Meet The 10 Most Powerful Traditional Rulers In Nigeria

emir of kano alaafin of oyo

Although practicing a presidential system of government, the important roles played by  the monarchs to the development of their societies and Nigeria as a whole cannot be overlooked.

Take a look at 10 most powerful Nigerian monarchs.

1 Emir of Kano:


The Emir of Kano is the head of the Kano Emirate and the Emirate was formed in 1805 during the Fulani Jihad, when the old Hausa Sultante of Kano became subject to the Sokoto Caliphate. His Royal Highness Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II is the current Emir of Kano after succeeding Alhaji Dr. Ado Abdullahi Bayero who ascended the throne in 1963 and ruled till his death on June 6, 2014.

Malam Sanusi before his ascension to the throne was a successful banker and the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Banker, a global financial intelligence magazine has conferred on him two awards for the global award for Central Bank Governor of the Year, as well as for Central Bank Governor of the Year for Africa. TIME magazine also listed him on its list of most influential people of 2011.

2 Alaafin of Oyo:

alaafin of oyo

The position of the Alaafin of Oyo is one of the most powerful and influential monarchical titles to be attained in Nigeria. The title of Alaafin can also be referred to as Oba in the Yoruba language and the word means king or ruler.

The current Alaafin of Oyo is Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III and he ascended the throne in 1970 succeeding Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II. So powerful is the position of the Alaafin of Oyo that until 2011, Oba lamidi Adeyemi III was the Permanent Chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs in Oyo State, a situation which was reversed by the former governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala. The position of chairman is now rotated between the Alaafin and his two rivals, the Olubadan of Ibadanland and the Soun of Ogbomoso.

3 Sultan of Sokoto:


The official title is Sultan of Sokoto and includes the title “Amir-ul-Momineen”. The post has become increasingly ceremonial since British rule, but the position of Sultan, still carries a lot of weight with Fulani and Hausa people from northern Nigeria.

The current Sultan of Sokoto is Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV and he is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto. He took the mantle of leadership following the death of his brother, Muhammadu Maccido who lost his life in the unfortunate ADC Airlines Flight 53 crash. The position accords him the honour of being considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s 70 million Muslims which is roughly 50 percent of the nation’s population.

4 Ooni of Ife:

ooni of ife1 1

The Ọọ̀ni of Ilé-Ifẹ̀ is the traditional ruler of Ile-Ife. Iferefers to the people while thecityis called Ile-Ife and its dynasty goes back hundreds of years.

Ile-ife is an ancient city in southwest Nigeria and currently sitting on the throne is Adeyeye Enitan Ogwunsi. Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, Ooni of Ife (born October 17, 1974) is a Nigerian accountant and the 51st Ooni of Ife. He succeeded the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who died on July 28, 2015.

5 Dein of Agbor:

dein of agbor

Agbor also known as Ominije as it was founded by Omini from Aguleri and it is an Igbo town in Delta state. Agbor was once affiliated with the Benin Empire before Benin was conquered by the British.

Sitting on the throne is Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi who goes by the title of “Dein of Agbor” which is the name of his ruling house (the traditional ruler is usually referred to as Eze or Obi). He was crowned king just two years and four months after his birth following the death of his father making him the youngest monarch ever to ascend a royal throne according to the Guiness Book of Records in 1981. Following his coronation, he left the shores of Nigeria to pursue his academics and returned to Agbor in 2001. He was appointed the fourth Chancellor of the University of Ilorin by former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 making him the youngest vice chancellor of a federal university. He is Officer in the Order of the Crown, Belgium and also the Vice-Chairman, Delta State Traditional Rulers Council.

6 Oba of Benin:

oba of benin new

The Oba of Benin, is the traditional ruler of the Edo people and all Ediod People and head of the historic Eweka dynasty of the Benin Empire – a West African empire centered on Benin City, in modern-day Nigeria. Prince Eheneden Erediauwa,  Oba of Benin, Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II was crowned the 39th Oba of Benin Kingdom at a colourful ceremony in October 2016.

Prince Erediauwa was crowned by the Usama N’ Ihiron also known as the Edion led by Chief Oliha.

7 Oba of Lagos:

Oba of Lagos

Although holding no political power, the Oba of Lagos is usually sought for counsel and sponsorship by politicians. The King of Lagos is the traditional and ceremonial head of Lagos, a historical Yoruba kingdom that went on to become one of the largest cities in Africa after first giving its name to Lagos State, the acknowledged financial heart of contemporary Nigeria.

The reigning Oba of Lagos is his Royal Highness Oba Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Aremu Akiolu I who was took up the crown of king in 2003. He is also known as the Eleko of Eko.

8 Olu of Warri:

Olu of Warri Coronation cer

The Kingdom of Warri is a traditional state based on the town of Warri in Delta State, Nigeria. The Olu of Warri is the head of the Itsekiri people and the position is currently held by His Royal Majesty Godfrey Abiloye Ikenwoli Emiko, who history henceforth shall record as the third university-graduate Olu of Itsekiri-land after Dom Antonio Domingo (Olu Oyenakpagha or Obanighenren (1625-1643)) and (Ogiame Atuwatse II (1987-2015)).

9 Obi of Onitsha:

obi of onitsha

The post of Obi of Onitsha is recognized by the state and federal government as he is regarded as a representative of his people. He is the traditional leader of Onitsha in Anambra state and Igwe Nnayelugo Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe currently sits on the throne.

Born on 14 May, 1941, he had his coronation on the 3rd of June, 2002 and has since then contributed significantly to the development of his people.

10 Olubadan of Ibadan:


The title Olubadan means “Lord of Ibadan” and it is the royal title of the king of Ibadan land. It usually takes decades to groom an Olubadan for the mantle through stages of chieftaincy promotion, thus meaning that just about any male born title-holder of the metropolitan center is a potential king. Olubadans are usually appointed from the two ruling lines to the throne, Egbe Agba (civil) and Balogun (military) on rotational basis following the death of a monarch.

The 11 high chiefs that formed the Olubadan-in-council, apart from the Seriki and Iyalode, are recognised as the traditional head of each of the 11 LGs in Ibadanland. They are appointed as presidents of customary courts, who are expected to adjudicate on matrimonial, land, boundary and other communal disputes. Oba High Chief Saliu Adetunji is the current Olubadan. He was the CEO of Babalaje Music, and said to be the one who discovered musician K1 the Ultimate.


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