Muhammadu Buhari was born on December 17,1942, in Daura, Katsina State, to his father Adamu and his mother, Zulaihat. He is the twenty-third child of his father. Buhari was raised by his mother, after his father died when he was about three or four-year-old.
In 1971, Buhari married his first wife, Safinatu (née Yusuf) Buhari (First lady of Nigeria December 1983-August 1985). They had five children together, four girls and one boy. Their first daughter, Zulaihat is named after Buhari’s mother. Their other children are Fatima, Musa (deceased), Hadiza, and Safinatu.
In 1988, Buhari and his first wife Safinatu were divorced. In December 1989, Buhari married his second and current wife Aisha (née Halilu) Buhari. They also have five children together, a boy and four girls. They are Aisha, Halima, Yusuf, Zarah and Amina.
On January 14, 2006, Safinatu Buhari, the former first lady, died from complications of diabetes. She was buried at Unguwar Rimi cemetery in accordance with Islamic rites.
In November 2012, Buhari’s first daughter, Zulaihat (née Buhari) Junaid died from sickle cell anaemia, two days after having a baby at a Hospital in Kaduna.
Buhari joined the Nigerian Army in 1961, when he attended the Nigerian Military Training College (in February 1964, it was renamed the Nigerian Defence Academy, in Kaduna. From 1962-1963, he underwent Officer Cadets training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England (Mons OCS was officially closed down in 1972).
In January 1963, Buhari was commissioned a second lieutenant, and appointed Platoon Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta, Nigeria. From November 1963- January 1964, Buhari attended the Platoon Commanders’ Course at the Nigerian Military College, Kaduna. In 1964, he facilitated his military training by attending the Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, United Kingdom.
From 1965-1967, Buhari served as Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion. He was appointed Brigade Major, Second Sector, First Infantry Division, April 1967 to July 1967.
Buhari was made Brigade Major of the Third Infantry Brigade in July 1967 to October 1968 and Brigade Major/Commandant, Thirty-first Infantry Brigade, 1970-1971.
Buhari served as the Assistant Adjutant-General, First Infantry Division Headquarters, 1971-1972. He also attended the Defense Services Staff College, Wellington, India, in 1973.
From 1974-1975 Buhari was appointed Acting Director, Transport and Supply, Nigerian Army Corps of Supply and Transport Headquarters.
He was also made Military Secretary, Army Headquarters,1978-1979, and was a member of the Supreme Military Council, 1978-1979.
From 1979 -1980, at the rank of colonel, Buhari (class of 1980) attended the US Army War College (established in 1901) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States of America and gained a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies. Upon completion of the on-campus full-time resident programme lasting 10 months and the two-year-long, distance learning program, the United States Army War College (USAWC) college awards its graduate officers a master’s degree in Strategic Studies.
Other roles include:
• General Officer Commanding, 4th Infantry Division, Aug. 1980 – Jan. 1981
• General Officer Commanding, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Division, Jan. 1981 – October 1981
• General Officer Commanding, 3rd Armed Division Nigerian Army, October 1981 – December 1983
In July 1966, Lieutenant Muhammadu Buhari was one of the participants in a coup led by Lt-Col Murtala Muhammed that overthrew and assassinated Nigeria’s first self-appointed military Head of State General Aguiyi Ironsi, who assumed leadership of the Nigerian government after a failed coup attempt on January 15, 1966, which overthrew the elected parliamentary system of government of independent Nigeria (also known as First Republic).
Ironsi’s assumption of Nigeria’s leadership was technically another coup following the January 15, 1966 coup. Other participants in the July 28, 1966 coup included 2nd Lieutenant Sani Abacha, Lieutenant Ibrahim Babangida , Major Theophilus Danjuma, Lieutenant Ibrahim Bako among others. The coup was a reaction to the January 15 coup where a group of mostly Igbo, led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
Many Northern soldiers were aggrieved by the murder of senior politicians, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, northern regional premier, Ahmadu Bello, and four senior officers, Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari, Colonel Kur Mohammed, Lt-Cols Abogo Largema and James Pam. The counter-coup was very bloody leading to the murder of mostly Igbo officers. Among the casualties were the first military head of state General Aguiyi Ironsi and Lt Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, the military governor of the Western Region.
In August 1975, after General Murtala Mohammed took power that year, he appointed Buhari as Governor of the North-Eastern State, to oversee social, economic and political improvements in the state.
In February 1976, the North Eastern state was divided by the then Military Government into Bauchi, Borno and Gongola states. In August 1991, Yobe state was created from Borno state, while Gongola state was split into two states, Taraba and Adamawa. In October 1996, Gombe State was created from Bauchi State.
In March 1976, the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Buhari as the Federal Commissioner (position now called Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was created in 1976, Buhari was also appointed as its Chairman, a position he held until 1978. During his tenure as Commissioner, 2.8 billion Naira allegedly went missing from the accounts of the NNPC in Midlands Bank in the United Kingdom. Former President Ibrahim Babangida allegedly accused Buhari of being responsible for his fraud.
