Since her Independence in 1960, Nigeria has had 16 presidents/heads of state. Current President Muhammadu Buhari has also served as head of state between 1983-1985 which makes it his second bite as the ruler of the country. Also, Olusegun Obasanjo was head of state of the country between 1976 and 1979 before handing over to the second republic president Alhaji Shehu Shagari and was later elected under a democratic rule in the year 1999. This makes it 14 distinct presidents/head of state that has had the honor of being the rulers of our beloved Nigeria.
Since her independence, Nigeria has gone through different phases of ups and downs with different levels of financial powers of different administrations.
These different presidents have amassed wealth over the years in different ways. Unfortunately, most Nigerian presidents accumulated their wealth through embezzlement of public funds, and many of these administrations were earmarked by corruption on a large scale which enabled the Presidents to amass public funds to get rich. In this article, I discuss the top 10 richest presidents in Nigeria we had in this country.
Top 10 Richest Presidents In Nigeria
1. General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
Alleged to be worth about 5 Billion Dollars, Babangida is one of the richest Nigerian Presidents in history. Babangida presided over an 8-year rule of the country which was one of the most controversial periods in Nigerian history termed the “Babangida era” from becoming the first un-elected military president of the country and being the first president to create the office of the first lady for his wife at the time Maryam Babangida.
Babangida attributes his wealth to ownership of big shares in various top Nigerian companies which he has kept a secret from the public. Various articles have alleged that the Babangida administration was riddled with a lot of corruption but he has repeatedly refuted these claims saying his government “were Saints”. A 2011 Forbes article also claimed Babangida was worth 12 Billion dollars, an allegation he also refuted.
2. General Sani Abacha
Abacha served as chief of staff and later chief of defense staff under the Babangida regime. His wealth source is one of the most controversial in the history of the country as the regime saw corruption in Nigeria get to its peak. He was allegedly worth 4 Billion dollars at the time of his death in 1998.
Further probes into his wealth after his death have uncovered a lot of corruption activities that took place under his regime including the use of several foreign banks to launder Public funds raking up to 1 Billion Dollars. The Nigerian government in collaboration with the United States government recovered several looted funds with the son of the late general even pledging to return up to 1 Billion Dollars of embezzled public funds.
3. Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo
The man was one of the most successful Nigerian leaders, the second richest president in Nigeria, and ran a very tight ship and dominance during his time in office. Chief Obasanjo is worth a whopping 1.8 Billion dollars and he owes his fortune to his multiple businesses, majorly the Obasanjo Farm which is one of the biggest Agricultural Outlets in the country.
Obasanjo is one of the biggest advocates of Nigerian exploring her Agricultural prowess as an alternative to Petroleum and the Obasanjo Farms is one of Obasanjo’s biggest investments as well as owning shares in several other businesses.
4. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
The man who many say his name precedes his fortunes. Goodluck Jonathan first tasted office in 2009 after the demise of Yar’dua and was later elected in 2011. Goodluck Jonathan has a net worth of about 130 Million Dollars which makes him come in 4th place.
Goodluck Jonathan received a lot of criticism during his time in office as he was alleged to turn a blind eye to the corrupt practices of his appointed cabinet members who mismanaged public funds and plunged the economy deeper into dangerous waters and the controversial abduction of the Chibok girls during the Jonathan administration.
5. Muhammadu Buhari
After serving as head of state of the country between 1983 and 1985, Buhari attempted to be democratically elected on 4 different occasions before being successful in 2015. He declared a fortune of 30 million Naira when he got elected but now has a fortune of 100 Million Dollars a very significant difference since taking power.
Buhari is a big player in the cow rearing business and prides himself in the cow rearing business and maybe his newfound wealth is as a result of the booming cow rearing industry.
6. Umaru Musa Yar’adua
The beloved Yar’adua was a people’s favorite and he was the first Nigerian president/head of state to publicly declare his assets in 2007 which amounted to about 5.8 Million Dollars.
He was very influential in his time as he sought to eradicate embezzlement of funds by his cabinet members and also brought an end to the Niger Delta militant menace that ravaged the country during the Obasanjo regime.
7. Alhaji Shehu Shagari
The President of the second republic Shehu Shagari comes 7th on the list. He was known for his deflection of Nigeria’s economic focus from oil to Agriculture, Industry, Housing, and Transportation during the Oil boom in Nigeria which hindered the Oil growth of the Nigerian economy. He has a net worth of 5 million dollars.
8. Nnamdi “Zik” Azikwe
Zik was the first ceremonial President of the country when the Country adopted the British system of ruling. He was worth 2 million dollars at the time of his death. He amassed wealth with the sale of his successful books and as being the founder of the foremost newspaper in that era “The WestAfrican Pilot”. He was described as the father of Nationalism and promoted and fought for the independence of the country through his books and newspaper.
9. Yakubu “Jack” Gowon
Yakubu Gowon took over the reins during the period of the major oil boom in Nigeria. He is worth 1 Million Dollars. Gowon once made a controversial statement saying the only problem of Nigeria was how to spend her newfound Oil money which many critics took as him indirectly embezzling public funds.
10. Muritala Mohammed
A victim of one of the most gruel coups in Nigeria. He was killed at the young age of 36. He was worth a modest 500 Thousand dollars during his time as head of state which makes him the 10th richest Nigerian President in history. The Mohammed regime was earmarked by a lot of poverty alleviation schemes and he was beloved by the people.
Nigerian Presidents have generally been at the forefront of corruption and mismanagement of public funds. Many of the presidents top of the list are beneficiaries of the Nigerian Oil wealth and some owe their wealth to successful business ventures before and during their time as president/head of state.