Biography of Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliu Shagari (1925-VVVV)

Politician and Nigerian Professor born in Shagari in 1924. He/She was President of Nigeria from 1979 to 1983. His term coincided with the brief period of civil government who lived his country.

He was born in a town founded by his great-grandfather, hence carry the family name. located thirty miles from Sokoto. He/She was a member of the Muslim fulani ethnic group, people who lived in Northern Nigeria. His father died when he/she was only five years old, for what happened to be under the tutelage of his older brother. After starting his studies in a Koranic school, he/she moved to live with relatives to a nearby city, where he/she completed his education at a Catholic school. In 1935 he/she moved to Sokoto to complete their secondary studies. In 1941 again shifted his residence settling in Kaduna to study science of education in College Kaduna. After obtaining his degree, he/she remained Professor at College. He/She later returned to his country, where he/she worked as a teacher in several centers in the country. His first position was Professor of science at the Middle School of Sokoto.

In 1951 he/she was appointed director of a primary school in the town of Arungu. In 1953, he/she travelled to the United Kingdom, where he/she spent a year completing his teacher training. On his return to Nigeria began to get involved in national politics. He/She collaborated in the formation of the people of the North Conference (NPC), training that dominated politics in Northern Nigeria during the struggle for independence. Shagari in person organized section of the party in Sokoto, where he/she was Secretary until 1956. In 1954 he/she was elected to a seat in the colonial House of representatives. From his post he/she fought for the right of citizenship in Nigeria in the moments before the independence. In 1959 Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of the pre-colonial period appointed him Parliamentary Secretary. In 1959 he/she was appointed Minister of economy and development. From his post prepared the plans of economic development which would start after producing the independence of the country, which took place in 1960.

After a year away from the Government in 1962 he/she became the Interior portfolio, leaving the post in 1965, to head the Ministry of labour. In 1965 a military coup ended the life of Balewa, Shagari finally abandoned the Government. After an attempt shortly after form a new civilian Government, he/she returned to his hometown and focused in their educational work. He/She founded a private organization which had as its main objective the promotion education in Northern Nigeria. When in 1967 he/she broke out the civil war in Nigeria Shagari moved to United Kingdom, where he/she became the spokesman for supporters of the civil government. After his return to Nigeria President Jakubu Gowon appointed him Minister in 1970, which meant his return to active politics. The following year it became the Federal Commissioner of finance, which became the man most powerful country after the own President Gowon.

He turned to leave the Government in 1976 after the fall of the Cabinet of Gowon, but the new authorities entrusted him the work of drafting the new Constitution, which would permit the return to civilian rule. Political parties were allowed in 1978, after twelve years outlawed. Shagari was presented as a candidate of the national party of Nigeria. He/She won the victory, by a narrow margin, in elections that were held in September, 1979, putting an end to 13 years of military rule. However, the legality of the victory was questioned by the rival candidates and Obafemi Awolowo , Nnamdi Azikiwe who doubted the authenticity of the official count. Despite complaints, Shagari was proclaimed winner by the electoral Commission, a decision which was confirmed by the Supreme Court. He/She assumed the Presidency of the Republic on October 1, 1979, receiving the powers of general Olusegun Obasanjo. In his inauguration speech, he/she stated his intention to promote agricultural and economic development of the country, in addition to reiterate support for the causes which were fighting against racism in Africa.

His Government was not in fact a break with the previous military Government, which expressed its support to the new federal Government. After tough negotiations, formed a coalition Government with the Popular Party of Azikiwe of Nigeria. Two of his first decisions was to grant amnesty to the general Jakubu Gowon, who was in prison since the coup of 1976, and Odumegwu Ojukwu, who had been the leader of the secession of Biafra. The new Government met with serious difficulties because of clashes of the two parties which constituted it. Also the new Constitution, which was based in the United States, and very far from the British tradition of the former Nigerian constitutions, think serious operational issues in national institutions. Tensions between members of the various ethnic groups became generalized throughout the country.

Clashes between the central Government and the Government of the States were continuing on the competencies corresponding to each institution. The corruption that the various military Governments had managed to decrease it, again with force. Shagari is particularly concerned in the development of agriculture and the fight against corruption in the oil industry. In order to get its first purpose acquired 14,000 hectares of land in every State of the country, which was intended to promote the production of cereals through the application of modern technology. To investigate the separation of funds of the national oil society, he/she created a Commission of inquiry, which ended up accusing the majority of their leaders. In April, 1980 at a meeting of the Organization of African States, proposed the creation of African defence forces. His foreign policy focused on the liquidation of the white regime of South Africa and towards the independence of Namibia.

In July 1981 the four Ministers of the people's Party of Nigeria left the Government, with what occurred the rupture between the two parties which formed it. The problem that caused this rupture was the disagreement between the two formations over the distribution of government revenue to each of the 17 States of the Federal Republic. The country was very affected by the international economic crisis which occurred at the beginning of the 1980's. In order to stabilize the economy Shagari took a series of measures polemics: he/she slashed budgets, asked for help from the International Monetary Fund and drove out to 2,000,000 foreigners who lived in Nigeria. He/She returned to win the presidential election in 1983.

However the crisis and corruption became increasingly more large, by what was deposed by a coup led by the greater Muhammadu Buhari military on December 30, 1983, with the support of the population. He/She was placed under arrest accused of corruption. He/She was released and pardoned all their charges in 1986, although he/she was banned the participation of by life in national politics.


OJIGBO, A.O., Shehu Shagari: the biography of Nigeria's first executive president. (Lagos, 1982).

WILLIAMS, D., President and power in Nigeria: the life of Shehu Shagari. (London, 1990).