Sultan of Sokoto, Sir. Siddiq Abubakar III KBE, GCON: Three Decades After


By Abubakar Muhammad Musa (Saraki)

On Thursday, 1st of November, 2018 marks 30th years since the irreparable lost of a royalist per excellence, Sir Siddiq Abubakar III (1903–1988) who was a Nigerian Muslim leader. He served as the sultan of Sokoto between the year 1938 and 1988.

Siddiq Abubakar III Born in the year 1903 and Died in late 1988, aged 85 years.

He was born at Dange, on 15th March, 1903, same day on which the British finally subdued the Sokoto Caliphate Son of Usman Shehu, grandson of Mu’azu Dan Bello, direct descendent of Usman Dan Fodio. Sir Abubakar III is the fourth heir to the two century-old throne founded by his ancestor, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio (1754-1817)

Sir. Abubakar III had Islamic Education. He held several administrative posts before succeeding his uncle, Hassan Ibn Muazu, at age of 35 in the year 1938, he was appointed as a local authority councillor of the Sokoto Native Administration (Head of Talatan Mafara).

He distinguished himself by his administrative competence and the able way he dealt with appeals from traditional courts and supervised district and village heads. He held the title of Saurdauna of Sokoto until 17th June, 1938, when he became the 17th Sultan of the great Sokoto Caliphate.

As the 17th Sultan of Sokoto (Sarkin Musulmi), he became the most important Islamic personality at the south of the Sahara, and highly respected. He was the leader of 50 million adherents of the Islamic faith in West Africa.

Although he did not occupy a visible political position in Nigeria, his de facto political influence was considerable and throughout his life he worked towards the promotion of Nigeria’s unity, he used his decisive influence over public affairs for the political and social advancement of Nigeria as one nation.

He contributed a great deal to the maintenance of order and calm among the population of the then Northern Region after the 1966 coup in which Sir Ahmadu Bello was killed. During the Nigerian civil war he helped to mobilise men for the Federal forces.

Sir Abubakar III saw the development of his country in a different light from many of his more conservative co-religionists. He encouraged further education for females and voting for women in purdah, and urged the liberation of women in these respects. As a result, the Women Teacher’s Training College in Sokoto was founded.

His faith in and identification with the quest for knowledge led to his appointment as Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, which awarded him an honorary LLD degree.

During his life, however, Sir. Abubakar, in common with other traditional rulers, witnessed several inroads into his power base, such as loss of control over the local courts, prisons, and police. But because of his mature outlook he did not allow these developments to affect his concern for the welfare of his people.

He saw these changes as inevitable in the wider context of the country’s politics and in the overall interest of Nigeria’s development. When Northern People’s Congress was formed in 1951 and his support was needed to launch the new party and mobilise the Northern people for the independence movement, he readily gave it.

Sir. Abubakar III took the post of Minister without Portfolio in the Northern Regional Government in order to give the new administration headed by Sir Ahmadu Bello.

When party politics became divisive he stepped out of it to safeguard his role as the spiritual leader, but continued to be looked up to by other leaders on certain governmental issues.

He was knighted by the British in 1944 and after Nigeria attained independence was made Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON) by the Federal Government.

He had great love of poetry and as a traditionalist, kept the culture of his people alive while recognising the need to develop their potential and achieve progress in the modern world.

He ruled the Sultanate for one of the longest reigns in its history, from 17th June, 1938 to 1st November, 1988 when he died, having celebrated only four months earlier his fiftieth year in the throne.

Sultan Abubakar III was a father in-law to many prominent personalities that include, but not limited to late Kano Emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the incumbent Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji (Dr.) Shehu Idris and host of others.

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

Sultan of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar III’s predecessors on the throne including but not limited to;

– Abubakar Atiku I
– Abubakar Atiku II
– Muhammadu Attahiru I
– Muhammadu Attahiru II…
– Sarkin Musulmi Hassan Dan Mu’azu

And Sultan Sir. Abubakar III was succeeded by his nephew, Late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki from Buhari Dan Shehu ruling clan in November, 1988, as the 18th Sultan of Sokoto, until he was dethroned by the then Military Government of Late General Sani Abacha in 1996.
The incumbent Sultan of Sokoto, Brig. Gen. Dr. Muhammad Sa’ad is a biological son of late Sir. Abubakar III, he succeeded his elder brother, Late Maccido on 6th November, 2006.

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

Late Sultan Abubakar III answered the call of his creator and joined his ancestors on 1st November, 1988, nearly four months after he celebrated his golden jubilee (50th Anniversary).

May the souls of our departed ones rest in perfect peace.
Da fatan Allah shi kyauta makwanci, Allah shi jikan magabatanmu, Allah shi kyauta tamu bayan ta su, Amin.
Musa (Saraki) is a Public and Current Affairs Commentator, Political Analyst, Freelance Precision Journalist and Historian, held from the Nigeria’s City Center of Learning, Zaria.
He can be reached through or via Twitter @linguistmam


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