Top 13 Longest Serving Emirs in Northern Nigeria

Written by Abdullahi Malumfashi

Abdullahi Malumfashi is a writer, editor and translator. When he is not busy working on an article, he is probably laying somewhere reading one of the many unfinished books he started. He also loves sleeping.

October 5, 2021

Northern Nigeria has many Emirs, some of who have been on the throne for a long. Emirs are an important link to the people, a great source of preservation of the history and culture of the people as well as play their roles in peacebuilding, peace and serving as mediators in conflict. In this list, we will be looking at the top 15 longest-serving Emirs in Northern Nigeria.

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Longest Serving Emirs and Chiefs from Northern Nigeria

13. The Late Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Muhammadu Mera

The late Emir of Argungu Alhaji Muhammadu Mera, is one of the longest-serving monarchs from northern Nigeria, having spent 37 years on the throne.

Born in 1932, Emir Muhammadu Mera was the 32nd Emir of Argungu. Mera studied in Middle School, Kaduna College as well as the Katsina Teacher Training College. He was later awarded a scholarship by the defunct northern Nigerian Government to study in the UK.

Upon his return, he became a councillor of Education in the Regional Government. He was appointed the District Head of Argungu in 1955. In 1959, upon the death of the Emir, he was appointed the 32nd Emir of Arugungu, the throne of his ancestors.

He died in 1996 and was succeeded by his son, Emir, Alhaji Samaila Muhammadu Mera.

12. Sarkin Katagum Alhaji Umar Muhammadu Kabir Umar (Baba Umar Faruk), The 12th Emir of Katagum

The late Emir of Katagum, Alhaji Umar Muhammadu Kabir was one of the longest serving Emirs in northern Nigeria having served for 37 years. He is also one of the most loved.

He attended Bauchi Middle School in 1948 and later studied Local Government Administration in 1950. The late Emir was also the Head of the Bauchi State Development Board as well as the Chairman Board of the Governing Council of College of Islamic and Legal Studies, Misau between 1986 to 2001.

The late Emir was appointed in 1980, upon the demise of his father and the recommendation of the Council of Kingmakers. During his reign, he used his wealth of experience and connections to bring development to his Emirate.

He died in December 2017 aged 89.

11. Emir of Daura Muhammadu Bashar of Daura

Muhammadu Bashar, the 59th Emir of Daura was one of the few who lasted long on the throne. 

He was born in 1926 to the ruling house of Daura being the grandson of the Emir of Daura Malam Abdulrahman. The late Muhammadu Bashar attended Katsina Middle School, Barewa College, Kano School for Arabic Studies as well as the Institute of Administration Zaria. He later attended the South Devon Technical College in the United Kingdom.

Muhammadu Bashar first started as a scribe in Daura, before gaining promotion to Assistant Chief Scribe in 1950. He later got elected as a member of the Northern House of Assembly in 1951. He became the Wamban Daura as well as appointed as a Minister of Economic Planning in the short-lived First Republic.

Muhammadu Bashar was appointed the Emir of Daura in 1966, one of the most respected traditional intuitions in the country.

He reigned for 41 years, and died in 2007.

10. The Late Emir of Lafia, Isa Mustapha Agwai I

The late Emir of Lafia was born on the 15th of February, 1935 In Kofar Kaura in Lafia. He attended the Institute of Administration of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1958 where he obtained a Diploma in Accountancy.

After that, he joined the service of the Lafia Native Authority as an assistant treasurer. He later held the title of Dangaladima and the district head of Obi.

Agwai was named the Emir of Lafia on 15th May 1974, having defeated numerous other contestants. He served for 43 years making him one of the longest serving Emirs in Northern Nigeria.

He died in 2019 aged 84 after spending 44 years on the throne, making him one of the longest reigning Emirs in Northern Nigeria

9. Emir of Zaria, Shehu Idris

The late Shehu Idris was one of the most respected traditional leaders as well as one of the longest serving Emirs in northern Nigeria. Before he was appointed the Emir, he was a Private Secretary to the former Emir, Muhammadu Aminu. He was also the Dan Madamin Zazzau.

The late Emir was appointed in 1975 and went on to spend 45 years on the throne. Under his reign, his Emirate witnessed significant development and got transformed into an urban area.

Shehu Idris died on 20 September 2020, aged 84.

