On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Britain. An all-Nigerian Executive Council was headed by a Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
On November 16, 1960, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, became the first Governor-General of a Federation of three Regions of the North, East and West, with Lagos as the Federal Capital. Each of the Regions was headed by a Premier with a Governor as Ceremonial Head.
On October 1, 1963, Nigeria became a Federal Republic and severed whatever ties were left with Britain. Nigeria decided, however, to remain in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Governor- General's position was, therefore, re-designated as President. In January 1966, a group of army officers, led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, overthrew the central and regional governments, killed the prime minister, tried to take control of the government in a failed coup d'état. Nzeogwu was countered, captured and imprisoned by General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi. General Aguiyi-Ironsi was named Military Head of State.
In July 1966, a group of northern army officers revolted against the government, killed General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, and appointed the army chief of staff, General Yakubu Gowon as the head of the new military government.
In 1975, Gen. Yakubu Gowon was deposed and General Murtala Mohammed was the Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria until his assassination in 1976.
In 1976 Gen. Obasanjo was made head of state in a meeting of the Supreme Military Council. Keeping the chain of command established by Murtala Muhammed in place.
In 1979, Nigeria adopted a constitution that was modelled on the Constitution of the United States, with provision for a President, Senate, and House of Representatives.
In October 1979, after more than 13 years of military rule, Nigeria was returned to democratic rule. The National Party of Nigeria emerged victorious in the presidential election and Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected President.
December 31, 1983, the military overthrew the Second Republic. Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the Chairman of the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the new Head of State.
In August 1985, the Gen. Buhari government was peacefully overthrown by the then Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. Babangida became the President and chairman Armed Forces Ruling Council.
In 1993, General Babangida steps down in August and chooses interim government. Ernest Shonekan was named as interim president. Gen. Sani Abacha seizes power from Shonekan in November 1993, he became the president and Chairman Provisional Ruling Council.
On 8 June 1998, General Abacha dies at the presidential villa in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar became the new president and Chairman Provisional Ruling Council.
In May 1999, Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar steps down and the former military head of state Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo became the newly elected civilian president. Gen Obasanjo served two terms in office.
In May 2007, Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua was sworn in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the 13th head of state of Nigeria. Yar'Adua died on 5 May 2010 in the Presidential villa, in Abuja, Nigeria.
On May 6, 2010 Goodluck Ebere Jonathan, the Vice President during Yar’Adua regime became the Acting President. He later became the President after the death of Yar’adua, and afterwards Contested and won the 2011 Presidential elections.
2015, Goodluck Ebere Jonathan lost the election on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party PDP to All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari making it his second spell as Nigerian Leader (First as Military Head of State and now as President of Nigeria) after unsuccessful attempt to run for contesting for the office of President in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 general elections. And Finally emerged as the winner of 2015 General Election.
Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (2015-date) is the current president