Complete Biography of Nigeria’s ex-president, Shehu Shagari

Introduction to the life of late President Shegu Shagari

Hello Nigerians, how much do you know about the only executive president of Nigeria in the second republic? The man’s name is Alhaji Shehu Shagari and we will discuss the key events about his life as well as his achievements, early life etc in this article. The former president died a few days to the end of last year being 2018 and recently there’s a move by the federal government of Nigeria to rename the federal university of Akure to a memorial school of Shehu Shagari.

You might be surprised as I was that this movement met opposition from the alumni of this great school of which a very good friend of mine, @Determined (Sunday) is one.

Many know Shagari as a successful politician who ruled this country, Nigeria in the infant days of the nation when Nigeria enjoyed oil boom but they do not know that the late president had very humble beginnings as well. We will be revealing of of that here.

Alhaji shehu Shagari
Biography of Late Alhaji shehu Shagari

Shagari’s Early Life

The ex-president was born in 1925 in a northern village known as Shagari. The village was said to have been founded by his great-grandfather, Ahmadu Rufa’i. He must have been something like a prince  in his grandfather’s village but surely he wasn’t the only prince and might have had to venture beyond the village in search of green pastures for himself Shehu Shagari was fathered by a man named Aliyu and his mother’s name was Mariamu.

His Education 

Shagari was indeed a well educated man. Although he didn’t school abroad, perhaps because his parents couldn’t sponsor such education for him, he was well schooled in the country, from primary to tertiary level.

Primary and Secondary education

Elementary and secondary school Like many of the children born in Northern Muslim families, Shagari was first enrolled in a Quranic school. For his primary education, he attended Yabo Elementary School. In the next few years between 1936 and 1940, he went to Sokoto for middle school, and then from 1941-1944, he attended Kaduna College. That was the history of his primary and secondary school education.

Tertiary Education

As for his tertiary education, Between 1944 and 1952, Shagari attended the Teacher Training College, in Zaria, Kaduna State and as was the custom then in which fresh graduates usually get absorbed into the labor market especially in the teaching field then, between 1953 and 1958, he worked as a visiting teacher at Sokoto Province.

Shagari’s work before joining politics

He worked as a teacher just as we already mentioned above. Shagari was also a member of the Federal Scholarship Board from 1954-1958. During this period, little did he know that he would ever become the president of Nigeria.

The political life of Shagari

Looking at his humble beginnings ,one can easily see that Shagari was indeed a man of vision and faith as well. He knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid of being ambitious. His political career became noticeably active when he was made the secretary of his party, the Northern people’s congress. He was the secretary of this party for a period of 5 years from the year 1951 to 1956.

While he was still serving as the secretary of his party, he was elected to the federal house of representatives for Sokoto West. That was in the year, 1954. Since then, it was only a matter of time before he got close to the presidential seat and eventually became the president!

In the year 1958, ex-president Alhaji Shehu Shagari was appointed as parliamentary secretary to the then Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. In the same year, he got a second federal government appointment as the Federal Minister for commerce and Industries.

Shagari’s several Ministerial Jobs

Many will not know that shehu Shagari served as a minister in different departments several times before he became the president. Personally, I feel it’s absurd for someone who’s been a teacher to manage different ministries. We know that all Shagari studied was Teaching. He was trained to be a teacher but he ended up managing the country’s affairs at different strategic ministries. Here’s a list of the ministries he served in.

1. Federal Minister for commerce and Industries in the year 1958.

2. He became the Federal Minister for Economic Development From 1959 to 1960 under the ministry for economic development.

3. From 1960 to 1962, he served as the Federal Minister for Pensions in the Pensions ministry.

4. Onwards From 1962-1965, the late Shehu Shagari was appointed for the fourth time into the office of minister as the Federal minister for internal affairs.

5. In his last appointment as a minister, Shagari was the Federal minister for works From 1965 up until the first military coup in January 1966.

