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1999-2019: How Nigeria’s presidents’ve emerged



1999-2019: How Nigeria’s presidents’ve emerged

A Nigerian president is not only a head of state, but head of government as well as commander-in- chief of the nation’s armed forces. Felix Nwaneri reports on how the country’s leaders have emerged in the current Fourth Republic


The 2019 general elections that held between February and March this year was the tenth time Nigeria conducted general elections since gaining independence from Britain in 1960.

The previous polls were in 1964/1965, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. The last presidential election saw the emergence of Nigeria’s ninth elected president in 59 years.


Olusegun Obasanjo: 1999/2003

The first presidential election after the botched Third Republic was on February 27, 1999.

Like in 1993, two parties contested the election. While a former Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo flew the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, ran on All Peoples Party (APP)/Alliance for Democracy (AD) joint ticket.

The outcome was victory for Obasanjo, who defeated Falae by 12 million to 7.9 million votes.

Obasanjo was re-elected in the April 19, 2003, presidential election, which was contested by 20 candidates. He polled 24.4 million votes to defeat his closest rival, Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari (a former Head of State) of All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), who had 12.7 million votes.

Others who contested the election were Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Jim Nwobodo , United Nigeria People’s Party (UNPP), Gani Fawehinmi, National Conscience Party (NCP), Sarah Jubril, Progressive Action Congress (PAC), Ike Nwachukwu, National Democratic Party (NDP), Chris Okotie, Justice Party (JP), Balarabe Musa, Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Arthur Nwankwo, People’s Mandate Party (PMP), Emmanuel Okereke, All People’s Liberation Party (APLP) and Kalu Idika Kalu, New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).

Also on the ballot were Dikko Yusuf, Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJ), Yahaya Ndu, African Renaissance Party (ARP), Abayomi Ferreira, Democratic Alternative (DA), Tunji Braithwaite, Nigeria Advance Party (NAP), Iheanyichukwu Nnaji, Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP), Olapade Agoro, National Action Council (NAC), Pere Ajuwa, Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN) and Mojisola Adekunle- Obasanjo, Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN).


Umaru Yar’Adua: 2007

The 2007 presidential election was held on April 27 to elect a successor to Obasanjo, who bowed out on May 29 after serving the constitutionally allowed two terms.

Unlike in 2003, when 20 candidates contested the presidential poll, the number dropped to 18. The candidates were Umaru Yar’Adua Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammadu Buhari , All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Atiku Abubakar, Action Congress (AC), Orji Uzor Kalu, Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Attahiru Bafarawa, Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Pere Ajuwa Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chris Okotie, Fresh Democratic Party (FRESH), Pat Utomi, African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Ambrose Owuru, Hope Democratic Party (HDP).


Others were Emmanuel Okereke, African Liberation Party (ALP), Lawrence Adedoyin , African Political System (APS), Habu Fari, National Democratic Party (NDP), Maxi Okwu, Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Bartholomew Nnaji, Better Nigeria Party (BNP), Emmanuel Obayuwana, National Conscience Party (NCP), Olapade Agoro, National Action Council (NAC) and Mojisola Obasanjo , Nigerian Masses Movement (NMM).

Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP won the poll with 24.6 million votes. Buhari of ANPP polled 6.6 million votes to place second, while Atiku of AC garnered 2.5 million votes to come third.


Goodluck Jonathan: 2011

From three political parties in 1999, the number rose to 63 in 2011, but only 19 contested the presidential election held on April 16, 2011.

The election followed controversy as to whether a northerner or southerner should be allowed to become president given the tradition of rotating the top office between the North and South after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner.

Those who contested the poll were Goodluck Jonathan – PDP, Muhammadu Buhari, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Nuhu Ribadu, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Ibrahim Shekarau, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Mahmud Waziri, People for Democratic Change (PDC), Nwadike Chikezie, Peoples Mandate Party (PMP), Lawson Aroh, Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) and Peter Nwangwu, African Democratic Congress (ADC).


Others were Iheanyichukwu Nnaji, Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP), Chris Okotie, Fresh Democratic Party (FRESH), Dele Momodu National Conscience Party (NCP), Akpona Solomon, National Majority Democratic Party (NMDP) , Makinde Adedoyin, African Political System (APS), Ebiti Ndok, United National Party for Development (UNPD), John Dara, National Transformation Party (NTP), Rasheed Shitta-Bey, Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), Yahaya Ndu, African Renaissance Party (ARP), Ambrose Awuru, Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Pat Utomi, Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) and Chris Nwaokobia, Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN).


Jonathan, who was then president having succeeded Yar’Adua, who died on May 5, 2010, won the election. He defeated his closest rival, Buhari of CPC by 22.2 million to 12.6 million votes. Ribadu of ACN placed third with 2.07 million votes.

Muhammadu Buhari: 2015/2019

The 2015 presidential was held March 28, 2015, with 16 candidates contesting the poll. The election was first scheduled February 14, 2015, but was postponed by six weeks due to security issues, particularly the insurgency in the North-Eastern states

The candidates were Goodluck Jonathan, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammadu Buhari All Progressives Congress (APC), Adebayo Ayeni, African Peoples Alliance (,APA), Ganiyu Galadima, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Sam Eke, Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Rufus Salau, Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Mani Ahmad, African Democratic Congress (ADC).

Others were Allagoa Chinedu, Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), Martin Onovo, National Conscience Party (NCP), Tunde Anifowose-Kelani, Action Alliance (AA), Chekwas Okorie, United Progressive Party (UPP), Comfort Sonaiya, KOWA Party, Godson Okoye, United Democratic Party (UDP) and Ambrose Albert Owuru Hope Party (HP).

Buhari of APC made history with his defeat of an incumbent president (Jonathan) by 15.4 million to 12.8 million votes for the first time in Nigeria’s political history. He thereby became Nigeria’s second former military ruler after Obasanjo to return to the presidency through the ballot.

Buhari was re-elected for a second term in the 2019 presidential election.

The poll was earlier scheduled for February 16, but postponed by the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to February 23 due to what the umpire described as logistics challenges.

An unprecedented 73 candidates contested the poll, but there was no doubt that the contest was a two-horse race between Buhari and Atiku Abubakar of PDP.

Buhari won the election, polling 15,191,847 of the total votes cast while Atiku gained 11,262,978 votes, a victory margin of 3.9 million votes.

The President won in 19 states including Ekiti (219,231), Osun (347,634), Kwara (308,984), Nasarawa (289,903), Kogi (285,894), Gombe (402,961), Yobe (497,914), Niger (612,371), Jigawa (794,738), and Kaduna (993,445).

Other states where he won are Bauchi (798,428), Lagos (580,825), Ogun (281,762), Kano (1,464,768), Katsina (1,232,133), Borno (836,496), Sokoto (490,333), Kebbi (581,552), and Zamfara (438,682).

Atiku won in 18 states including the FCT (259,997), Ondo (275,901), Abia (219,698), Enugu (355,553), Ebonyi (258,573), Anambra (524,738), Oyo (366,690), Adamawa (410,266), Edo (275,691), Benue (275,691).

Other states where the PDP candidate won are Imo (334,923), Plateau (548,665), Taraba (374,743), Cross River (295,737), Akwa-Ibom (395,832), Delta (594,068), Bayelsa (197,933) and Rivers (473,971).


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