8. Emir of Kontagora, Saidu Namaska

The late Sarkin Sudan, Alhaji Sai’du was a descendant of the legendary Shehu Usman Danfodio as well as Nagwamatse, the founder of the Kontagora Kingdom. He was born in 1937.

The deceased worked with the Nigeria Police Force in 1961, as well as with the State Judicial Services. He was appointed to the throne of his ancestors in 1974 and reined for 47 years before his demise in 2021.

He was the longest serving Emir in northern Nigeria before his death.

The late Emir of Kontagora died aged 84.

7. Sultan Sadiq Abubakar III

Sir Siddiq Abubakar III, was the important Sultan of Sokoto between 1938-1988. The Sultan was a descendant of Usman Dan Fodio, through his grandfather Mu’azu. He was appointed by the British because of his trust and support of the public. He so far proved them right.

Sir Saddiq Abubakar III died in 1988 aged ’80s having been on the throne for 50 years. He left behind 52 children, three of which became Sultans themselves.

6. Emir of Kagara, Alhaji Salihu Tanko 51

Another Emir from Niger state, the late Salihu Tanko was one of the longest serving Emirs from northern Nigeria. He was first appointed a District Head of Tegina in 1971 before he was upgraded to a second class chief of Kagara in 1982. He was later elevated to a first-class Emir in 1991.

The late Emir was born on 5th April 1930. He ruled for 50 years until he died in 2021 aged 90.

He has been described as a ‘symbol of humility and patience’

5. Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero 52

The legendary Ado Bayero is synonymous with the title of Emir of Kano, having to be on the throne for 52 years. He was the son of the Emir of Kano Abdullahi Bayero.

Having attended the Kano Middle School as well as the School of Arabic Studies in 1947, he joined the Native Authority. He became in charge of the Police Force, the popular “Wakilin Dan Doka.” He was also briefly the Nigerian Ambassador to Senegal during the First Republic.

Ado Bayero was appointed upon the death of Muhammadu Inuwa. His time as Emir of Kano coincided with the rapid changes in the country as well as in the region. He also witnessed many reforms to the Emir’s Council. Ado Bayero survived an assassination attempt in 2013.

He died in 2014 aged 83 and was one of the most respected Emirs in Northern Nigeria.

4. Emir of Daura Abdulrahman, 55 Years

One of the oldest and longest serving Emirs in northern Nigeria, Abdulrahman was the Emir of Daura Abdulrahman between 1912 to 1966.

He spend 55 years on the throne and was succeeded by his grandson Bashar.

3. Attah of Igala Aliyu Obaje, CFR

The late Attah of Igala in present-day Kogi state was not only one of the longest serving Emirs in northern Nigeria but in the whole country as well.

Born in 1920, Obaje was the 26th Attah of Igala. At the time of his appointment in 1956, he was the youngest person to be named the Attah. He went on to rule for 56 years, before his death at the age of 102.

Until his death, he was a First Class Chief, the paramount ruler of Igala as well as the Chairman of Kogi State Traditional Council and one of the most respected monarchs in the country.

2. Lamido of Adamawa Aliyu Mustapha Barkindo

The late Lamido of Adamawa Dr Aliyu Musdafa was the 11th Lamido, appointed by the Governor of Northern Nigeria Sir Bryan Sherwood in 1953. He was a direct descendant of Modibo Adama, the founder of the emirate. 

Barkindo ruled for 57 years until he died in 2010. He was responsible for many developments in the Emirate, among which include the increase in the number of district heads, the founding of the Aliyu Mustafa College Yola and many more.

He was one of the most respected and longest serving Emirs from northern Nigeria. The late Lamido was survived by his son Muhammad Barkindo Aliyu Mustafa.

1. Chief of Kagoro Gwamna Awan

The late Chief of Kagoro was not only the longest serving emir in northern Nigeria, but the longest serving monarch in Africa as well, having reigned for 63 years. He reigned between 1945 – 2008.

Born in 1915, Gwamna Awan attended Elementary School in Toro and worked at the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) Elementary School in Kagoro. He later joined the Native Authority and became an Assistant Scribe.

Upon the death of the then Chief, Gwamna Awan was appointed in 1944 and became the only Christian monarch in the whole southern part of Zaria.

He died in the early hours of 1st October 2008.

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