The Presidential Studies Program is comprised of our flagship Presidential Oral History Project and the Presidential Recordings Program.

Presidential Oral History

Former presidents and those who worked with them have much to teach future generations about the Nigerian presidency that did not make the news and was not recorded in the documents sent to presidential libraries.

The Presidential Oral History Program is a public service endeavour initiated by the Foundation to provide such means and to preserve the true voices of past presidencies for posterity. We invite members of former presidential administrations to spend some time with scholars reviewing and reflecting on their experiences in office for the benefit of generations to come. These sessions are intended to capture for the permanent historical record a picture of each presidency seen through the eyes of those who knew it best and drawn in their own words after the constraints of incumbency are over.

Our interviews set out to examine the contemporary presidency from a diversity of perspectives: from those who worked inside the administration, from key associates outside the executive branch, and from select members of the National Assembly. Future practitioners as well as students of politics and policy at the presidential level should therefore find much of interest in these records. The transcripts provide an important complement – and corrective – to the picture of a presidency as it was seen by outside observers and the public during incumbency. They also serve as a valuable complement to the documentary record by providing personal testimony that illuminates the contexts in which the documents were written, the thoughts of those who wrote them, and the nature of their relationships with those who received them.

Currently, our Oral History scholars are assiduously engaged in collecting the oral history of the Presidential administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, interviewing scores of officials in each administration. The program plans to orally record the history of all succeeding presidential administrations. Carefully conducted oral history is a truly essential resource for capturing in first hand impressions what has transpired at the highest levels of government. In addition to presidential oral histories, the Foundation will in future commence the conduct of senatorial oral histories.

Presidential Recordings

The Presidential Recordings Program is a combination of historical research and annotated transcripts of Presidential Recordings which aims to make these remarkable historical sources more accessible to scholars, teachers, students, and the public. These recordings constitute an extremely rich historical resource, but one that cannot be unlocked without considerable time and experience in working with the tapes. Once unlocked, the tapes can, are, and will make significant contributions to our understanding of recent political history and how Nigerian government works. To that end, we bring together historians, journalists, and a talented team of student interns to work with these materials to transcribe, annotate, interpret, and share them.

Currently, the Foundation is focussed on collecting, transcribing and annotating the recordings of the Babangida presidency. The purpose of this project is to provide first-hand accounts of how the Babangida administration dealt with difficult and complex national issues. These tapes provide a stunning window into the humanity and dynamic tensions, as well as the day-in-and-day-out routine, of the Babangida presidency.