Nigeria has been a close ally of the United Kingdom since it gained its independence in 1960. Queen Elizabeth II was the British Monarch when Nigeria gained independence and she has met several Nigeria leaders since then till date. Her interface with Nigerian leaders has spanned over 60 years with her signature handshake seen being extended in nearly all her pictures with them.
Since Nigeria became a republic in 1963, 13 people have served as heads of state of Nigeria under different titles. The Queen met many of them on different occasions. At some point, she paid visits to Nigeria and warmed the soil and the hearts of many with her smile and she maintained a cordial relationship with Nigeria until her death on September 8, 2022.
As queen, she had the obligation to visit Commonwealth nations. And of the well over 50 trips she made to the commonwealth nations, she visited Nigeria twice first in 1956 before independence, and in 2003, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, under the then-president Olusegun Obasanjo.
She has met with different Nigerian leaders at various times and at various locations around the world.
Nigerian Leaders who met Queen Elizabeth II before independence
Sir Nnamdi Azikiwe and Queen Elizabeth II during Her Tour To Nigeria, in 1956
Photo Story of Queen Elizabeth II with various Nigerian Leaders who met her since independence
Former Nigerian Head of State Yakubu Gowon, with Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace during an official visit to London, UK, June 1973.
Two presidents that served both during the Military era and civilian era and encountered the queen are, President Olusegun Obasanjo who served as the 5th and 12th head of state, and President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s 15th head of state, who served as the 7th head of state during the military regime between 1983 and 1985.
The reign of Queen Elizabeth II saw every president of Nigeria from independence to date. Below is a list.
- Sir James Robertson (1 October 1960 – 16 November 1960)
- Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (16 November 1960 – 1 October 1963 – 16 January 1966)
- Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (16 January 1966 – 29 July 1966)
- General Yakubu Gowon (1 August 1966 – 29 July 1975)
- General Murtala Mohammed (29 July 1975 – 13 February 1976)
- General Olusegun Obasanjo (13 February 1976 – 1 October 1979)
- Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1 October 1979 – 31 December 1983)
- Major General Muhammadu Buhari (31 December 1983 – 27 August 1985)
- General Ibrahim Babangida (27 August 1985 – 26 August 1993)
- Chief Ernest Shonekan (26 August 1993 – 17 November 1993)
- General Sani Abacha (7 November 1993- 8 June 1998)
- General Abdulsalami Abubakar (8 June 1998 – 29 May 1999)
- Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007)
- Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (29 May 2007 – 5 May 2010)
- Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (5 May 2010 – 29 May 2015)
- Muhammadu Buhari (29 May 2015 – till date)
Story: Ehizogie Ohiani
Photo Credit: Alamy, Getty Images, Life archives, Flickr