How many Nigerian traditional rulers do you know? Keep reading to find out about the Top 20 Traditional Rulers in Nigeria.
Before colonisation and democracy, Nigerians had a traditional leadership system that worked for them. Over 200 ethnic groups employed varying leadership styles but they all had something in common: a community head or King. Follow us as we explore some of the current Nigerian monarchs.
Alaafin of Oyo
Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, born on October 15, 1938, has been the Alaafin of Oyo since his coronation on November 19, 1970. Succeeding Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II, he ascended the throne after the Nigerian Civil War. Beyond his royal role, he served as the chancellor of Usmanu Danfodiyo University from 1980 to 1992. In 1975, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed included him in his hajj entourage, and in 1990, President Ibrahim Babangida appointed him Amir-ul-Hajj.
Obi of Onitsha
Nnayelugo Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, born on May 14, 1941, is the reigning Obi of Onitsha in Anambra State. Belonging to the Chimedie lineage, he ascended to the throne on June 3, 2002. A distinguished figure, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Stanford University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Columbia University. lgwe Achebe’s impressive career spanned over 30 years at the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.
Sultan of Sokoto
Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, born on August 24, 1956, is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto, Nigeria. He assumed the throne on November 2, 2006, succeeding his brother. As the spiritual leader of approximately 70 million Muslims, he heads the Jama’atu Nasril Islam and presides over the Nigerian National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Sultan Abubakar is the fifth heir to the two-century-old throne established by his ancestor, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio.
A graduate of Barewa College and the Nigerian Defence Academy, he served as a Second Lieutenant in the Armoured Corps. As the leader of the Qadiriyya Sufi order, he holds a significant role in Nigeria’s Islamic leadership, surpassing the Emir of Kano.
Ooni of Ife
The Ooni of Ife, HRM Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, hails from the Giesi Ruling House, Ojaja Royal Compound in Ile-Ife. Born Adeyeye Babatunde Enitan to Prince Ropo and Late Mrs. Margret Wuraola Ogunwusi, he emerged as the 51st Ooni of Ife on December 7, 2015. Ooni Ogunwusi is the 5th direct descendant of the Giesi Ruling Family and the 44th Ooni, Ayikitininu Aran, was his great-great-grandfather. His lineage includes notable figures like Adegosan Adewole Ogunwusi, a revered war veteran. Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi continues the legacy of leadership from his distinguished ancestry.
Dein of Agbor
The Dein of Agbor, HRM Benjamin Ikechukwu Kiagborekuzi I, has a remarkable history. Born in 1977, he became the monarch at just two years and four months, making him the world’s youngest crowned king. Educated in England, he returned in 2000 to fully assume his role after a regent ruled in his absence.
In 2006, he became the youngest monarch-appointed Chancellor of a Federal University. As the Grand Master Protector of the Royal & Dynastic Order of the Dein of Agbor, he bestows honours on individuals contributing to the Agbor Kingdom’s development. Agbor is situated in Delta State, Nigeria.
Emir of Kano
Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi succeeded his granduncle as the 14th Emir of Kano on June 8, 2014. The appointment sparked controversy, with some viewing it as a political move to evade fraud charges from his time as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor. Despite protests, he was crowned Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II on June 9, 2014. As a leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order, he faced threats from Boko Haram after urging followers to combat the group. The Kano Mosque bombing in November 2014 claimed 150 lives, and Sanusi responded defiantly, emphasizing his safety with Allah.
Oba of Lagos
HRH Oba Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Aremu Akiolu I hails from the Ologun Kutere lineage. Coronated on 09-08-2003, he resides in the historic Iga Idunganran Palace, Lagos State.
Olu of Warri
Ogiame Atuwatse III, born Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko on April 2, 1984, is the 21st Olu of Warri, Delta state, Nigeria. He ascended to the throne on August 21, 2021, succeeding Ogiame Ikenwoli I. He earned a BA in International Studies and Political Science from Case Western Reserve University, followed by an MS in Management. Returning to Nigeria in 2008, he served in the NYSC and worked at SNCFPA and Sahara Energy. A serial entrepreneur, he founded Noble Nigeria and Coral Curator and holds leadership roles in Ocean Marine Security, Gulf of Guinea, and Vessellink Nig.
Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, born on September 12, 1952, in Bida, holds the esteemed position of Etsu Nupe, crowned on September 11, 2003. In pursuit of a military career, he joined the Nigeria Defence Academy in 1973, graduating in 1975 with the NDACE.
Formerly a Colonel in the Nigerian Army, Alh. Yahaya Abubakar reached the rank of Brigadier General upon retirement. His commitment was acknowledged with the National Honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) on December 16, 2004. Today, he resides in the grand Etsu Nupe Palace, Niger State.
