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The making of a Wazirin Adamawa

The Waziri title holds prime ministerial significance and it is the most prominent title in the Adamawa emirate cabinet, second only to the Lamido. Originating…

The Waziri title holds prime ministerial significance and it is the most prominent title in the Adamawa emirate cabinet, second only to the Lamido. Originating from the Sokoto Caliphate, the Adamawa emirate follows the traditions of other northern emirates.

While anyone from the Adamawa emirate territory who has recorded notable achievements and is loyal to the emirate’s institution can potentially become Waziri, there are cultural, historical, and royal considerations to be made. A person whose mother is from a royal family is often preferred for the position of Waziri, as it is believed that such a person aligns with the emirate’s traditions.

The Waziri holds a significant position of leadership within the Adamawa emirate council and confides in other members of the cabinet, including the Galadima and other titleholders like the Wali, Yerima, Sardauna, Dallatu, and other council members.

While there are about 100 traditional title holders within the emirate, not all of them are members of the traditional council.

The most immediate decision-making body within the council is made up of members who attend weekly meetings, which typically take place every Thursday. These meetings include members of the council and a good number of council members who are also part of the king makers, chaired by the Lamido himself. It is during these meetings that crucial decisions regarding the governance and development of the emirate are made. The Adamawa emirate council remains a symbol of leadership and tradition, with the Waziri serving as a vital figure within its ranks.

The Adamawa emirate council plays a crucial role in the governance and development of the region, taking decisions and reviewing issues that affect the emirate’s interests. The council is responsible for dealing with both local and external correspondences and regularly sends emissaries within Adamawa and to other countries.

The Adamawa emirate is the largest and most diverse territory within the Sokoto Caliphate, spanning four countries. Its borders stretch from the hills of Gwoza in Borno to the fringes of Banyo and Tamiya in Cameroon, with a considerable presence in Chad and even as far as central Africa. Given the emirate’s vast size and heterogeneity, the council’s role in shaping governance and development cannot be overstated.

The Waziri is responsible for organising other councillors and dealing with issues such as the appointment of district heads and the routine administration of the various districts within the emirate. Until recently, the emirate had 33 districts, with two more added in the Karewa and Nassarawo Abba districts, both within the Jimeta capital metropolis.

As the Lamido cannot be everywhere at once, the Waziri assists in overseeing the districts and can appoint other members of the council to represent him in matters such as events, ceremonies, and conflict management. Through his leadership, the Waziri ensures that the emirate’s governance is efficient and effective, promoting the development and growth of the region.

This illustrious title, meaning “one who wakes the ruler if he sleeps, to make him see if he is blind, and to remind him if he forgets,” embodies the significance of the role in the Sokoto Caliphate’s administration. The Waziri’s title is as old as the Adamawa emirate, since the Mai Aliyu of over two centuries.

The present Lamido Barkindo gave the Waziri title to the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in November 2017, which coincided with his birthday.

The title, which is more of an elevation from his former title of the Turaki, a position he held for over three decades, because he was made the Turaki of Adamawa in 1982, when he was a top Customs officer. He held the position for 36 years.

When Lamido decided to elevate him to the position of Waziri, he also considered it necessary to confer the Turaki title on one of his sons, Aliyu, because the Turaki title had been in the family for long.

The Waziri’s office was created in 1973 by Lamido Sanda, with Aliyu, the eldest son of Alkasum, being the first to hold the position. Aliyu received the title from Lamido Sanda and held it until his death in 1890.

The second Waziri, Abdulkadir Pate, was appointed by Lamido Zubairu in 1891, following the demise of his brother, Aliyu. Abdulkadir Pate served until his death in 1924, when he was succeeded by the third Waziri, Mallum Hamman, who served through the reigns of three Lamidos from 1924-1957.

Mahmud Ribadu, the fourth Waziri of Adamawa, was appointed by Lamido Aliyu Musdafa in 1957. However, due to his government duties, Madaki Adamawa Bello Malabu acted as Waziri in his place from 1957-1968. Ribadu passed away in 1965, and Muhammadu Babba Lawan succeeded him as the fifth Waziri of Adamawa, appointed by Lamido Aliyu Musdafa in 1968. Lawan served until his death in 2000, and the office of Waziri remained vacant for ten years.

Muhammad Abba Muhammad served as the sixth Waziri of Adamawa, appointed by the current Lamido in 2010. He passed away in April 2017, and Atiku Abubakar was appointed as the seventh Waziri of Adamawa on June 1st, 2017, by Lamido Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa.


The Waziri’s traditional regalia:

The way the Waziri ties his turban reflects the fombina formula.   A title holder or Waziri is typically adorned in elaborate regalia, comprising a Jumpa and trousers, overlaid with a babbar riga, akin to a gown, which is referred to as Gaare in Fulfulde. Atop this ensemble is an intricately embroidered garment, crafted from vibrant farmala fabric, extending up to the sleeves.

A further layer, the babbar riga, is worn from the neck down, showcasing exquisite embroidery. The Waziri’s regalia mirrors that of other title holders, albeit with a penchant for opulent, embroidered gowns or Alkyabba in diverse hues, often sourced from Zaria, renowned for its exquisite embroidery and designs.

The Adamawa royals’ turban is distinct from others, wrapped multiple times around the head, securing it tightly around the cap, with a rabbit ear-like projection at the top, fashioned from the soft turban cloth.

While sharing similarities with the Sokoto Emirate’s turban, the Adamawa version is worn more tightly, unlike the Kano turban, which features a Tagwayen masu/Kunen Zomo design, where the turban cloth is extended at the top, resembling two spears or rabbit ear-like shapes.

Only skilled experts are authorised to tie the Waziri’s turban. Occasionally, the Waziri dons a simple turban, known as the yar alkali.

The turban’s origin dates back to desert dwellers, who used it to shield their heads and eyes from the sand and heat. Given Northern Nigeria’s proximity to the desert, this cultural exchange has persisted for over 5,000 years, with trans-Saharan trade and communication spanning Libya, Morocco, Kano, and other regions.

In contemporary times, anyone can wear a turban, but it is typically reserved for special occasions like Sallah or Friday Jummat prayers.

In villages, people wear turbans as part of their cultural heritage, but this practice is less common in urban areas, even among those of royal lineage.

However, during festive periods, the Waziri and other title holders may don traditional attire, including turbans, to avoid breaking the dressing code. In the past, the Mai Jimina, made from ostrich feathers, was considered the finest footwear for the Waziri, but times have changed, and he can now wear any shoe of his choice.

Contributors: Alh Yakubu Abdullahi Yakubu, the Wakili Tarihin Adamawa ( Historian of the Adamawa Emirate Council) and Professor Abubakar Abba Tahir, the Kaakakey Adamawa (palace spokesperson).

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