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What You Should Know About All Nigeria’s Past First Ladies



The wife of a country’s president is referred to as the First Lady, which is a feature of modern democracy. Nigeria’s Past First Ladies

Following a President’s inauguration, his wife assumes control of the First Lady’s Office.

The First Lady of Nigeria, like many democracies, is an informal but accepted title held by the wife of Nigeria’s president.

Nigeria’s current First Lady is Aisha Halilu Buhari. She is the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office on May 29, 2015.

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

The Nigerian Constitution does not create an office for the country’s first lady or potential first gentleman. However, the first lady of Nigeria has received official funding and staff since the country’s independence. The First Lady is addressed as Her Excellency.

Nigeria has had several First Ladies since its independence.

In this article, we will look at some of the country’s previous First Ladies.


Flora Azikiwe (1 October 1963 – 16 January 1966)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Flora Azikiwe was married to Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first President. From 1 October 1963 to 16 January 1966, she served as Nigeria’s first First Lady.

Onitsha is where she was born. She met Nnamdi Azikiwe there in 1934, and the two married on April 4, 1936.

Their wedding took place in James Town, Accra, Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), where her husband was the editor of the African Morning Post at the time.

She died in August 1983. Her husband and she had three sons and a daughter.


Zainab, Jummai, Umma, Zainab and Laraba Tafawa-Balewa (1 October 1963 – 16 January 1966)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister.

He served as Prime Minister from October 1, 1960, until he was deposed and murdered in a military coup on January 15, 1966.

Jummai, Umma, Zainab, and Laraba were his four wives.


Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi (16 January 1966 – 29 July 1966)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi got married to Nigeria’s first military ruler, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, in 1953.

Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi became the first military head of state of Nigeria following the January 15 1966 coup d’etat.

The Aguiyi-Ironsi government was deposed after only six months in office by younger military officers who assassinated him.

Their son, Thomas Aguiyi Aguiyi-Ironsi, was appointed Nigeria’s Defense Minister on August 30, 2006, 40 years after his father’s death.


Victoria Gowon (1 August 1966 – 29 July 1975)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Victoria Gowon is the wife of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who rose to power after the July 1966 counter-coup that established military rule in Nigeria.

Gowon married Miss Victoria Zakari, a trained nurse, in 1969 at the Cathedral Church of Christ in Lagos, in a ceremony officiated by Seth Irunsewe Kale.

Gowon became Nigeria’s longest-serving head of state, ruling for nearly nine years until his overthrow in the 1975 coup d’état by Brigadier Murtala Mohammed.

Victoria and Yakubu Gowon have three children, two girls and one boy. Nigeria’s Past First Ladies


Ajoke Mohammed (29 July 1975 – 13 February 1976)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Ajoke Mohammed was married to the late General Murtala Mohammed, who ruled Nigeria from July 30, 1975, until his death on February 13, 1976.

She was the mother of six children for the late General. They are, from oldest to youngest, Aisha, Zakari (deceased), Fatima, Abba (also known as Risqua), Zeliha, and Jummai.

Abba Muhammed was President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on Privatization.



Esther Oluremi Obasanjo (13 February 1976 – 1 October 1979)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Remi Obasanjo was the first wife of Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s Head of State from 1976 to 1979.

In 1963, they married in London. She represented him at a number of international events and functions during his tenure as Head of State.

They had a total of six children. Senator Iyabo (b. 1967), Busola (b. 1968), Olusegun (b. 1969), Olugbenga (b. 1971), Enitan (b. 1975), and Damilola (b. 1975) are among them (b. 982).

Remi and Olusegun Obasanjo divorced later.


Safinatu Buhari (31 December 1983 – 27 August 1985)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Hajiya Safinatu Buhari was the wife of General Mohammadu Buhari when he was Head of State from 1983 to 1985. She was born on December 11, 1952.

Hajiya and her husband divorced in 1988, after 12 years of marriage. President Muhammadu married his second and current wife, Aisha, in December 1989.

President Muhammadu and Safinatu had five children together, one boy and four girls. Zulaihat, Fatima, Musa, Hadiza, and Safinatu are the names of these children (deceased).

Safinatu Buhari died on 14th January 2006.


Maryam Babangida (27 August 1985 -26 August 1993)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Maryam Babangida was the wife of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the President of Nigeria from 1985 to 1993. She was credited with formalizing the position of Nigeria’s First Lady.

As the first lady, she initiated numerous programs to improve the lives of women.

She and her husband had four children: Aisha, Mohammed, Aminu, and Halima.

Maryam died of ovarian cancer on December 27, 2009, at the age of 61, in a hospital in Los Angeles, California.


Margaret Shonekan (26 August 1993-17 November 1993)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Margaret O. Shonekan is the wife of Ernest Shonekan, the interim President of Nigeria from August 26 to November 17, 1993.

During that brief period of transition, she served as Nigeria’s First Lady.

She had previously worked as a civil servant. She spent the majority of her career with the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

Korede, Kemi, Adeboye, and Yele are the Shonekans’ four children.


Maryam Abacha  (17 November 1993-8 June 1998)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Maryam Abacha is the wife of Sani Abacha, the military ruler of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998.

Abacha died from a heart attack on June 8, 1998, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja, according to the government.

Maryam Abacha remained in Nigeria as of 2000, proclaiming her husband’s innocence despite several human rights violations attributed to him.

She currently resides in Kano State, Nigeria. Nigeria’s Past First Ladies

Three daughters and seven sons were born to Maryam and Sani Abacha.

Mohammed Abacha is Maryam Abacha’s eldest surviving son.

Fati Lami Abubakar  (8 June 1998-29 May 1999)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Fati Lami Abubakar is the wife of Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar, a former military head of state.

She served as Nigeria’s First Lady from June 1998 to May 1999, during the administration of Abdulsalami Abubakar. They have a total of six children.

Following her tenure as First Lady, Abubakar served as the Chief Judge of Niger State from 2013 to 2016.


Stella Obasanjo (29 May 1999-23 October 2005 (Died in office))

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Stella Obasanjo was the wife of Olusegun Obasanjo. Nigeria’s Past First Ladies

She was Nigeria’s First Lady from 1999 to 2003, during her husband’s second term as President. She died on October 23, 2005, while undergoing elective liposuction in Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain.

Stella married General Obasanjo with whom she had one son; Olumuyiwa Obasanjo born in 1977.



Turai Yar’Adua (29 May 2007-9 February 2010)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Hajiya Turai Umar Musa Yar’Adua is the wife of former Katsina State Governor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who went on to become President of Nigeria.

She served as Nigeria’s First Lady from 2007 until her husband, President Yar’Adua, died on May 5, 2010.

Turai married Umaru Yar’Adua in 1975, and the couple has six children: five daughters and two sons. Nigeria’s Past First Ladies


Patience Jonathan ( 6 May 2010-29 May 2015)

Nigeria's Past First Ladies

Dame Patience Jonathan is a former First Lady of Nigeria and the wife of former Governor of Bayelsa State, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who later became President of Nigeria. President Jonathan served as president from May 6, 2010 to May 29, 2015.

Patience Jonathan and her husband have two children, a boy named Urewe Adolphus Jonathan and a girl named Aruabi Jonathan (a girl).

She later worked as a Permanent Secretary in her home state of Bayelsa.

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