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Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari GCFR (February 25, 1925 – December 28, 2018) was a Nigerian politician who became the first democratically elected President of Nigeria. He served as the only President of Nigeria's Second Republic (1979–1983), after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo's military government. Shagari also served seven times in a ministerial or cabinet post as a federal minister and federal commissioner from 1958 to 1975.

Shehu Shagari
President Sharari cropped.jpg
Shagari in 1980
6th President of Nigeria
In office
October 1, 1979 – December 31, 1983
Vice PresidentAlex Ekwueme
Preceded byOlusegun Obasanjo as Military Head of State
Succeeded byMuhammadu Buhari as Military Head of State
Federal Commissioner for Finance
In office
Preceded byObafemi Awolowo
Succeeded byAsumoh Ete Ekukinam
Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction
In office
Federal Minister for Works
In office
Succeeded byS.O. Williams as Minister of Works and Housing[1]
Federal Minister for internal affairs
In office
Federal Minister for Pensions
In office
Federal Minister for Economic Development
In office
Federal Minister for Commerce and Industries
In office
Personal details
Born(1925-02-25)February 25, 1925
Shagari, Sokoto State, Nigeria Protectorate
DiedDecember 28, 2018(2018-12-28) (aged 93)
Abuja, Nigeria
Political partyNational Party of Nigeria
ChildrenMuhammad Bala Shagari
Aminu Shehu Shagari
RelativesBello Bala Shagari

Shagari worked as a teacher for a brief period before entering politics in 1951 and in 1954 was elected to the federal House of Representatives. In 1962, he was made the Turaki of the Fula Sokoto Caliphate by the Sultan of Sokoto Siddiq Abubakar III. Turaki means an officer at court, in this case referring to the sultan's court at the palace of Sokoto. In addition, he held the chieftaincy titles of the Ochiebuzo of Ogbaland, the Ezediale of Aboucha and the Baba Korede of Ado Ekiti.

He was overthrown by General Muhammadu Buhari in a military coup on 31 December 1983.

Early lifeEdit

Shehu Usman Shagari was born in 1925 in the northern Shagari village to a Fulani family. Shagari village was founded by his great-grandfather, Ahmadu Rufa'i, who was also the Village Head, and took the name Shagari as his family name.[2][3] His father's name is Aliyu and his mother's name is Mariamu.[4]

His name, Usman, means "companion".[5] He was raised in a polygamous family, and was the sixth child born into the family. Prior to becoming Magajin Shagari (magajin means village head), Aliyu, Shehu's father was a farmer, trader and herder. However, due to traditional rites that prevented rulers from participating in business, Aliyu relinquished some of his trading interest when he became the Magaji, or village head, of Shagari village.[4] Aliyu died five years after Shehu's birth, and Shehu's elder brother, Bello, briefly took on his father's mantle as Magajin Shagari.

Shagari started his education in a Quranic school and then went to live with relatives at a nearby town, where from 1931-1935 he attended Yabo elementary school. In 1936-1940, he went to Sokoto for middle school, and then from 1941-1944 he attended Kaduna College.[4]

Teaching careerEdit

Between 1944 and 1952, Shehu Shagari, matriculated at the Teachers Training College, in Zaria, Kaduna, Nigeria. From 1953-1958, Shagari got a job as a visiting teacher at Sokoto Province. He was also a member of the Federal Scholarship Board from 1954-1958.[4]

Political careerEdit

Shehu Usman Shagari entered politics in 1951, when he became the secretary of the Northern People’s Congress in Sokoto, Nigeria, a position he held until 1956.

In 1954, Shehu Shagari was elected into his first public office as a member of the federal House of Representative for Sokoto west. In 1958, Shagari was appointed as parliamentary secretary (he left the post in 1959) to the Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and that year he also served as the Federal Minister for commerce and Industries.

From 1959 to 1960, Shagari was redeployed to the ministry for economic development, as the Federal Minister for Economic Development. From 1960 to 1962, he was moved to the Pensions ministry as the Federal Minister for Pensions. From 1962-1965, Shagari was made the Federal minister for internal affairs. From 1965 up until the first military coup in January 1966, Shagari was the Federal minister for works.

In 1967 he was appointed as the secretary for Sokoto province education development fund. From 1968-1969, Shagari was given a state position in the North Western State as commissioner for establishments.

Following the Nigerian civil war, from 1970 to 1971, Shagari was appointed by the military head of state General Yakubu Gowon as the federal commissioner for economic development, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

From 1971 to 1975 he served as the Federal commissioner (position now called minister) of finance. During his tenure as the commissioner of finance for Nigeria, Shagari was also a governor for the World Bank and a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committee of twenty.

