The man Shehu Shagari was born in the northern Shagari village founded by his great-grandfather, Ahmadu Rufa’i, who was also the Village Head and took the name Shagari as his family name.
With his great wealth of experience in service, Shagari served seven times in a ministerial or cabinet post as a federal minister and as federal commissioner from 1958–1975.
In 1954 Shagari was elected into his first public office as a member of the federal House of Representative for Sokoto west. In 1958, Shagari was appointed as parliamentary secretary (he left the post in 1959) to the Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and that year he also served as the Federal Minister for Commerce and Industries.
From 1959-1960, Shagari was redeployed to the ministry for economic development, as the Federal Minister for Economic Development.
In 1960-1962, he was moved to the Pensions ministry as the Federal Minister for Pensions. From 1962-1965, Shagari was made the Federal minister for internal affairs. From 1965 up until the first military coup in January 1966, Shagari was the Federal Minister for works.
In 1967 he was appointed as the secretary for Sokoto province education development fund. From 1968-1969, Shagari was given a state position in the North Western State as commissioner for establishments.
After the Nigerian civil war, from 1970-1971, Shagari was appointed by the military head of state General Yakubu Gowon as the federal commissioner for economic development, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
From 1971-75 he served as the Federal commissioner (a position now called minister) of finance. During his tenure as the commissioner of finance for Nigeria, Shagari was also a governor for the World Bank and a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committee of twenty.