Muhammadu Buhari Biography

Muhammadu Buhari is a Nigerian politician who became the president of Nigeria in 2015 after he won the presidential elections. Sai Baba or SaiBuhari as he is popularly referred to was also a former head of state of the nation between 1983 and 1985. His military government gave birth to a term known as Buharism which was used to describe the economic principles and political ideology of his government. Buhari is currently running for a second term in office in the 2019 presidential elections. presents the full biography of the man behind the concept of Buharism and the name SaiBaba.

Muhammadu Buhari Early Life

Muhammadu Buhari is a native of Daura, Katsina State born on the 17th of December, 1942. His father, Adamu Buhari was a popular Fulani chief while his mom, Zulaihatu Buhari was of Hausa extraction.  At the age of four, Buhari lost his father which left him to be raised solely by his mother. He was the thirteenth child of his mother and the last child of the entire polygamous family into which he was born.

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Buhari started his education at the age of six at the local central Primary School in Daura. He proceeded to the Katsina Model school in 1953 and then Katsina Provincial Secondary School now known as Government College, Katsina in 1956.

Buhari’s first experience of leadership was when he became the head prefect at Katsina Provincial Secondary School. After his secondary education, Buhari advanced to join the Army which was then referred to as the Royal Army. In 1961, Buhari’s application was successful as he gained admission into the Nigeria Military training College now known as Nigerian Defence Academy. In time, Buhari became the head of his unit as a Military Cadet giving him more leadership experience.

Buhari in the army
Buhari in the army



Buhari attended the US Army College in Pennsylvania, United States where he obtained a Master Degree in Strategic Studies.

In 1963, Buhari was appointed as the Platoon commander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta after he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. This was a window of opportunities as he was privileged to attend further trainings which gave him an advantage of rising through ranks in the army.

In 1965, Buhari attended Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in England as well as the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India in 1973.

Buhari participated and played special roles

in the Nigeria civil war between 1967 and 1970. He was also part of a number of other post-civil war military coups.


Muhammadu Buhari Political Career

In 1975, Buhari was appointed as the governor of the North Eastern State during the regime of General Muritala Mohammed.

Between February 3, 1976 and March 15, 1976, he briefly served as the Governor of Borno State when the North Eastern State was divided into Bauchi, Borno and Gongola State by the then military government.

In March 1976, he was appointed as the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources under the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo. He was also the chairman of the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation which was created in 1977. He retained this position until 1978.

Between 1978 and 1979, Buhari served as the Military Secretary at the Army headquarter and a member of the Supreme Military Council.

In 1983,he became the Head of State of the Nation after obtaining power in a military coup d’état. The coup overthrew the democratically elected government of the then President Shehu Shagari. According to New York Times report, the officers who seized power argued that a flawed democracy was worse than no democracy at all. Thereby justifying their seizure of power which ended Nigeria’s period of multiparty democracy at the time.

Buhari’s government was characterised with several economic and political initiatives.

In 1984, Buhari launched what was to become one of his most popular legacies, the War Against Indiscipline (WAI). The initiative was developed to caution Nigerians and battle the offensive lack of public morality.

The Buhari government also faced a number of scandals including the case of 53 suitcases with unknown contents which were said to be transported by the Emir of Gwandu, who was the father of one of Buhari’s Aide-de-camp. The case was that the cases were cleared at the customs without being inspected as the said Emir was returning from Saudi Arabia.

The government was also reported to be involved in jailing his critics. A popular case was that of Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Buhari’s regime was branded by a lot of criticism. A common one was written by Professor Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Prize winner who wrote a piece titled The Crimes of Buhari outlining a number of abuses conducted under the Buhari regime.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

However Buhari’s regime was described to be characterised by a huge level of public discipline, reduced corruption and inflation as well as increased productivity.


In the year 1985, Buhari was overthrown by a coup that brought in Major General Ibrahim Babangida. At this period, Buhari was detained in a guarded bungalow in Benin City where he had access to a television showing just two channel and visitation by family members only at Babangida’s discretion until the year 1988. Major General Babangida included many of Buhari’s critics in his administration.

In 1994, Buhari was again appointed as the Executive Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund ( OTF) under the Abacha administration.

In 2003, Buhari returned into politics under the democratic dispensation that began in 1999 and contested in the presidential election under the umbrella of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and lost.  In 2007, still under the umbrella of the same party, he lost the same position to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the People’s Democratic Party.

In 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for a new party, the Congress for Progressive Change and became the presidential candidate of the party in the 2011 elections. Buhari again lost the election to the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan .

Eventually in 2015, Buhari won the presidential election which he contested for on the platform of the All Progressives Congress party.

Buhari is currently contesting for a second term in office as the president of Nigeria in the 2019 elections.

Muhammadu Buhari Marriage and Family Life

In 1971, Buhari got married to his first wife known as Safinatu Yusuf, Safinatu birthed five children Zulaihat, Fatima, Musa, Hadiza and Safinatu. Zulaihat was named after Buhari’s mother.

Buhari with family
Buhari with family

In 1988, Buhari divorced Safinatu and got married to a woman known as Aisha Halilu in 1989 who is now popularly known as Aisha Buhari. Aisha also birthed five children for Buhari including Aisha, Halima, Yusuf, Zarah and Amina.

In 2006, Safinatu was reported to have died from complications of diabetes.

Muhammadu Buhari Children

Buhari had ten children but lost two, Musa, a son from his former wife Safinatu and Zulaihat from the same mother. One of his children Halima is a Barrister of law after she was called to the Nigerian Bar. Yusuf, the only son of Aisha graduated from the University of Surrey, United Kingdom.

Muhammadu Buhari Awards and Honours

Muhamadu Buhari has received a number of awards and honours both nationally and internationally.

In 2016, Buhari was honoured with the Grand Collar of the Order of the Independence by the President Tyeodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.

Other awards include the Defence Service Medal, Grand Commander of the Republic of Nigeria (GCFR), Nation Service Medal (NSM), Forces Service Star, Loyal Service and Good Conduct Medal among others.

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