Posted by on 1/29/2003 1:07:30 PM
Post Comment BORNO STATE Nigeria

Historical Development:

Borno State, which was created in 1976, initially comprised the present Borno and Yobe States. The creation of the state was,

University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital
University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital

for the Kanuris who constitute its dominant ethnic group, the revival of a lost glory. Borno State, in 1976, covered 116,081 sq. km and embraced a greater part of pre-colonial Borno.

The emergence of this political entity, within a Federal Nigeria, gave the people the opportunity to do away with the anglicised name "Bornu" and replace it with "Borno," which is how the indigenous inhabitants refer to their area. Later, in 1991, Yobe State was carved out of Borno State.

The present Borno State, which covers 69,435 sq. km, lies within the ecumene of the Borno Empire which existed from the 14th century to the beginning of the 20th century (Borno State, 1993).

The history of Borno has its roots in the history of Kanern expansion westwards from Bahr-el Nur, an area east of Lake Chad. Not much is known of the people who lived in this large inland drainage basin of Lake Chad, between the 9th and 13th centuries. The Saifawa rulers (Mais) of Kanern moved to the area west of Lake Chad in the 14th century.

These people were referred to as the people from Bahr-el Nur. This name was later corrupted to Borno (Cohen, 1969) It was under the Mais, that the Kanuri emerged as a nation northwest of Lake Chad. Initially, they controlled settlements bordering River Yobe up to Geidam, with their capital at Ngazargamu. Borno reached the peak of its imperial power under Mai ldris Aloma.

Borno, in the 19th century, was very extensive and the region around Lake Chad was the ecumene of the Empire (Brenner, 1973). Because of its location, the Borno Empire performed an integrative role in the trans-Saharan trade and the hajj movements to the Middle East, which brought much prosperity to the empire. Furthermore, the vast undulating Chad plains with scanty vegetation facilitated movement.

Consequently, there were intrusive waves of migration of different groups into the region over the centuries. The most important of these groups were the Arabs, known locally as Shuwas, and various nomadic groups, known generally as the Fulanis. The Fulani Jihad of the 19th century greatly weakened the authority of the Mais. Borno lost Hadeiia and Kataqum to the iihadists. It was during this period that a Kanembu Islamic scholar, Muhammed EI-Amin lbn EI-Kanemi, displaced the Mais, established the EI-Kanemi dynasty, took the title of Shehu and transferred the capital to Kukawa. Rabeh, a Shuwa Arab and his army, in 1893, sacked much of Borno, including the capital, Kukawa, and became the ruler.

He transferred the capital to Dikwa. European colonisation which was fiercely pursued, especially in the last decade of the 19th century, led to Rabeh's defeat and the dismemberment of the Empire. A greater part of Borno then came under British rule, while the remaining parts were under the Germans and the French. In 1902 the British reinstated Urnar, the son of EIKanemi, as the Shehu of Borno.


Maiduguri International Hotel
Maiduguri International Hotel

The defeat of Germany during World War I in 1918 brought the German part of Borno under British Trusteeship and another Shehu was appointed for Dikwa. This is the origin of the two Borno emirates and two Shehus the Shehu of Borno and the Shehu of Dikwa. However, in 1939, the Shehu of Dikwa was moved to Bama. Today, Kanuri politics is dichotomised along this line.

The imposition of indirect rule by the British brought about the relocation of the capital from Kukawa to Yerwa in 1907; and the movement of the Shehu of Bornu and his court to Yerwa. Yerwa was the chosen name of the new capital by the inhabitants, while Maiduguri was the name of the colonial township. Maiduguri is now the official name of the capital of Borno, but the older generations of Kanuris still refer to it passionately as Yerwa. Borno became a province in 1907 and was part of Northern Nigeria until 1967 when the Northeastern State was created, with Maiduguri as the capital.

Borno State was carved out of the former Northeastern State by the Murtala Mohammed administration in 1976. In August, 1991, the Babangida regime carved the western part of Borno into Yobe State. Borno State now comprises twenty-seven local government areas (LGAs). This shows an increase of six LGAs over what existed in 1993. Each LGA serves as a constituency for the State House of Assembly, irrespective of population size while some LGAs have been merged to form federal constituencies for the National Assembly.

The state is divided into three senatorial districts: Borno North, Borno Central and Borno South. Borno North andCentral districts are inhabited mainly by the dominant Kanuris, while Bomo South is for other ethnic minorities. Furthermore, under the traditional setup, Bomo is made up of three Emirates (Bomo, Dikwa and Biu); and four chiefdoms (Shani, Askira, Uba and Gwoza). These emirates and chiefdoms are sub-divided into about forty Districts and over 200 village units.

Administrative Structure:

There are twenty seven LGAs in the state. The LGAs are subdivided into districts. Some LGAs have only one district while some have more than one. Each district is headed by a district head who is the official representative of the traditional authority in his area of jurisdiction. District headship is, to a large extent, hereditary.

Shehu of Borno's Palace,Markurdi
Shehu of Borno's Palace,Markurdi

The district head has an office, staff and an official car. He is initially placed on salary Grade Level 08 and can rise up to GL 14. The districts are further subdivided into village areas. A village area is a settlement or group of settlements under a village head (Lawan).

There are altogether 395 village areas in the state (Bomo State, 1989). The village head is appointed and, to a large extent, is hereditary. The village head liaises between his people and higher level authorities (LGA, Emirate Council and State Government). The restructuring of districts and village areas is an on-going process sometimes dictated by political considerations.

There are three emirates and four chiefdoms inthe state. The largest is the Borno emirate with sixteen LGAs namely Maiduguri, Jere, Guzamala, Mobbar, Abadam, Nganzai, Gubio, Kukawa, Monguno, Marte, Mafa, Konduga, Magumeri, Kaga, Damboa and Chibok. The Dikwa Emirate has Bama, Dilwa, Ngala and Kala-Balge.

The Biu Emirate has Biu, Hawul, Kwaya Kusar and Bayo. Shani, Askira, Uba and Gwoza are Chiefdoms. Traditional rulers of the emirates and chiefdoms constitute the Borno State Traditional Council with the Shehu of Borno as Chairman. The traditional rulers advise the LGAs and the state government on traditional and cultural matters.