The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Nigerian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Nigerian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Nigerian Politicians.
With an HPI of 69.81, Muhammadu Buhari is the most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 65 different languages on wikipedia.
Muhammadu Buhari (born 17 December 1942) is a Nigerian politician who has been president of Nigeria since 2015. Buhari is a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army and served as military head of state from 1983 to 1985, after taking power in a military coup d'état.The term Buharism is ascribed to the authoritarian policies of his military regime. Buhari has said that he takes responsibility for anything over which he presided during his military rule, and that he cannot change the past. He has described himself as a "converted democrat".Buhari ran for president of Nigeria in 2003, 2007, and 2011. In December 2014, he emerged as the nominee of the All Progressives Congress for the 2015 general election. Buhari won the election, defeating incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. This was the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president lost a general election. He was sworn in on 29 May 2015. In February 2019, Buhari was re-elected, defeating his closest rival former Vice President Atiku Abubakar by over 3 million votes.
With an HPI of 64.57, Olusegun Obasanjo is the 2nd most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Chief Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR, (; Yoruba: Olúṣẹ́gun Ọbásanjọ́ [olúʃɛ̙́ɡũ ɒ̙básandʒɒ̙́]; born 5 March 1937) is a Nigerian military and political leader who served as military head of state from 1976 to 1979 and later as President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Ideologically a Nigerian nationalist, he was a member of the People's Democratic Party. Born in the village of Ibogun-Olaogun to a farming family of the Owu branch of the Yoruba, Obasanjo was educated largely in Abeokuta. Joining the Nigerian Army, where he specialised in engineering, he spent time assigned in the Congo, Britain, and India, rising to the rank of major. In the latter part of the 1960s, he played a senior role in combating Biafran separatists during the Nigerian Civil War, accepting their surrender in 1970. In 1975, a military coup established a junta with Obasanjo as part of its ruling triumvirate. After the triumvirate's leader, Murtala Mohammed, was assassinated the following year, the Supreme Military Council appointed Obasanjo as head of state. Continuing Murtala's policies, Obasanjo oversaw budgetary cut-backs and an expansion in access to free school education. Increasingly aligning Nigeria with the United States, he also emphasised support for groups opposing white minority rule in southern Africa. Committed to restoring democracy, Obasanjo oversaw the 1979 election, after which he handed over control of Nigeria to the newly elected civilian president, Shehu Shagari. He then retired to Ota, Ogun, where he became a farmer, published four books, and took part in international initiatives to end various African conflicts. In 1993, Sani Abacha seized power in a military coup. Openly critical of Abacha's administration, in 1995 Obasanjo was arrested and convicted of being part of a planned coup, despite protesting his innocence. While imprisoned, he became a born again Christian, with providentialism strongly influencing his subsequent worldview. He was released following Abacha's death in 1998. Entering electoral politics, Obasanjo became the People's Democratic Party candidate for the 1999 presidential election, which he won comfortably. As president, he de-politicised the military and both expanded the police and mobilised the army to combat widespread ethnic, religious, and secessionist violence. He was re-elected in the 2003 election. Influenced by Pan-Africanist ideas, he was a keen supporter of the formation of the African Union and served as its chair from 2004 to 2006. Obasanjo's attempts to change the constitution to abolish presidential term limits were unsuccessful and brought criticism. In retirement, he earned a PhD in theology from the National Open University of Nigeria. Obasanjo has been described as one of the great figures of the second generation of post-colonial African leaders. He received praise both for overseeing Nigeria's transition to representative democracy in the 1970s and for his Pan-African efforts to encourage cooperation across the continent. Critics accused him of corruption and of overseeing human rights abuses, as well as focusing on his avoidance of constitutional norms and their perception that he became too interested in power during his presidency.
With an HPI of 61.80, Sani Abacha is the 3rd most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Sani Abacha GCFR (pronunciation ; 20 September 1943 – 8 June 1998) was a Nigerian military general who served as the military head of state of Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998. He was also Chief of Army Staff between 1985 to 1990; Chief of Defence Staff between 1990 to 1993; and Minister of Defence. In 1993, Abacha became the first Nigerian Army officer to attain the rank of a full military general without skipping a single rank.His rule saw the achievement of several economic feats and also recorded human rights abuses and several political assassinations. He has been dubbed a kleptocrat and a dictator by several commentators.
With an HPI of 61.75, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is the 4th most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.
Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (16 August 1951 – 5 May 2010) was a Nigerian politician who was the President of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010. He was declared the winner of the Nigerian presidential election held on 21 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. He previously served as the Governor of Katsina from 1999 to 2007; and was a member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). In 2009, Yar'Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis. He returned to Nigeria on 24 February 2010, where he died on 5 May.
With an HPI of 61.19, Shehu Shagari is the 5th most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari (25 February 1925 – 28 December 2018) was a Nigerian statesman who was the first democratically elected President of Nigeria, after the transfer of power by military head of state General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1979 giving rise to the Second Nigerian Republic. An experienced politician, he briefly worked as a teacher before entering politics in 1951; and was elected into the House of Representatives in 1954. At various times between 1958 through independence of Nigeria in 1960 and 1975, he held a cabinet post as a federal commissioner or as a federal minister.
With an HPI of 61.12, Goodluck Jonathan is the 6th most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan (born 20 November 1957) is a Nigerian politician who served as the President of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015. He lost the 2015 presidential election to former military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari, marking the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president lost re-election and conceded defeat. Prior to that, he served as Vice President of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010; and in oil-rich Bayelsa State as Governor of Bayelsa State from 2005 to 2007.
With an HPI of 61.06, Yakubu Gowon is the 7th most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.
Yakubu "Jack" Gowon (born 19 October 1934) is a Nigerian political and military leader who served as the head of state of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975. He ruled during the deadly Nigerian Civil War, which resulted in the death of 3 million people, most of whom were civilians. He took power after the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup and was overthrown in the 1975 Nigerian coup d'état.
With an HPI of 60.66, C. Odumegwu Ojukwu is the 8th most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.
Chukwuemeka "Emeka" Odumegwu-Ojukwu (4 November 1933 – 26 November 2011) was a Nigerian military officer, statesman and politician who served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966 and the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra from 1967 to 1970. He was active as a politician from 1983 to 2011, when he died aged 78.
With an HPI of 60.63, Abdullah al-Thani is the 9th most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.
Abdullah al-Thani (Arabic: عبد الله الثني Libyan pronunciation: [ʕæbˈdɑllɑ tˈtini, -ˈθæni]) is a Libyan politician who became prime minister of the House of Representatives of Libya on 11 March 2014, when he took over in an interim capacity after the dismissal of Ali Zeidan. He was previously the defence minister in the government of Zeidan.He is not related to Qatar’s ruling House of Al Thani, despite a similar surname with members of the House.
With an HPI of 60.43, Ibrahim Babangida is the 10th most famous Nigerian Politician. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida GCB GCFR (born 17 August 1941) popularly known as IBB, is a Nigerian general and statesman who served as military President of Nigeria from 1985 until his resignation in 1993. He also served as the Chief of Army Staff from January 1984 to August 1985. Babangida rose through the ranks in the military and fought during the Nigerian Civil War, and played key roles in several military coups in Nigeria.
Pantheon has 19 people classified as politicians born between 1900 and 1957. Of these 19, 9 (47.37%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Muhammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Goodluck Jonathan. The most famous deceased politicians include Sani Abacha, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, and Shehu Shagari. As of October 2020, 1 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Obafemi Awolowo.
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1943 - 1998
1951 - 2010
1925 - 2018
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 10 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.