FEATURE: 50 prominent Nigerians with surnames derived from names of their hometowns

Aminu Kano was a popular politician in Nigeria’s First Republic and was even more popular and colourful during Nigeria’s Second Republic (1979 to 1983).

One of the many things that were interesting about late Aminu Kano was that his surname “Kano” was the same as the name of his hometown “Kano” in Kano State, Nigeria.

This practice of using the name of one’s hometown as one’s surname is very common among northern Nigerians either prominent or less than prominent.

The practice, as interesting as it is, should not be confused with the way Americans name and rename some of their towns and cities after the surnames of prominent American individuals (e.g. United State’s national capital Washington DC was actually known as Columbia before it was renamed after the country’s first president, George Washington), or with the way 7,641 islands on the Pacific Ocean were grouped together (by the islands’ Spanish colonial masters) and namedPhilippines after the Spanish King Philip II , or with the way China was named after Chin Shi Huang who became the emperor of the country 2,237 years ago in 221 BC.

In essence, the names of the towns and cities in northern Nigeria are not derived from the surnames of individual northern Nigerians; it is the surnames of some northern Nigerians that are derived from their individual hometowns.

Below is a list 50 prominent northern Nigerians whose surnames were derived from the names of their hometowns, though it should be noted that not all northern Nigerians use the names of their hometowns as their surnames

  1. Aminu Kano
    Aminu Kano

    Alhaji Aminu Kano, the socialist politician who was once the chief whip of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, who was once Nigeria’s minister of health, and who was once a presidential candidate during Nigeria’s second republic, was a native of Kano, Kano State, Nigeria.

  2. Bashir Tofa , the industrialist-businessman–oil trader, who was once the national finance secretary of the now–defunct National Party of Nigeria, (NPN) and who was the presidential flagbearer of the now defunct National Republican Convention (NRC),
    Bashir Tofa
    Bashir Tofa

    is a native of a town named Tofa in Kano State, Nigeria

  3. Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the trained teacher that later joined the Nigerian Army and is presently Nigeria’s Chief of Army staff, is a native of Buratai town in Biu Local Government, Borno State, Nigeria.
  4. Tafawa Balewa
    Tafawa Balewa

    Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the United Kingdom-trained schoolteacher that later became Nigeria’s Prime Minister, was a native of a town named Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi State, Nigeria.

  5. Major General Mamman Kotangora (rtd), who was one of the first candidates to be admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy when it opened in 1964 and who was once the military administrator of Abuja FCT, is a native of Kotangora, Niger State, Nigeria.
  6. Major General Hassan Usman Katsina (rtd), the one–time Governor of Northern Nigeria and also Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff from 1968 to 1971,
    Hassan Katsina
    Hassan Katsina

    was a native of Katsina, in Katsina state, Nigeria.

  7. Shehu Shagari
    Shehu Shagari

    Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was Nigeria’s finance minister from 1971 to 1975 and also Nigeria’s executive president from 1979 to 1983, is a native of Shagari town, Sokoto State, Nigeria.

  8. Alhaji Ali Yerima Bularafa, the commissioner for information in Yobe state, is a native of Bularafa, a town in Gulani Local Government Area of Yobe State, Nigeria.
  9. Barrister Ahmed Goneri, one–time commissioner for justice and attorney general of Yobe State, is a native of Goneri, a town in Gujba Local Government Area, Yobe State, Nigeria.
  10. Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, the national secretary of the All Progressives Congress political party, is a native of Buni Yadi town in Yobe State, Nigeria.
  11. Alhaji Aliyu Makama Bida, the first minister for education in Northern Nigeria, was a native of Bida, Niger State, Nigeria.
  12. Abubakar Rimi
    Abubakar Rimi

    Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, the United Kingdom-trained executive governor of Kano State from 1979 to 1983 and also a PDP presidential contender in 1999, was a native of Rimi town, Sumaila Local Government Area, Kano State, Nigeria.

