Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, January 07, 2019

Nigerian history

Shehu Shagari was an important part of Nigeria's early political history.

Shehu Shagari, Former Nigerian President, Dies at 93
Shehu Shagari, the former president of Nigeria who sought to revive democratic rule only to be deposed by military officers impatient with his seeming inability to confront endemic corruption and economic crisis, died on Friday in Abuja, the capital. He was 93…

It was a token of Nigeria’s long tug-of-war between the barracks and the ballot box that President Muhammadu Buhari — who, as an army general, removed Mr. Shagari from power in 1983 — returned to office in the 2015 elections, the first peaceful transfer of power between civilians of different political parties since Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960...

Mr. Shagari was president for just over four years, winning two elections, both of them disputed by his opponents. He was criticized by his adversaries for his meekness in governing sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous nation. Indeed, with his scholarly manners, the undemonstrative Mr. Shagari, a former schoolteacher raised as a devout Sunni Muslim, sometimes seemed an unlikely figurehead for a nation that projected itself as Africa’s colossus.

While most post-independence rulers were high-ranking soldiers bent on enforcing their will with scant regard for consensus-building, Mr. Shagari… described himself as a conciliator who operated above the daily joust of Nigeria’s politics…

It was on Mr. Shagari’s watch, too, that the authorities made it a priority to proceed with the construction of a new capital in Abuja to escape the chaos and tribal affiliations of Lagos, which remained the commercial heart of the country.

In theory, the location and design of the new capital were emblems of unity among the dominant ethnic groups, roughly equidistant from the Yoruba heartland in the southwest, Ibo strongholds in the east and the largely Hausa Fulani north…

He became active in local youth politics in his 20s and held ministerial posts in the governments that followed independence, until he fled the capital to avoid arrest after the first military coup in 1966. He returned to farm in Sokoto, where he lived during Nigeria’s bloody civil war…

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