Oba of Benin
Oba Ewuare II, born on October 20, 1953, ascended to the throne as the 40th Oba of Benin on October 20, 2016, succeeding Eheneden Erediauwa. The title of Oba was established between 1180 and 1300 for the Head of State (Emperor) of the Benin Empire. Ewuare II, formerly known as Eheneden Erediauwa, earned a degree in Economics from the University of Wales, UK, and holds a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University Graduate School, New Jersey, USA. The choice of his name pays homage to the 15th-century Ewuare I. The Oba’s coronation marked a significant event in the rich cultural history of Edo State.
Amanyanabo of Okpoama
Ebitimi Emmanuel Banigo Okpo XXI O.F.R., Amanyanabo Okpoama, was crowned on 27-10-2010 in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. He hails from the Okpo lineage.
Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu Jumba, known as Lamido Bauchi, assumed leadership in July 2010. Hailing from the distinguished Adamu Jumba lineage, he plays a vital role in the cultural heritage of Bauchi State. He obtained a National Certificate of Education (NCE) from Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic and a BSC in building technology from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University between 1991 and 2001.
Alake of Egbaland
Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III, the Alake of Egbaland, ascended to the throne on August 24, 2005. Belonging to the Gbadebo lineage, he is the grandson of Oba Gbadebo, the sixth Alake of Egbaland. Born on September 14, 1943, his birth coincided with the Centenary Celebration of Christianity in Egbaland. Alake Gbadebo III is one of the six children of Omoba Adesanya Osolake Gbadebo and Madam Amoke Gbadebo. The Alake’s palace, aptly named Alake’s Palace, serves as the seat of his reign in Ogun State. His familial ties and historical background connect him deeply to the cultural legacy of Egbaland.
Obong of Calabar
Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, born on November 20, 1949, hails from the Adiabo clan of the Eburutu tribe in Cross River State, Nigeria. Initiated into the Ekpe Efik Iboku confraternity on his birth, he holds a diploma in Telecommunications Engineering and excelled in his early career at the Post and Telecommunications department.
His recognition by the Cross River State Government and coronation on May 3, 2008, marked the beginning of his reign as the 78th recognized Monarch of the Efik Eburutu people.
Edidem of Akwa Akpa
Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, known as the Edidem of Akwa Akpa, assumed his role on April 6, 2008, in Calabar, Nigeria. Born in November 1949, he is the son of Etubom Dr EE Bassey and the grandson of King James Ekpo Bassey of Cobham Town. In 1974, Bassey graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with a degree in journalism. Notably, he served as a kingmaker in the Efik Kingdom. In a controversial event on August 31, 1991, Bassey crowned Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw VI as the Obong of Calabar, showcasing his influence in regional leadership.
Ataoja of Osogbo
The esteemed Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi III, ascended to the throne on 27-07-1976, representing the Matanmi ruling house in Osun State. Born to Pa Shittu Amoo and Madam Sabitiyu Ajile Oyewale, he holds a significant position as the paramount leader in Osogbo land. Ataoja’s Royal Palace serves as the hub of his reign.
Ovie of Uvwie
Dr. Emmanuel Ekemejewan Sideso Abe I, known as the Ovie of Uvwie, assumed the throne on 27-02-2008, representing the Abe I lineage in Delta State. The royal palace, located in Effurun, served as the centre of his reign.
Oba of Ogbomoso
The Soun of Ogbomosoland, Oba Jimoh Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, born on May 27, 1926, hails from the Ajagungbade lineage. Coronated on 24-10-1973, he resides in the Aafin Ogbomoso palace in Oyo State. His father, Oba Bello Oyewumi, had 63 children from several wives. Oba Jimoh holds the titles JP and CON, contributing to his distinguished profile.
Attah of Igala
Matthew Alaji Opaluwa Oguche Akpa II assumed office as the 28th Àtá Ígálá (paramount ruler) of the Igala Kingdom, Kogi State on October 18, 2021. His coronation took place on March 4, 2022, succeeding Attah Michael Ameh Oboni II.
HRM Chief Samson Gamu Yare II, born on 8th July 1963 in Mubi, emerged as the paramount ruler of Mada on 31st July 2013. Following the passing of his father, the Late Mr Gamu Yare, on the throne in 2011, he assumed the title Chun Mada II. Hailing from Ngwampeh village, Ningo/Bohar district of Akwanga LGA, Nasarawa State, he has upheld the Gamu Yare lineage.
How many traditional rulers did you recognise? Let us know in the comments section.