Nigeria: One in Five Nigerian State Governors Attended This University

Half of the 36 state governors obtained their first degrees at one of three universities in the country.

Half of the 36 state governors obtained their first degrees at one of three universities in the country.

Northern Nigeria's premier university, Ahmadu Bello University, located in Zaria, Kaduna State, produced more members of the current set of Nigerian state governors than any other tertiary institution in the country, a PREMIUM TIMES review of official documents shows.

An extensive review of their official resumes also shows that half of the 36 state governors obtained their first degrees from three universities in the country while only two of the governors got theirs abroad.

Most-attended universities


Seven of the governors got their first degrees or a master's from ABU, named after the only premier of the defunct Northern Region whose administration established the university in the First Republic.

The alumni governors of the university include Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Darius Ishaku of Taraba State and Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

Five of the seven governors obtained a bachelor's degree in accountancy from the university. But Messrs El-Rufai and Ishaku obtained their bachelor's and master's degrees from the university. Mr Ishaku took two master's degrees in architecture and urban and regional planning, while Mr El-Rufai received a master's in business administration in 1984.

Mr Bello, who started his tertiary education at Kaduna State Polytechnic, obtained a Master's in Business Administration from ABU in 2002.

The 58 year-old institution, formerly named the University of Northern Nigeria, covers a land area of 7,000 hectares and encompasses 106 departments, making it one of the largest universities in sub-Saharan Africa.

PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported that about one-third of Nigeria's current ministers also attended ABU.


The University of Lagos (UNILAG), which calls itself Nigeria's "first choice university," is the second most attended university among the governors.

This newspaper had also reported that UNILAG produced the second highest number of the nation's current ministers. This means that ABU and UNILAG have the highest number of alumni among incumbent ministers and governors.

Six of the serving governors obtained their first degrees from UNILAG. Two of the state executives returned for their master's degree in the university.

The alumni include Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.


The University of Maiduguri produced five of the current state governors who at least obtained a bachelor's degree from the university.

While the governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, enrolled in the school for postgraduate studies, four of his counterparts had their first degrees at the university.

Abia State Governor Chikezie Ikpeazu and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State had their bachelor's and master's degrees from UNIMAID.

UI and others

Closely following the three is the University of Ibadan which has four alumni among the governors.

Obafemi Awolowo University graduated three governors while the University of Jos and Usmanu Danfodiyo University each graduated two of the governors.

The University of Nigeria, the University of Port Harcourt, Bayero University Kano, Enugu State University, Benue State University, Rivers State University and Federal University of Technology, Owerri, each has one governor on their roll of alumni.

Foreign trained

While 10 of the governors bagged various degrees from foreign institutions, only the governor of Yobe State, Mai-Mala Buni, and his counterpart in Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, had their formative higher educational degrees from institutions outside Nigeria.

After taking first and second degrees in Nigeria, Mr El-Rufai received a bachelor of law degree from the University of London in 2008. He later bagged a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. The governor of Lagos state also earned a similar degree from the same university.

Mr Fayemi completed his bachelor's and master's degree in Nigeria before undergoing a doctorate programme in War Studies from King's College, London, specialising in civil-military relations.

Likewise, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, took a degree from Columbia University and Pace University in New York.

The governors of Imo and Ogun also respectively earned their master's degrees at Washington University and Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

Mr Buni and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, had master's degrees in Leeds Beckett University and Commonwealth University Belize in the United Kingdom, in that order.

Other institutions

Mr Zulum, a professor, began his academic sojourn at Ramat Polytechnic in Borno State and later attended the University of Ibadan where he obtained a master's degree in agricultural engineering.

The governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, attended the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, Badagry, in Lagos while the governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, had his first degree from the Plateau State Polytechnic and later proceeded to Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA.

Meanwhile, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, got his first qualification at Yaba College of Technology before he proceeded to Thames Valley University in the UK for a second degree.

Viable alternatives for funding

Despite training many members of the Nigerian political class, public institutions in the country still have multifaceted problems, with arguably the most serious being poor funding. The gross under funding could be linked to undue reliance on the government for funds which has resulted in inadequacy of infrastructure and facilities for teaching and research.

This year, budgetary allocation by the federal government to education is the lowest in 10 years, when measured as a percentage of the total spending plan. This means the federal government will again fall below the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommendation.

The global body proposed that 15 per cent to 20 per cent of annual budgets be earmarked for education to enable nations cater for their rising education demands.

Some of the alternative strategies for improving Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of universities in Nigeria include: establishment of entrepreneurship training centres in the universities, alumni contributions, partnership programmes and collaboration with other institutions.

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