However, according to the Modalities for Coordinating Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Strategies, Constructive Engagement Vol.1 No.1, (2009), in 1983, Shagari administration inaugurated the Crude Oil Sales Tribunal of Inquiry, headed by Justice Ayo Irikefe, to investigate allegations of N2.8 billion misappropriation from the NNPC account. The tribunal however found no truth in the allegations even though it noticed some lapses in the NNPC accounts.
In 1983, when Chadian forces invaded Nigeria in the Borno State, Buhari used the forces under his command to chase them out of the country, crossing into Chadian territory in spite of an order given by then President Shehu Shagari to withdraw. This 1983 Chadian military affair led to more than 100 victims and “prisoners of war”.
Major-General Buhari was one of the leaders of the Nigerian Military Coup of December 31, 1983 that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari. At the time of the coup plot, Buhari was the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Third Armored Division of Jos. With the successful execution of the coup, General Tunde Idiagbon, Buhari was appointed Chief of General Staff (the de facto No. 2 in the administration). The coup ended Nigeria’s short-lived Second Republic, a period of multiparty democracy started in 1979. According to the New York Times, the officers who took power argued that “a flawed democracy was worse than no democracy at all.” Buhari justified the military’s seizure of power by castigating the civilian government as hopelessly corrupt and promptly suspended Nigeria’s 1979 Constitution.
In order to reform the economy, as Head of State, Buhari started to rebuild the nation’s social-political and economic systems, along the realities of Nigeria’s austere economic conditions. The rebuilding included removing or cutting back the excesses in national expenditure, obliterating or removing completely corruption from the nation’s social ethics, shifting from mainly public sector employment to self-employment. Buhari also encouraged import substitution industrialisation based to a great extent on the use of local materials and he tightened importation.
Buhari broke ties with the International Monetary Fund, when the fund asked the government to devalue the naira by 60%. However, the reforms that Buhari instigated on his own were as or more rigorous as those required by the IMF.
On May 7, 1984, Buhari announced the country’s 1984 National Budget. The budget came with a series of complementary measures:
• A temporary ban on recruiting federal public sector workers
• Raising of interest rates
• Halting capital projects
• Prohibition of borrowing by state governments
• 15 percent cut from Shagari’s 1983 Budget
• Realignment of import duties
• Reducing the balance of payment deficit by cutting imports
• It also gave priority to the importation of raw materials and spare parts that were needed for agriculture and industry.
Other economic measures by Buhari took the form of counter trade, currency change, price reduction of goods and services.
In 2003, Buhari contested the presidential election as the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party. He was defeated by the People’s Democratic Party nominee, President Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, by a margin of more than eleven million votes.
On 18 December 2006, Gen. Buhari was nominated as the consensus candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party. His main challenger in the April 2007 polls was the ruling PDP candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, who hailed from the same home state of Katsina. In the election, Buhari officially took 18% of the vote against 70% for Yar’Adua, but Buhari rejected these results. After Yar’Adua took office, the ANPP agreed to join his government, but Buhari denounced this agreement.
In March 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressive Change, a party that he had helped to found. He said he had supported foundation of the CPC “as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party the ANPP”.
Buhari was the CPC Presidential candidate in the 16 April 2011 general election, running against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of thePeople’s Democratic Party, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of Action Congress of Nigeria, and Ibrahim Shekarau of ANPP. They were the major contenders among 20 contestants. He was running on an anti-corruption platform and pledged to remove immunity protections from government officials. He also gave support to enforcement of Sharia law in Nigeria’s northern states, which had previously caused him political difficulties among Christian voters in the country’s south.
The elections were marred by widespread sectarian violence, which claimed the lives of 800 people across the country, as hoodlums, who were suspected to be Buhari’s supporters, attacked Christian settlements in the country’s center regions. The three-day uprising was blamed in part on Buhari’s inflammatory comments.
In spite of assurances from Human Rights Watch, who had judged the elections as “among the fairest in Nigeria’s history”, Buhari claimed that the poll was flawed and warned that “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the ‘dog and the baboon’ would all be soaked in blood”.
However, he remains a “folk hero” to some for his vocal opposition to corruption. Buhari polled 12,214,853 votes, coming in second to the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, who polled 22,495,187 votes and was declared the winner.
In the run up to the 2015 Presidential elections, the campaign team of Jonathan asked for the disqualification of General Buhari from the race, claiming that he is in breach of the Constitution.
According to the fundamental document, in order to qualify for election to the office of the President, an individual must be “educated up to at least secondary school certificate level or its equivalent”. Buhari did not submit any such evidence, claiming that he lost the original copies of his diplomas when his house was raided following his overthrow from power in 1985.
Buhari ran in the 2015 Presidential election as a candidate of the All Progressives Congress. His platform is built around his image as a stunch anti-corruption fighter and his incorruptible and honest reputation. However, Buhari stated in an interview that he will not probe past corrupt leaders and that he would give officials, who stole in the past amnesty, insofar as they repent.
In February 2015, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo quit the ruling PDP party and threw his support behind the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket.
Muhammadu Buhari is the new president-elect and winner of the March 28, 2015 presidential election, in accordance with the votes counted by Nigeria’s Electoral agency, the Independent National Electoral Commission, on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.