When asked who the first executive president of Nigeria is, people tend to provide different answers. Even pages online might mislead you. This is why I have decided to put up this post.
Throwback to sometime last year, when I asked a random person about who the first executive president of Nigeria was, guess what I got as an answer. Nnamdi Azikiwe…This is wrong! Nnamdi Azikiwe was never an executive president of Nigeria.
Nnamdi Azikiwe, widely known as Zik, was the first and only ceremonial President of Nigeria from 1963-1966. His tenure lasted for only three years before his government was overthrown by the Military.
The Military ruled the country from 1966 till 1979, before the first executive president came into office. So who was the first executive president of Nigeria? I’ll reveal it to you in the next subsection.
Who was Nigeria’s first Executive President?
General Olusegun Obasanjo resigned from office in 1979, and a newly-elected president took over. The first Executive President of Nigeria was His Excellency, Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari ruled the country from 1979 till 1983, before General Muhammadu Buhari, another Military government, took over power again. Alhaji Shehu Shagari was also regarded as the first Democratic president of Nigeria.
The second Democratic president of Nigeria should have been Late M.K.O. Abiola, but unfortunately, he was murdered days after coming out victorious in the 1993 General Elections.
Due to this, an interim president in the person of Ernest Shonekan was appointed. Shonekan was not a democratic president, as he was just appointed to carry out the duties of the office, pending the time a new election takes place.
Ernest Shonekan served as the Interim President of Nigeria from 26th August 1993 till 17th November 1993. His tenure was cut short by yet another Military government, led by Late General Sani Abacha.
Sani Abacha died in office after ruling for only five years. Rumors have it that he died as a result of eating poison, but that’s a story for another day.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s Life as President
As the first executive president of the country, it is expected that he will make a positive impact with his office, and of course, he did. So far, I can say Alhaji Shehu Shagari is one of the best presidents Nigeria has ever had, and will ever have.
The Green Revolution which we all hear of today was incepted by Shehu Shagari, and the program aimed at distributing seed and fertilizer to farmers to increase Nationwide productivity in agriculture.
With the Oil Revenue, He built the Kaduna Refinery in 1980, which started operating that same year. Also with the oil revenue, Shagari started the construction of Ajaokuta Steel Mill which was near completion by 1983. It is the biggest steel project ever embarked in Africa at the time of its construction. The steelworks has been called the “bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization”.
In housing, Shagari had the target of building 200,000 housing units, but by June 1983, only thirty thousand (32,000) units had been completed. Despite its shortcomings, it is the largest public housing project Nigeria has ever seen.
This and many other developments did Shehu Shagari bring into the country. Even the current president has not matched up with the achievements of Shehu Shagari, and might not till he leaves office.