Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari
Shagari, Alhaji Shehu (Usman Aliyu)
b. c. 1924,, Shagari, Nigeria
A member of the Muslim Fulani people of northern Nigeria and a descendant of a tribe that had founded his home village, Shagari studied at a secondary school in Kaduna and taught school briefly before entering politics in 1954 and being elected to the federal House of Representatives. Thereafter he held several posts and was a member of every administration after Nigeria's independence in 1960. Upon the end of military rule (1979), he was elected president of Nigeria, defeating his major rival, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, by a narrow margin.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari was Secretary, Sokoto branch of the Northern Peoples' Congress (NPC) from 1951-56 and represented Sokoto West between 1954 and 1958 in the House of Representatives in Lagos after which he held several public positions.
In 1958 he was parliamentary Secretary to the then Prime Minister, acting Federal Minister of Commerce and Industry in 1959, Minister of Economic Development, 1959-60, Minister of Pensions and Establishments, 1960-1962, Minister of Internal Affairs, 1962-65 and Minister of Works, 1965-66.
After the civil war, 1970-71, he held the important post of Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. Later, he was appointed member of the Constituent Assembly.
Nigeria was badly shaken by the international economic crisis of the early 1980s. Shagari took several steps to try to strengthen the economy--cutting the budget, calling in the International Monetary Fund, and expelling 2,000,000 aliens in 1983. He won the bitterly contested presidential elections in 1983, but the state of the economy and corruption in his administration worsened, and on December 31 a military coup led by Major General Mohammed Buhari toppled the government and Shagari was arrested. Shagari was cleared of personal corruption charges and released from detention in 1986 but was banned from participation in Nigerian politics for life.