Kings and their titles in Nigeria: List of traditional rulers

Kings and their titles in Nigeria: List of traditional rulers

Some people may ask if there are any locations that still adhere to the old culture and way of life as our way of life changes throughout time. For example, a "Traditional Ruler," like in Nigeria, is in charge of many African traditional states. Find out more about the pre-colonial governments, Nigeria's traditional leaders, kings, and their titles.

kings and their titles
Kings and chiefs. Photo: @sadailysun, @BBCnewsafrica, @nigerianfashions (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Different ethnic groups in pre-colonial Nigeria created traditional administrative structures representative of their local cultures, beliefs, and customs. As a result, the governments founded by the Igbo, Yoruba (Oyo Kingdom), and Hausa-Fulani were unique to their environments and had very diverse ways of operating.

Kings and their titles: Traditional rulers in Nigeria and their titles

People who hold traditional titles are those who inherited them from earlier heads of sovereign states or groups. Even though they do not hold official political power, they strongly influence the residents of their town and are highly respected.

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Names of traditional rulers in Nigeria and their titles

There are currently more than 100 traditional chiefs in Nigeria. The following is a list of some of the most powerful names of community leaders in Nigeria, the state they control, and their titles.

NameTitleState of rule
Adeyeye Enitan OgunwusiOoniIfe
Sa'adu AbubakarSultanSokoto
IdiaQueen MotherBenin
Ogiame Atuwatse IIIOluWarri
Efunroye TinubuPrincess Consort to Oba Adele AjosunLagos and Paramount
Sir Adeniji Adele K.B.E.ObaLagos
Alfred AchebeObiOnitsha
JajaAmanyanaboh Opobo
Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-KanemiShehuBorno

Names of kings in Yoruba land and their titles

The Yoruba chieftaincy system has four distinct ranks: royal chiefs, noble chiefs, religious chiefs, and common chiefs. The obas, who are at the top of the hierarchy and act as the system's fons honorum, are in charge of the royals.

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Here is a list of traditional rulers in Nigeria who are presently ruling.

1. Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi

  • Date of birth: 17 October 1974
  • Reign: 26 October 2015 – present

Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwus is the 51st Ooni of Ife. He is the Yoruba kingdom of Ile-traditional Ife's monarch.

He is a well-known humanitarian who supports the underprivileged and is dedicated to mankind. Over the years, he has assisted the House of Oduduwa Foundation and, more recently, the Hopes Alive Initiative.

2. Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III

  • Date of birth: 14 September 1943
  • Reign: 2 August 2005 – present

The current Alake of the Egba clan in Abeokuta, Nigeria, is Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III. He was a naturalised member of the Laarun Ruling House. He is the nephew of Oba Gbadebo II and the grandson of Oba Gbadebo, the sixth Alake of Egbaland, who ruled from 1898 to 1920.

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3. Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona

  • Date of birth: 10 May 1934
  • Reign: 2 April 1960 – present

The Awujal of the Ijbu Kingdom, a traditional state in Nigeria, is Oba Sikiru Kayde Adetna. He was one of Nigeria's rulers with the longest reign. He belongs to the Anikinaiya House.

4. Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi

  • Date of birth: 28 December 1956
  • Reign: 17 July 2015 – present

The Nigerian monarch Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi is also known as Odundun II. He is the 47th and current ruler of Akure Kingdom, a traditional state in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

He represented the Nigerian Institute of Architects and was a founder member of the Nigerian Architects Registration Council (ARCON).

Regarding the importance of youth in governance, he has delivered public lectures at prestigious universities, including Obafemi Awolowo University and Adekunle Ajasin University.

5. Oba Adesimbo Victor Kiladejo

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  • Date of birth: 1970
  • Reign: 29 December 2008 – present

Adesimbo Oba Jilo III, also known as Victor Kiladejo Adenrele Ademefun Kiladejo, was chosen to serve as the 44th Osemawe, or traditional head of state, of the Ondo Kingdom in Nigeria.

He was born in Ondo City and is the eldest of the twenty-two children of Prince Gbadebo Adedoyin Kiladejo. He studied at the University of Ife, which is now known as Obafemi Awolowo University, where he received his bachelor's degrees in health sciences, medicine, and surgery.

Roles of traditional rulers in Nigeria

Tradition rulers in Nigeria play a significant role which includes:

  • Fostering national identity.
  • Intervening in conflicts between the government and its people.
  • Minor dispute settlement.
  • Giving inept state bureaucracies a safety valve within the institution.
  • Act as a liaison and interpreter for individuals from other ethnic groups who struggle to communicate with one another.

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Titles of traditional rulers in Nigeria

Below are popular traditional titles in Nigeria.

  • Lamido, Mai, Sarki, or Shehu in their native tongues, or Emir in English.
  • Both the Yoruba and the Edo use the title "Oba."
  • In Edo, Odion and Okao were credited to their senior elders and governors, respectively, while Enogie is attributed to the dukes of the traditional rulers.
  • The Yoruba tribes are said to have governed Alaafin, Alake, Akarigbo, Awujale, Olomu, Ooni, Orangun, and Olu'wo, among others.
  • Isokos and Urhobos in Nigeria's Delta State utilise ovie. Other organisations go by names like Odion-Ologbo, Odio r'Ode, Ohworode, Orodje, and Orosuen.
  • Eze, Igwe, and Obi are common titles used by Igbo kings in the South East. Efik and Ibibio leaders are called Adidem (also called Edidem).
  • Local names like Amanyanabo, Obanobhan, and Olila-Ebhugh are also used among the people in their immediate neighbouring villages.

Tribal or traditional chief

When referring to the tribes in Nigeria, the terms "traditional chiefs" or "tribal chief" may also be used instead of "traditional rulers."

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A traditional chief is a person who serves as the self-government representative for a tribe or ethnic group. Nigeria's states are home to nearly 300 different ethnic groups. According to rank, some of the biggest and most well-known ethnic groups are:

  • Hausa
  • Yoruba
  • Igbo
  • Ijaw
  • Kanuri
  • Fulani
  • Ibibio
  • Tiv

What is the title of traditional rulers in Nigeria?

Oba is the main title used by Yoruba people to refer to their monarch. Other names include Ooni, Alake, Alaafin, Awujale, Olomu, Akarigbo, Orangun, Olu'wo, Eleko, Soun, Olumushin, and Eburu.

Who is the head of all kings in Nigeria?

Oba of Lagos is the supreme ruler of all kings. Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Aremu Akiolu is the current Oba of Lagos.

Who is the richest Oba in Nigeria?

According to, the wealthiest Oba in Nigeria is Oba Obateru Akinruntan, the ruler of Ugbo in Ondo state. He is reported to be worth $300 million.

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Who was the first king in Yoruba land?

Oduduwa, the first Yoruba king, is credited with creating the world. The Yoruba people are reported to think that their civilization began at Ile-Ife when the gods descended to earth.

The kings and their titles listed above still hold sway in their respective communities even though the president currently governs Nigeria. This is because they are both a part of our history and present-day existence. They have developed into our ties to our traditions and our connections.

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