on 8 November 1938 in Kano state.

He had his early education at Sandhurst Royal Academy. He seized military power from Yakubu Gowon after a bloodless coup.

Murtala removed the 1973 census which favoured the North and returned to the 1963 census for official reasons.  He created a total of 19 states birthed out of the initial 12 states in 1967.

His administration brought about a true sense of patriotism in the country. He was assassinated on February 13, 1976, alongside his aide de camp, Lt. Akintunde Akinsehiwa.

His legacy still thrives on as he is still remembered via various mediums one of which is his face on the 20 naira note.


former president olusegun obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Major-General Olusegun Obasanjo was chosen as the head of state by the Supreme Military Council on 13 February 1976. He resigned from the army on the 1st of October 1979.

He handed power over to  Shehu Shagari, elected president of the civilian government.

#6 SHEHU SHAGARI (1925-2018)

President Shehu Shagari
President Shehu Shagari

Former President Shehu Shagari became the first president of Nigeria to be democratically elected. Alex Ekwueme served as his vice president. During his tenure, as oil boomed he prioritized Agriculture, Transportation, Housing Industries in his administration.

His administration created room for the office of the vice president. In 1980 he finished building the Kaduna refinery and completed the Delta Steel Complex in 1982.

Shehu Shagari founded the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria at Ikot Abasi.


muhammadu buhari
Muhammadu Buhari

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari became the head of state from 1983 to 1985. He overthrew the existing civilian government due to the government being corrupt.

He tried rebuilding the nation’s economic and social-political systems. Nigeria experienced hostile conditions during his regime. He had agendas such as the war against corruption, indiscipline, and so on.

His administration shunned public opinion and violated Human Rights,  this brought about the deaths of many Nigerians.  He failed in really curbing corruption.


General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida

General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida ruled as the head of state (1985-1993). He created the Federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1985. Adding to other existing states he created 11 more state governments and various local government councils.

The Toja bridge in Kebbi, he had it constructed. He also created the Jibia water treatment plant in Kano. The share of oil royalties and rents to the state of origin was also increased from 1.5% to 3%. He also built the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.

In 1989, the formation of political parties was legalized,  Babangida was alleged of the killing of Dele Giwa by a letter bomb.


Ernest Shonekan
Ernest Shonekan

He is an industrialist, a politician, Nigerian lawyer but British trained. He was the interim president of Nigeria that was appointed by General Ibrahim Babangida on 26 August 1993.

Political prisoners that were detained by Babangida were released by him.

#10 GENERAL SANI ABACHA (1943-1998)

Gen Sani Abacha
Gen Sani Abacha

He served as the head of state from 1993 to 1998. He is the 10th head of the state of Nigeria. He established the petroleum Trust Fund.

To a very large extent, he is praised for economic reformation in his administration. However, the rate of insecurity increased during his administration between 1993-1998.


9f45c6d7 abdulsalami abubakar
9f45c6d7 abdulsalami abubakar

General Abdulsalami Abubakar was the military head of state from 9 June 1998 to 29 May 1999. He was the last military head of state in Nigeria.

Power was transferred to the elected president Olusegun Obasanjo on 29 May 1999. He stands as the current chairman of the National peace committee.


He was the 5th and 12th president of Nigeria. He won the presidential elections in 1999 and 2003.  Do you know he signed the Green tree agreement with Cameroonian President Paul Biya which formally put an end to the Bakassi Pennisula border dispute on June 12, 2006?

He created the Niger Delta Development Commission.  He also implemented the Universal Basic Education Program. Obasanjo increased the oil royalties and rents share to the state of origin from 3% to 13 %.

#13 UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA (1951-2010)

President Umar Musa YarAdua
Late President Umar Musa YarAdua

He was the 13th president of Nigeria. His tenure was from 29 May 2007 – 5 May 2010. He initiated the move to the implementation of the new minimum wage of 18,000.

He had a seven-point agenda but they were not fulfilled due to some challenges. Due to his health problems which later led to his death on the 29th of May 2010, he was the first civilian president to die in power in Nigeria.


President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

Good Luck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan GCFR, GCON, he initiated the reformation of the power sector.  He launched the Youth Enterprise innovation in Nigeria on 11 October 2011.

He also led the transformation agenda. His administration was criticized for the removal of fuel subsidies during his tenure. However, he is regarded as one of the best civilian presidents so far.


He was the president of Nigeria till 2018. He contested for the second term and is the current Civilian president of Nigeria with Professor Yemi Osinbajo as his vice president. He is devoted to seeing the end of the eradication of corruption in Nigeria. 

By now you must have had an avalanche of the discovery of the presidents of Nigeria since Independence.

List of Assassinated Nigerian Presidents

  • Late General Muritala Muhammed was assassinated in his Mercedes Benz car by a group of soldiers on his way to his office.
  • Late Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi was likewise assassinated by a group of Northern soldiers.
  • Former Prime Minister, late Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was assassinated in a military-led coup by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu.

Here ends the list of Nigerian leaders from 1960 to date.

Who is the first president of Nigeria?

The first president of Nigeria is Nnamdi Azikiwe. he ruled Nigeria from the 1st Of October, 1963 to the 16th Of January, 1966, he was the first indigenous President after independence, he took over office from Queen Elizabeth 11 who ruled from 1960 to 1963.

Who is the youngest president of Nigeria?

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR is the youngest president ever to rule Nigeria at the age of 53 years and he ruled for 5 years.

Who Is The Best Nigeria President From 1960 Till Date

Many people believe that Olusegun Obasanjo is the best president in Nigeria to date because of the achievements he was able to get during his tenure. Such achievements include the GSM initiative, and the creation of institutions like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He also launched programs such as State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS), National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS), and Local Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (LEEDS) among other things.

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