The Hausa Fulani Precolonial Leadership Structure

The Hausa Fulani Precolonial Leadership Structure

The Hausa Fulani Precolonial Leadership Structure

  • Historical Background
Prior to the Jihad or the Holy War of 1804, the territory now known as the Northern sector of Nigeria was ruled by the Hausas under fourteen (14) independent kingdoms.

The defeat of the Hausas in the Holy War by the Fulani under the able leadership of a great Muslim leader called Othman Dan Fodio led to the abolition of the Hausa Kingdom and the establishment of the Fulani Emirates. Each emirate was headed by an Emir. Sokoto and Gwandu were made the two (2) headquarters for all the emirates.


The Emirs of the other emirates were appointed either directly by the Emirs of Sokoto and Gwandu or appointed by the local people subject to the ratification of either Emirs of Sokoto or Gwandu. All these Emirs paid allegiance and annual tributes to the Emirs of Sokoto and Gwandu.


For administrative convenience, Othman Dan Fodio divided the Fulani Empire into two (2): the Eastern and the Western section. The Eastern section included: Kano, Katsina, Zaria, Bauchi, Gombe, and Yola with Sokoto as its capital. On the other hand, Ilorin, Kotangora and Argungu with Gwandu as the capital were included in the Western region.


Mohammed Bello, son of Othman Dan Fodio, was given the administration of the Eastern section with its capital at Sokoto while Abdullahi, Dan Fodio’s brother, took charge of the Western section with Gwandu as its headquarters. Othman Dan Fodio, who was installed the Sarkin Muslim (The Commander of the Faithful), retired from political life but stayed in Sokoto.

  • The Structure Of The System
The Emirate: The Caliphate was divided into emirates and each was headed by an Emir. He had the responsibility of making laws, enforcing them and maintaining peace and order in the Emirate. He was expected to administer the emirates in accordance with provision of the Islamic and Sharia laws. In fact, he was believed to have divine right to rule.