Muhammadu Buhari (born 17 December 1942) is the President-elect of Nigeria and a retired Major General in the Nigerian Army who was Head of State of Nigeria from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état.
The term Buharism is ascribed to the Buhari military government.
He ran unsuccessfully for the office of President in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. In December 2014, he emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the March 2015 elections.
Buhari won the 2015 general election, defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari is a native of Daura in Katsina State; he is of Fulani ethnic background.
Buhari has stated that he takes responsibility for whatever happened under his watch during his military rule, saying that he cannot change the past. He also describes himself as a “converted democrat”.
He narrowly escaped an assassination attempt
Mr Buhari has always been popular among the people of the North who largely speak Hausa language.
Now some feel his military background and his disciplinarian credentials are just what the whole country needs at this point in time.
A Muslim from Daura in Katsina State, who has given his support to Sharia in the north, Mr Buhari has previously had to deny allegations that he has a radical Islamist agenda.
This proved a problem for him in the 2003 polls – he failed to secure much support among Christians in the south, where he was viewed with some suspicion.
But having escaped an attack on his convoy in Kaduna in July 2014, which bore all the hallmarks of a Boko Haram assassination attempt, he has promised to end the insurgency within months if elected.
A tough disciplinarian
He ruled Nigeria from January 1984 until August 1985, taking charge after a military coup in December 1983.
It is a period remembered for a strict campaign against indiscipline and corruption, and for its human rights abuses.
The verdict on Mr Buhari’s 20 months as military ruler is mixed.
About 500 politicians, officials and businessmen were jailed as part of a campaign against waste and corruption.
Some saw this as the heavy-handed repression of military rule.
But others remember it as a praiseworthy attempt to fight the endemic graft that prevented Nigeria’s development.
He retains a rare reputation for honesty among Nigeria’s politicians, both military and civilian, largely because of this campaign.
As part of his “War Against Indiscipline”, he ordered Nigerians to form neat queues at bus stops, under the sharp eyes of whip-wielding soldiers.
Civil servants who were late for work were publicly humiliated by being forced to do frog jumps.
He also introduced a notorious decree to restrict press freedom, under which two journalists were jailed.
However, his attempts to re-balance public finances by curbing imports led to many job losses and the closure of businesses.
As part of anti-corruption measures, he also ordered that the currency be replaced – the colour of the naira notes were changed – forcing all holders of old notes to exchange them at banks within a limited period.
Prices rose while living standards fell, leading to a palace coup by Gen Ibrahim Babangida on 27 August 1985. Mr Buhari was imprisoned for 40 months.
Mr Babangida wanted to speed up the restoration of civilian rule, which Mr Buhari did not see as a priority.
Mr Buhari has continued to defend his coup of 31 December 1983.
“It is up to the people. If you choose correct leadership, there won’t be any need for the military regime.
“The military came in when it was absolutely necessary and the elected people had failed the country,” he said in October 2005.
When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was a military ruler in the 1970s, Mr Buhari held the key post of minister of petroleum affairs.
But the relationship between the former colleagues cooled as Mr Buhari’s coup ousted a civilian government, led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who won elections organised by Mr Obasanjo.
This led to continuing questions about Mr Buhari’s commitment to democracy.