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Abdulsalami A. Abubakar
11th Head of State of Nigeria

In office
June 9, 1998 – May 29, 1999
Preceded by Sani Abacha
Succeeded by Olusegun Obasanjo
Personal details
Born June 13, 1942(1942-06-13) (age 80)
Minna, Niger State
Political party none (military)
Spouse(s) Fati Lami Abubakar
Children six
Alma mater Technical Institute, Kaduna
Occupation Soldier
Religion Islam
Military service
Service/branch Nigerian Air Force
Nigerian Army
Years of service 1963 - 1967 (Air Force)
1967 - 1999 (Army)
Rank General
Photo credit: September 24, 1998 UN Photo of Abdulsalami Abubakar, Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar (rtd.) (About this sound pronunction  ahb-doo-sah-LAM-ee ah-boo-BAH-kahr born June 13, 1942) is a Nigerian general who was President of Nigeria from June 9, 1998 until May 29, 1999. He succeeded Sani Abacha upon Abacha's death. It was during Abubakar's leadership that Nigeria adopted its new constitution on May 5, 1999, which provided for multiparty elections. Abubakar transferred power to president-elect Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999.

Early life and military career

Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar hails from the Hausa ethnic group and was born on June 13, 1942 in Minna, Niger State. He was educated at Native Authority Primary School in that city, the Provincial Secondary School in Bida, and finally the Technical Institute, Kaduna.[1] After this, he joined the military. Abubakar led Nigeria's contingent in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and eventually rose to the role of Chief of Defence Staff.[1] His wife's name is Fati and they have six children.[2]


Nigeria had been ruled by military leaders since Muhammadu Buhari seized power from Shehu Shagari in a 1983 coup.[3] Although democratic elections had been held in 1993, they were annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida. Reported to have had an initial reluctance to accepting the position,[2] Abubakar was sworn in as president on 9 June 1998 after the unexpected death of Abacha. He declared a weeklong period of national mourning.[1]

A few days after assuming office, Abubakar promised to hold elections within a year and transfer power to an elected president.[3] He established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), appointing former Supreme Court Justice Ephraim Akpata as chairman.[4] The INEC held a series of elections first for Local Government Areas in December 1998, then for State Assemblies and Governors, National Assemblies and finally for the President on 27 February 1999. Although efforts were made to ensure that the elections were free and fair, there were widespread irregularities that drew criticism from foreign observers.[5]

Surprising some critics of the country's military,[2] Abubakar kept his word and transferred power to elected president Obasanjo on May 29, 1999. It was during his leadership that Nigeria adopted its new constitution on May 5, 1999, which went into effect when Obasanjo became president.[3]

Later life

Following his short rule Abubakar received multiple honors, including the Rainbow/Push Coalition Peace Prize, the Economic Community of West African States International Gold Medal, and the Star Award of Ghana.[2] In 2000, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed him to try to shore up the UN Mission (MONUC) to the Congo-Kinshasa.[6]

However, Abubakar's legacy is mixed. A lecture circuit at Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois, United States featuring him encountered opposition, because he had supported Abacha's government.[7] (Abacha's administration was notorious for its human rights abuses).[7][8] He was also sued in that country by other Nigerians who claimed he was responsible for the death of 1993 president-elect Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who died in custody after being prevented by the military from taking office, and for the violation of the rights of others during his administration.[9]

Abubakar helped in the Liberian peace movement by presiding over the 2003 peace talks between Charles Taylor and the opposing rebels. This is seen in the movie: "Pray the Devil Back to Hell".

Books by Abubakar

  • Abubakar, Abdulsalami. (1998) Nigeria: A new beginning. Publisher: Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. ASIN: B0006FDZZG


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Successor to General Sani Abacha appointed". IFEX Alerts. International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 1998-06-09. Retrieved 2007-06-07. [dead link]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Abdulsalami Abubakar". Online Nigeria. Devace Nigeria. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Nigeria". The World Factbook Online. Central Intelligence Agency. 2007-05-31. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 
  4. "INEC History". Independent National Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  5. "OBSERVING THE 1998-99 NIGERIA ELECTIONS". Carter Center, NDI. SUMMER 1999. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  6. Crossette, Barbara (2000-08-19). "As Peace Mission Deteriorates, U.N. Sends an Envoy to Congo". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. A7. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Akande, Laolu. "NCP, North America, protests Abdulsalami Lecture Series". National Conscience Party. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  8. "Interview with Abubakar". Online News Hour. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. 1998-10-21. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  9. Aboyade, Funke. "‘Conflicting Court Orders in Abdulsalami Case Avoidable’". Thisday Online. Leaders & Company Limited. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Sani Abacha
Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria
Succeeded by
Olusegun Obasanjo
Preceded by
Sani Abacha
Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States
Succeeded by
Gnassingbé Eyadéma

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