The story, Abdulsalam Abubakar!

June 10, 1998
Web posted at 7:29 p.m. EDT (2329 GMT)

Charlotte, USA (NigeriaWorld) -- Nigeria's temporary illegal Head of State.


General Abdulsalam Abubakar is Nigeria's eighth military Head of State (after Ironsi, Gowon, Mohammed, Obasanjo, Buhari, Babangida and Abacha) since the country's independence from Britain 38 years ago. He was born on 13 June 1942 in Minna, Niger State in Northern Nigeria.

The new head of state makes six out of eight soldiers of northern extraction to have ruled Nigeria.

He had his earlier education at the Native Authority Primary School in Minna.

Between 1957 and 1962, he attended the Provincial Secondary School, Bida. He also attended the Technical Institute, Kaduna.

He enlisted first into the Airforce but quickly switched to the army. Besides other local training, he was in the United States between 1975 and 1977 on a training course.

Abdulsalam was appointed commander of the 3rd Mechanized Brigade in Kano between 1969 and 1979. He also served as a Nigerian contingent to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon between 1981 and 1982 after which he was promoted to colonel in August 1984. Later, he was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division, Enugu, and became a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC).

From Enugu, he was moved to Kaduna, as GOC of the strategic One Mechanized Division. On November 17, 1993, he was appointed chief of Defense staff, the position he held until his appointment as the current Head of State.

Abubakar is one of the few generals in the Nigerian army who rose to the top without holding political office. He has held only command and military positions, and has, in general, stayed out of the political limelight.

The new head of state's wife, Fatima, is a high court judge. They together have three daughters and two sons.

Abubakar is reportedly ill with some medical condition and prone to neurological seizures. His appointment comes just four days before his 56th birthday on June 13.

Strangely enough, former head of state Ibrahim Babangida grew up in the same household with Abubakar. Babangida annulled presidential elections in 1993 and threw the nation in chaos. The chaos led to Abacha's takeover.

Abubakar's father adopted Babangida who was orphaned at birth.

While his temperament as a military dictator/head of state and a muslim is difficult to predict, in general, Abubakar is known to project a timid and cautious disposition.

Chuck E. Odili, Webmaster