Siddiq Abubakar III

Sir Siddiq Abubakar III, KBE (1903–1988) was a Nigerian Muslim leader (Sarkin Musulmi). He served as the 17th Sultan of Sokoto between 17 June 1938 and 1 November 1988, making him the longest-reigning Sultan.[1][2]

Siddiq Abubakar III GCON, KBE
Sultan of Sokoto
Reign17 June 1938 - 1 November 1988
PredecessorHassan Dan Mu’azu Ahmad as Sultan of Sokoto
SuccessorIbrahim Dasuki as Sultan of Sokoto
Born15 March 1903 (1903-03-15)
Died1988 (aged 84–85)
FatherUsman Shehu
ReligionSunni Islam

The Sokoto Caliphate leaders are partly Arabs and partly Fulani as stated by Abdullahi dan Fodio, brother of Usman dan Fodio who claimed that their family are part Fulani, and part Arabs, they claimed to descent from the Arabs through Uqba ibn Nafi who was an Arab Muslim of the Umayyad branch of the Quraysh, and hence, a member of the family of the Prophet, Uqba ibn Nafi allegedly married a Fulani woman called Bajjumangbu through which the Torodbe family of Usman dan Fodio descended.[3] Caliph Muhammed Bello writing in his book Infaq al-Mansur claimed descent from Prophet Muhammad through his paternal grandmother's lineage called Hawwa (mother of Usman dan Fodio), Alhaji Muhammadu Junaidu, Wazirin Sokoto, a scholar of Fulani history, restated the claims of Shaykh Abdullahi bin Fodio in respect of the Danfodio family been part Arabs and part Fulani, while Ahmadu Bello in his autobiography written after independence replicated Caliph's Muhammadu Bello claim of descent from the Arabs through Usman Danfodio's mother, the historical account indicates that the family of Shehu dan Fodio are partly Arabs and partly Fulani who culturally assimilated with the Hausas and can be described as Hausa-Fulani Arabs. Prior to the beginning of the 1804 Jihad the category Fulani was not important for the Torankawa (Torodbe), their literature reveals the ambivalence they had defining Torodbe-Fulani relationships. They adopted the language of the Fulbe and much ethos while maintaining a separate identity.[4] The Toronkawa clan at first recruited members from all levels of Sūdānī society, particularly the poorer people.[5] Toronkawa clerics included people whose origin was Fula, Wolof, Mande, Hausa and Berber. However, they spoke the Fula language, married into Fulbe families, and became the Fulbe scholarly caste.[6]

Life and careerEdit

Siddiq Abubakar III was born in Dange on 15 March 1903.[citation needed]

Dan Mu’azu, a son of Usman Shehu, was a grandson of Mu'azu and, through him, a direct descendant of Usman Dan Fodio. Abubakar was the fourth-generation heir to a two-century-old throne founded by his ancestor, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio (1754–1817) leader of the Maliki school of Islam and the Qadiri branch of Sunni.[7]

Abubakar had an Islamic education.[8] and served as a district scribe in Dange between 1929 and 1931. In February 1931 Abubakar succeeded his uncle, Hassan Ibn Muazu, as the local authority councillor (Head of Talata Mafara) of the Sokoto Native Authority. He rapidly distinguished himself through administrative competence, skilled management of appeals from traditional courts, and his effective supervision of district and village heads, and as a result served until 1938. As councillor he worked from Sokoto, taking part in the decision-making process of the Sokoto Native Authority and supervising the prisons and police departments. His profile rose in Sokoto as his position made him accessible to the people, but it also led to tensions with Sultan Hasan dan Mu’azu Ahmadu. When Abubakar contested the throne with other princes, such as Ahmadu Rabbah and Ahmadu Isa of Gobir, the favourable impressions that Sokoto residents had towards him contributed to making his ascension possible. The British were also interested in appointing a leader who had the trust of the people within the political structure of Indirect rule, so they suggested the name of Abubakar to the kingmakers. On 17 June 1938, he was crowned as the 17th Sultan (Sarkin Musulmi) of the Sokoto Caliphate.[citation needed]

Abubakar was made Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1944, and after Nigeria attained independence in 1960, was made Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger by the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1963.[citation needed]

Sir Abubakar was appointed to the post of Minister Without Portfolio for the Northern Regional Government in 1951, providing moral support for the new administration of regional premier Sir Ahmadu Bello and assistance with mobilizing the Northern people for the independence movement. He then continued to play a significant role reducing tensions in the region after the coup and assassination of Premier Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, on 15 January 1966.[citation needed]

On 18 July 1974, President Moktar Ould Daddah, who was on a state visit to Nigeria, paid a visit to Sultan Abubakar, a fellow Islamic scholar, and friend in the company of General Yakubu Gowon.[9]

In 1984, when another Sokoto son, Shehu Shagari, was removed from power, Abubakar preached peace within the emirate council and in its relationship with the new administration. His court focused on the welfare and problems of his community, carrying on a cultural tradition espoused by Usman Dan Fodio.


He left behind 52 children, including Ibrahim Muhammadu Maccido dan Abubakar, who succeeded Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki in 1996 to become the 19th Sultan of Sokoto and died on 29 October 2006, as the eldest, and Isah Saddiq Abubakar III as the youngest with more than 320 direct grandchildren.

Sultan Abubakar III is best remembered by his compatriots as a religious leader who rose above the religious dissensions of his day. Throughout his life, he played the role of peace-maker and father of all.


  1. ^ Echiejile, Larry; Tsafe, Aliyu Adamu (12 June 1988). "The Sokoto Sultanate: 50 Years of Abubakar III Reign". Sunday Concord (Lagos).
  2. ^ Yakubu, Alhaji M. (March 1990). "Sir Siddiq Abubakar III, 17th Sultan of Sokoto by Shehu Malami London and Ibadan, Evans Brothers, 1989. Pp. xxi + 224. £15.00. £8.50 paperback". The Journal of Modern African Studies. 28 (1): 157–158. doi:10.1017/S0022278X00054306. ISSN 1469-7777.
  3. ^ Abubakar, Aliyu (2005). The Torankawa Danfodio Family. Kano,Nigeria: Fero Publishers.
  4. ^ Ibrahim, Muhammad (1987). The Hausa-Fulani Arabs: A Case Study of the Genealogy of Usman Danfodio. Kadawa Press.
  5. ^ Willis, John Ralph (April 1978). "The Torodbe Clerisy: A Social View". The Journal of African History. Cambridge University Press. 19 (2): 195. doi:10.1017/s0021853700027596. JSTOR 181598. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  6. ^ Ajayi, Jacob F. Ade (1989). Africa in the Nineteenth Century Until the 1880s. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03917-9. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  7. ^ The Muslim 500: "Amirul Mu’minin Sheikh as Sultan Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III" retrieved 15 May 2014
  8. ^ Malami, Shehu (1989). Sir Siddiq Abubakar III, 17th Sultan of Sokoto. Ibadan : Evans Brothers. OCLC 19355104. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  9. ^ "General Gowon Accompanies Ould Daddah to meet the Sultan of Sokoto Siddiq Abubakar III". Youtube. Adeyinka Makinde. Retrieved 5 September 2020.