Siddiq Abubakar III

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Siddiq Abubakar III (1903-1988) was the 17th Sultan of Sokoto, he was on the throne for more than 50 years. Prior to becoming Sultan, he was head of the royal guard and Sardauna. He was chosen as Sultan by the colonial authorities over rival claimant Ahmadu Bello. As Sultan, he was considered the Sarkin Musulmi, and later became president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

In 1943, he had as his adviser, notable Sokoto Scholar, Muhammadu Junaidu. He was later a minister without Portfolio in the Northern regional government.

As Sultan and religious leader, he witnessed the diminishing role of his office but he also used his position to defend against colonial and missionary encroachments in Northern Nigeria by defending Shari'a courts and opposing convert Christian missionary activities in the North. He was also the official announcer of the sighting of the moon which heralded the ramadan festival and the two Ids festivals. However, he also took on the duty of fostering religious harmony and co-existence among Muslims and Christian in Sokoto.

Early life

Siddiq Abubakar was born to the family of Usuman dan Muazu, his uncle was Sultan Hassan who succeeded the deposed Sultan Tambari. His grandfather was Sultan Mu'azu. Abubakar was born around the time British forces occupied Sokoto and his mother had to carry him in a calabash when she fled from Sokoto to Dange. He later grew up in the house of his uncle, Hassan in Dange, when Hassan was then a district scribe. Hassan later became Sultan.

He was given a traditional Islamic education under Malama Umma and Mallam Umaru Tambari. In 1931, he became the Sardauna of Sokoto, one of the first acts of his uncle, Sultan Hassan. Like many princes in Northern Nigeria, he became responsible for the police and prisons department. He was trained by his uncle on how to deal with the Sarakuna (elites or rulers), that is to avoid confrontations and being drawn to acrimonious situation and the talakawa (people or ruled). In 1935, he was appointed a representative of the Sultan to Zamfara, a far away district.

In 1938, Hassan died unexpectedly, and the electoral committee had to choose a successor, among the candidates considered were Sarkin Gabas, Sarkin Gobir Isa, Sarkin Baura of Dange, Sardauna Abubakar, Sarkin Rabah Ahmadu, Ladan, village head of Giyawa. Further reductions led to two major candidates, Sarkin Rabah Ahmadu Bello and Sardauna Abubakar. In early June, the elector chose Sardauna Abubakar as the new Sultan.


As Sultan, one of the first major decisions was to make his rival Sardauna and see to the transfer his rival, Ahmadu Bello to Gusau, a sub division of the Sokoto Native Authority. However, Bello later became known as an able administrator. Another event concerning the two happened in 1943, when Bello was charged of withholding the jangali or cattle tax of herders in Gusau, he was convicted of the charge in the Sultan's council but on appeal the conviction was reversed. The sequence follows a path were chosen successors try to limit the powers of their rivals. However, Bello proved to be a formidable worker and administrator and garnered a growing following of young reformers in the native administration.

During World War II, Abubakar rallied around many Northern Nigerians to support British war effort in Burma. He was also known as a leader who went on tours, commissioned projects and gave people the freedom to share their views with him. He was considered a man who gave visitors relative ease to have an audience with him, some bringing complaints to him and was said to be enthusiastic about the launching of Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, the title is said to have been recommended by the Sultan.

Abubakar was an unofficial member of the Northern House of chiefs at a time the region and the nation was moving towards independence, the issue of Nigerianization was being discussed and the establishment of provincial development councils.

During the constitutional revisions of the late 1940s and early 1950s, some emirs in Northern Nigeria, led by Ja'afaru, Emir of Zaria fearing southern domination rallied around the traditional power of Sokoto under the Sultan as leader.

Personal life

Abubakar's first wife was Huawa Garka, she first bore him two children who died at infancy. Then came Muhammadu Maccido, Hadiza, Ciroma Bello and Aisha. Some other members of his family includes, Aliyu Maisango, Sada Abubakar III, Buhari Abubakar III and Ahmed Rufai Abubakar. He had six wives and about 54 children altogether.