In 1978, Shehu Shagari was a founding member of the National Party of Nigeria. In 1979 Shagari was chosen by the party as the presidential candidate for general election that year, which he won becoming the president and head of state of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Shagari ran for a second four-year term in 1983 and won the general election, however, on 31 December 1983, Shagari was overthrown by major general Muhammadu Buhari.[6]


Shagari is greeted by BGEN Archer Durham upon his arrival for a visit. Location: Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, United States

Shagari won the 1979 election with the help of his campaign manager, Umaru Dikko. The campaign had the support of many prominent politicians in the North and among southern minorities. The party's motto was "One Nation, One Destiny" and was seen as the party best representing Nigeria's diversity.

Oil boomEdit

During the oil boom, Shagari made Housing, Industries, Transportation and Agriculture the major goals of his administration. In transportation, he launched some road networks across the country. He also initiated a program to foster the use of mechanical machinery in farming. This initiative favored large scale farmers in order to produce mass products. Shagari also created a low cost housing scheme.

In 1980, with the oil revenue, Shagari finished building the Kaduna refinery, which started operating that year. Also with the oil revenue, Shagari concluded the construction of an additional steel plant and three rolling mills at Ajaokuta. Shagari completed the Delta Steel complex in 1982. In 1983, Shagari created the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria at Ikot Abasi. However, Shagari reduced the share of oil royalties and rents to state of origin from 30 to 2 percent.[7]

Green RevolutionEdit

Shagari's government embarked on a "Green Revolution", distributing seed and fertilizer to farmers to increase nationwide productivity in farming.

Fall in oil prices, end of the Oil boomEdit

The fall in oil prices that began in 1981 affected the finances of the Nigerian government. Shagari "refused to embrace" structural adjustment from the IMF and World Bank as the crisis progressed,[8] and initiated an Economic Stabilization Program to help protect the country against a hard landing from prior highs of the 1970s and to steer the economy towards positive growth. Key objectives of the program were to limit import licenses, reduce government spending and raise custom duties. However, the result from the stabilization program was minimal.

Overthrown in a military coup on 31 December 1983Edit

The Shagari administration was plagued by allegations of corruption, including allegations of electoral fraud in the 1983 election. This, coupled with a decline in world oil prices, and a deterioration in the national finances, hardship, lead to the regime becoming deeply unpopular with citizens. Shagari was overthrown by General Muhammadu Buhari in a military coup on 31 December 1983.

Personal lifeEdit

Shehu Shagari married three wives: Amina, Aishatu, Hadiza Shagari.[4] He has many children. However, His most visible children are Captain Muhammad Bala Shagari Rtd. and Aminu Shehu Shagari.

On 24 August 2001, his wife, Aisha Shagari, died in a London hospital following a brief illness.


On December 28, 2018 at about 6:30pm, Shehu Shagari died from a brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja where he was admitted to and undergoing treatment before his death.[9][10][11][12][13] It was confirmed by his grandson Bello Bala Shagari and Governor Tambuwal in similar tweets at the time of his death.[14][15]


Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR)  

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The old Bureaucracy is coming back – Eric Teniola". Nigerian Insight. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. ^ Pofile of Shehu Shagari
  3. ^ Nuhu-Koko, Abubakar Atiku (26 February 2008). "Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, GCFR, @ 83". Daily Triumph (Kano). Triumph Publishing Company Limited, via Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e Shehu Shagari, Beckoned To Serve: An Autobiography.
  5. ^ Meaning of Usman in
  6. ^ 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. pp. 76–78.
  7. ^ "Leadership, Policy Making, and Economic Growth in African Countries: The Case of Nigeria" (PDF).
  8. ^ Badru, Pade (1998). Imperialism and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria, 1960-1996. Africa World Press. p. 91. ISBN 0-86543-603-7.
  9. ^ "Shehu Shagari, Former President of Nigeria Dies at Age 93". OkayNG. 28 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  10. ^ Warami, Urowayino (29 December 2018). "Buhari, Jonathan, Saraki, Ibori others mourn". Vanguard News Nigeria. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  11. ^ Published. "Ex-President Shehu Shagari dies at 93". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  12. ^ Lawal, Nurudeen (29 December 2018). "Buhari mourns Shagari, describes him as man of unparalleled patriotism, humility". - Nigeria news. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Oyeleke, Sodiq. "Latest News Shehu Shagari Died At National Hospital, Abuja – Tambuwal". Independent. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  15. ^ Shagari, Bello (28 December 2018). "I regret announcing the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died right now after brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja". @Belshagy. Retrieved 29 December 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • Shehu Othman: "Classes, Crises and Coup: The Demise of Shagari's Regime". African Affairs. Vol. 83, No. 333.
  • "Special advisers to the Nigerian President", 1979. BBC.
  • "Nigerian Cabinet Changes", BBC, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, February 17, 1982.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Olusegun Obasanjo
President of Nigeria
October 1, 1979 – December 31, 1983
Succeeded by
Muhammadu Buhari