Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari GCFR is a Nigerian politician who served as the president of Nigeria from 2015 to 2023. A retired Nigerian army major general, he served as the country's military head of state from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, after taking power in a military coup d'état.

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) was born on December 17, 1942 in Daura, Katsina State of Nigeria to Adamu and Zulaihat Buhari. He is the twenty-third child of his father and was raised alone by his mother after his father died when he was just three years old. The Buhari’s are Fulanis and Islam.

Buhari is a politician and retired Major General in the Nigerian Army. He was a military Head of States of Nigeria from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985. He ran unsuccessfully for the office of the President of Nigeria in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. However in 2014, he emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress; party, for the 2015 elections. The election which he won, defeating the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari again won his second term in the February 2019 presidential election, after defeating the People's Democratic Party's candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Buhari joined the Nigerian Army in 1962, he attended the Nigerian Military Training College in February 1964, (it was renamed the Nigerian Defence Academy) in Kaduna. From 1962-1963, he underwent Officer Cadets training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England, United Kingdom (Mons OCS was officially closed down in 1972).

In January 1963, Buhari was commissioned as second lieutenant, and appointed Platoon Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta, Nigeria. From November 1963- January 1964, Buhari attended the Platoon Commanders’ Course at the Nigerian Military College, Kaduna. In 1964, he facilitated his military training by attending the Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, United Kingdom.

From 1965-1967, Buhari served as Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion. He was appointed Brigade Major, Second Sector, First Infantry Division, April 1967 to July 1967.

Buhari was made Brigade Major of the Third Infantry Brigade, July 1967 to October 1968 and Brigade Major/Commandant, Thirty-first Infantry Brigade, 1970-1971.

Buhari served as the Assistant Adjutant-General, First Infantry Division Headquarters, 1971-1972. He also attended the Defense Services Staff College, Wellington, India, in 1973.

From 1974-1975 Buhari was appointed Acting Director, Transport and Supply, Nigerian Army Corps of Supply and Transport Headquarters.

In August 1975, after General Murtala Mohammed took over power, he appointed Buhari as Governor of the North-Eastern State, to oversee social, economic and political improvements in the state.

In March 1976, the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Buhari as the Federal Commissioner (position now called Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was created in 1976, Buhari was also appointed as its Chairman, a position he held until 1978.

He was also made Military Secretary, Army Headquarters, 1978-1979, and was a member of the Supreme Military Council, 1978-1979.

From 1979 -1980, at the rank of colonel, Buhari attended the Us Army War College (established in 1901) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States of America and gained a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies.

His other military roles include:

General Officer Commanding, 4th Infantry Division, Aug. 1980 – Jan. 1981
General Officer Commanding, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Division, Jan. 1981 – October 1981
General Officer Commanding, 3rd Armed Division Nigerian Army, October 1981 – December 1983

Major-General Buhari was selected as Head of State to lead the country by middle and high-ranking military officers after a successful military coup d’etat that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983. At the time, Buhari was head of the Third Armored Division of Jos. Buhari was appointed Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and Tunde Idiagbon was appointed Chief of General Staff (the de facto No. 2 in the administration). Buhari justified the military's seizure of power by castigating the civilian government as hopelessly corrupt, and his administration subsequently initiated a public campaign against indiscipline known as "War Against Indiscipline" (WAI). This policy won him national and universal applause, as a result of its effectiveness.

In August 1985, Major General Buhari was overthrown in a coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida and other members of the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC). Babangida brought many of Buhari's most vocal critics into his administration, including Fela Kuti's brother Olukoye Ransome-Kuti, a doctor who had led a strike against Buhari to protest declining health care services. Buhari was then detained in Benin City until 1988.

Buhari's admirers believe that he was overthrown by corrupt elements in his government who were afraid of being brought to justice as his policies were beginning to yield tangible dividends in terms of public discipline, curbing corruption, lowering inflation, enhancing workforce and improving productivity.

In 1998 under the Sani Abacha regime, Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF).

In 2003, Buhari contested the presidential election as the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). He was defeated by the People’s Democratic Party nominee, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, by a margin of more than eleven million votes.

On 18 December 2006, Gen. Buhari was nominated as the consensus candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party. His main challenger in the April 2007 polls was the ruling PDP candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, who hailed from the same home state of Katsina. In the election,

Buhari officially took 18% of the vote against 70% for Yar'Adua, but Buhari rejected these results. After Yar'Adua took office, the ANPP agreed to join his government, but Buhari denounced this agreement.

In March 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressibe Change (CPC), a party that he had helped to found. He said that he had supported foundation of the CPC "as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party the ANPP".

Buhari was the CPC Presidential candidate in the 16 April 2011 general election, running against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and Ibrahim Shekarau of ANPP. Buhari got 12,214,853 votes, coming second to the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, who polled 22,495,187 votes and was declared the winner.

In 1971, Buhari got married to his first wife, the former first lady of Nigeria, Safinatu (née Yusuf) Buhari. They had five children together, four girls and one boy. Their first daughter, was Zulaihat (Zulai) named after Buhari’s mother. The other children are Fatima, Musa (deceased), Hadiza, and Safinatu named after her mother, Buhari's first wife.

In 1988, Buhari and his first wife Safinatu got divorced. In December 1989, Buhari got married to his second and current wife Aisha (née Halilu) Buhari. They also have five children together. One boy and four girls. They are Aisha, Halima, Yusuf, Zarah and Amina.

On 14 January 2006, Safinatu Buhari, the former first lady of Nigeria and Buhari's first wife, died from complications of diabetes. She was buried at Unguwar Rimi cemetery in accordance with Islamic rites.

In November 2012, Buhari's first daughter, Zulaihat (née Buhari) Junaid died from sickle cell anemia, after having a baby two days before at a Hospital in Kaduna.


Major-General Buhari (rtd) has received several awards and medals. In alphabetical order they include:
  • Congo Medal (CM)
  • Defense Service Medal (DSM)
  • Forces Service Star (FSS)
  • General Service Medal (GSM)
  • Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR)
  • Loyal Service and Good Conduct Medal (LSGCM)
  • National Service Medal (NSM)

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