© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Seven times Shagari was federal minister before becoming Nigerian president
NIGERIA’s first executive president, late Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari remains probably, the only Nigerian who had held more ministerial positions in the history of Nigeria.
Shagari, in the space of 16 years, between 1959 and 1975 held seven different Ministerial portfolios before becoming Nigeria’s first elected president in 1979 under what was known as the Second Republic.
He died on Friday at the National Hospital, Abuja at the age of 93.
Foray into politics
Encyclopaedia Britannica described Shagari as one of the few northerners to show interest in national politics before independence. His first contact with active politics was in 1951, when he became the secretary of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in Sokoto, and held the position until 1956.
In 1954 contested and was elected to the federal House of Representatives and represented Sokoto West. He would later be part of every administration after Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
Four years later, precisely, in 1958, Shagari was appointed as parliamentary secretary, though he left the post in 1959 for the Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
He would in the same year serve as the Federal Minister for Commerce and Industries.
Between 1959 and 1960, Shagari was redeployed to the Ministry for Economic Development, as the Federal Minister for Economic Development. And between 1960 and 1962, he was moved to the Pensions Ministry as the Federal Minister for Pensions. From 1962-1965, Shagari was made the Federal Minister for Internal Affairs. From 1965 up until the first military coup in January 1966, Shagari was the Federal Minister for works.
After the Nigerian civil war, from 1970-1971, Shagari was appointed by the military head of state General Yakubu Gowon as the Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. He took over from late Obafemi Awolowo who he later ran against and narrowly defeated in 1979 presidential election.
From 1971-75 he served as the Federal Commissioner (a position now called minister) of Finance. During his tenure as the commissioner of finance for Nigeria, Shagari was also a governor for the world bank and a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committee of twenty.
Retirement after politics
After he won the keenly contested presidential elections in 1983, the poor state of the nation’s economy and mind-boggling corruption in his administration led to a coup de tat on December 31, 1983, spearheaded by General Muhammadu Buhari and his cohorts. Shagari was arrested but was cleared of personal corruption charges and released from detention in 1986. He was however banned from participation in Nigerian politics for life and he retired to his Shagari village in Sokoto State.