6. From 1971 to 1975, Shagari was the Federal minister for finance.

Shagari during the Biafra war

Many of Nigeria’s ex-president were military men including Buhari. Shagari was never a military person! Do you know what he was doing during the war?

While the war was raging In 1967, Shagari was appointed as the secretary for Sokoto province education development fund. In the following year From 1968-1969, Shagari was appointed as the commissioner for establishments.

Shagari after the war

Right after the war, the more experienced Shagari was appointed as the federal commissioner for economic development, rehabilitation and reconstruction. This was in the years 1970 and 1971.

Onwards  he also served as minister of finance as I stated above. It wasn’t just that. Shagari was also appointed as governor of the world Bank as well as member of the International monetary fund committee of twenty. This shows that he was vastly recognized in the financial industry in Nigeria and the world at large.

Shagari as President of Nigeria

Shagari had a chance at the presidency, a year later when he was one of the founding fathers of the early political party, National Party of Nigeria, NPN. He was given the presidential ticket in which he contested and won the election! That was how he became the president. Shagari would go on to contest again and win the election that will extend his first tenure into the second.

Am sure you have heard about the Oil boom in Nigeria. This was a period when oil was a much sought after commodity in the international market and Nigeria being a country with many oil-producing states benefited heavily from this period. But am sure that just as many people who are new to the behavior of such market commodities, Nigeria suffered when the oil boom ended due to lack of diversity in the nation’s income source. President Shagari also introduced many other programs in Nigeria.

Projects chaired by Shagari’s Administration

1. Shagari built the Kaduna Oil refinery in 1980

2. Shagari built the Aluminum Smelter Company in Akwa Ibom

3. Shagari built the steel plant at Ajaokuta

4. Shagari built the Delta Steel Complex in 1982

5. Oil derivations: Shagari was also the one who reduced the oil derivation of the oil producing states from 30% to 2%. This was a highly debated move. And it was possible because there’s noone from the oil rich region to stop him as the president and those in power were Northerners.

6. Shagari also started the green revolution, a movement in which seeds were dispersed to farmers across the country with fertilizers. The aim is to improve Agricultural produce in the nation.

Death of Shagari: Did Buhari kill Shagari?

Of course, we know that Shagari died after a brief illness but It’s funny as well how 31st December, 1983, Shagari was ousted from power by a Muhammadu Buhari led coup and December 28th, 2018, under Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Shagari died.

Shagari’s family 

Shehu Shagari’s father’s name was Aliyu and his mother’s name was Mariamu.

His had 3 wives.

He also fathered many children some of which are into politics presently.

Shagari’s Titles

The ex-president has many feats but surprisingly, his titles are fewer.

  • Shagari was made the Turaki of the fula Sokoto Caliphate in 1962 by the Sultan of Sokoto Siddiq Abubakar III.
  • He was also conferred the national recognition of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR).


Shagari died on 28th December 2018.

Ban from Politics: In 1986, former President Shehu Shagari was banned from participation in politics for life.

FUTA to be renamed in memory of Shehu Shagari?

Federal university of Technology, Akure FUTA was picked by responsible ministry to be renamed after the former president. This move was quickly rejected by the alumni of the Great Institution. One may wonder why they made such a move and I’ll share the reason behind their refusal here.

According to News gathered by Vanguard, alumni of FUTA asserted that Identity change would affect the fortunes of the university and they vowed to resist the move by the federal government by mobilizing the Akure community, the school community against the planned renaming.

Whatever the case may be, I don’t think this speaks good of the ex-president.

This is the biography of the late shegu Shagari and we have provided as much information about the Sokoto-born however, if there’s something that we might have missed, we would add it in the future. Thank for reading.

Author: Precious Mmeso

Am Precious and I believe in progress, development and a better living for everyone. Beyond believing, I have resolved to commit my energy and resources towards this Vision knowing fully well that one day, we will get there.

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