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Nigerians in History- Sultan Muhammadu Maccido

Ibrahim Muhammadu Maccido dan Abubakar (often shortened to Muhammadu Maccido), was the 19th Sultan of Sokoto in Nigeria. He was the son and primary aide to Siddiq Abubakar III (1903–1988) who had been the Sultan of Sokoto for 50 years. He was born on the 20th April 1928.

Early life

Muhammadu Maccido was one of the few children born to Sultan Siddiq Abubakar III before Abubakar became the Sultan of Sokoto in 1938. He was born on 20th April 1928 on the outskirts of the city of Sokoto in the town of Dange Shuni. Many other children had died in childbirth and so when Muhammadu was born to Abubakar’s senior wife Hauwa, he was given the additional name Maccido (meaning slave) to try and ward off bad luck. Although Abubakar only had two children before he became Sultan, he preceded to have 53 additional children after. Maccido was educated at the College in Zaria before studying in 1952-1953 at South Devon College in Great Britain.


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Life and Times as a Politician

In the last decade of British rule over the territory, Maccido became active in various political roles. In 1951, Maccido became a member of the House of Assembly in Kaduna ruling the Sokoto Native Authority. Although very young and a junior member of the Assembly, he was able to create connections with many early Nigerian leaders because he was the son of the sultan. In the late 1950s, Zamfara and other communities in the north began to experience violent disorder with political parties struggling against each other before the 1959 elections. Maccido was dispatched to the communities to serve as the representative for the Sokoto Emirate in trying to reduce the tension. He held various posts in the Sokoto Native Authority in the 1950s including Councilor of Works (1956), Councilor for Rural Development (1959), and Councilor for Agriculture (1960).

With the post-independence violence in Nigeria, which heightened significantly following the assassination of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (from Sokoto) in 1966, Maccido played a key role helping his father in trying to ease the violence. In Sokoto, a crowd of angry Muslims advanced toward the Catholic Church aiming to destroy the building as part of general anger towards the Igbo people and Christians. Maccido and Marafa, a brother-in-law, met the crowd and convinced them to disperse preventing destruction of the church.

The following year, Maccido was made a North Western State Executive Council Commissioner and worked in the Ministry of Agriculture and then later the Ministry of Health. Although he kept his distance from the military governments in the 1970s, he served as the presidential liaison officer between the Sokoto Emirate and the Nigerian head of state for many years during the Presidency of Shehu Shagari.

In 1986, Maccido left politics around the country to tend to his ill father, Abubakar and local politics in Sokoto. When his father was deemed to be too ill for the responsibilities of the office, Maccido was part of an Inner Council to govern the Emirate.

Muhammadu Maccido as Sultan

Maccido eventually recovered financially. He started importing goods and selling the goods to local businesses, just before he became sultan. Ibrahim Dasuki was removed from the position by military dictator Sani Abacha on 19 April 1996. Without going through the traditional Sokoto system of selection, Abacha named Maccido the new Sultan and he was turbaned (or a formal coronation) on 21 April 1996 in the Sultan Bello Mosque. As Sultan, he became the spiritual leader to the Nigeria’s Islamic community and head of the Sokoto Emirate.

As part of his position, he also became the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria and made significant connections with other Muslim groups around the world from this position. He attended the World Conference on Islam, went to Saudi Arabia to raise money for Islamic schools, and engaged significantly with Muslims elsewhere in the world. To support Muslims in northern Nigeria, Maccido gave encouragement to a Muslim women’s education organization, founded a school outside of Sokoto, and began a major push for the polio vaccine to be distributed widely. In 2004, he organized the celebrations of the bicentennial jihad of Usman dan Fodio, the founder of the Sokoto Emirate, and the start of the Fulani War.

With increasing ethnic tensions between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, Maccido attempted to end the violence and intervened many times to reduce tensions. During his time as sultan, he also conferred traditional titles on three of his sons. His son Malami was turbaned as “Danburan Sokoto”; Ahmed, who is now a senator, was turbaned as “Mainan Sokoto”; and Bello, who is the CEO of FBN holdings in Nigeria, was turbaned as “Wakilin Sokoto”. Even after the death of their father, they have all retained their titles as key princes of the caliphate.


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Death and Burial

After celebrating the Eid al-Fitr in 2006, Maccido went to Abuja to meet with President Olusegun Obasanjo. After that meeting, Maccido got on a plane back to Sokoto on Sunday 29 October. On the flight were one of his sons Badamasi Maccido (who was the Senator from Sokoto), his grandson, and other regional government authorities who were in Abuja for an education workshop. The ADC Airlines Flight 53 crashed just after takeoff, killing most of the people on board including Maccido, his son, and grandson. Maccido’s body was not burnt, making positive identification easy. His body was led through the streets of Sokoto with tens of thousand of mourners gathered. He was buried in the main tomb of the sultans of Sokoto (the Hubbare), near that of his father.

Sources:

Boyd, Jean (February 2010). “The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Maccido (1926-2006)”. Africa. 80 (special 1): 159–165.

Falola, Toyin (2009). Historical Dictionary of Nigeria. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press.

Polygreen, Lydia (2006-11-29). “Jet Crashes in Nigeria, Killing 98”. New York Times.

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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