  13. Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was the speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives from 2011 to 2015, is a native of Tambuwal town in Sokoto State, Nigeria.150px-Aminu_Waziri_Tambuwal_at_VOA
  14. Alhaji Aliyu Sabo Bakin Zuwo, who was a senator from 1979 to 1983 and also Kano State Governor from October to December 1983, was a native of Zuwo town, Kano state, Nigeria.
  15. Former Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, who is presently a senator, is a native of Makarfi town in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
  16. Alhaji Usman Baba Pategi, the northern Nigerian stage and film actor, is a native of Pategi, Kwara State, Nigeria.
  17. Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, who was the speaker of Nigerian House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007, is a native of Masari town in Katsina State, Nigeria.
  18. Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari, the well-respected senior Nigerian Army officer who was cold–bloodedly murdered by tribalist coup plotters in 1966, was a native of Maimalari town, Yobe State, Nigeria.
  19. Mai Kachalla Gujba, an executive director of First Bank of Nigeria, is a native of Gujba town in Yobe State, Nigeria.
  20. General Garba Wushishi (rtd), who was the minister for information during Shagari Adminstration, is a native of Wushishi town, Niger state, Nigeria.
  21. Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, a former Nigerian minister for agriculture and later a minister for industries in Nigerian Second Republic, was a native of Gusau town in Sokoto State (not to be confused with the Gusau that is the capital of Zamfara State).
  22. Gov Kwankwaso 2
    Rabiu Kwankwaso

    Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State, is a native of Kwankwaso town in Kano State, Nigeria.

  23. Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai, a pharmacist who was once Taraba State commissioner for education, is a native of a town known as Suntai in Taraba State, Nigeria.
  24. Alhaji Muhamadu Ribadu, who was minister for mines, minister for lands, minister for Lagos, and minister for defence during Balewa Administration, was a native of a town known as Ribadu  in Adamawa State, Nigeria.
  25. Alhaji  Abdulrahman Okene, who was a prominent politician during Abacha military junta, was a native of Okene town in Kogi State, Nigeria.
  26. Alhaji Abba Musa Rimi, deputy governor of Kaduna State from 1979 to 1981 and governor of Kaduna State from 1981 to 1983, is a native of a town named Ungwan Rimi in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
  27. Abdullahi Ganduje
    Abdullahi Ganduje

    Incumbent Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who had his doctorate degree from University of Ibadan, is native of Ganduje town in Kano State, Nigeria.

  28. Senator Bala Tafida Yauri, a prominent northern Nigerian senator, is a native of Yauri, Kebbi State, Nigeria.
  29. Alhaji Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi, the former governor of Zamfara State, is a native of Shinkafi town, Zamfara State, Nigeria.
  30. United Kingdom-trained Dr. Ahmad Galadima, who once won the Bank of Scotland Prize for writing the best MSc dissertation in United Kingdom in 2008, is a native of Galadima town in Zamfara State, Nigeria.
  31. Alhaji Abubuakr Saleh Michika , the first civilian governor of Adamawa State who is reputed to have 96 grandchildren, is a native of Michika town, Adamawa Satte, Nigeria.
  32. Alhaji Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, who was Sokoto State governor from 1999 to 2007, is a native of Bafarawa town, Sokoto State, Nigeria.

    Attahiru Bafarawa
    Attahiru Bafarawa
  33. Gov. Aliyu-Wamakko
    Aliyu Wamakko

    Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, the University of Pittsburgh, USA graduate who was Sokoto State Governor from 2009 to 2015, is a native of Wamakko, a town in Sokoto State, Nigeria.

  34. Alhaji Sanni Umar Ganduje, a northern Nigerian traditional ruler that was recently dethroned, is a native of Ganduje town, Kano State, Nigeria.
  35. Lieutenant Colonel Abubakar Sadiq Zakari Maimalari (rtd), a former military administrator of Jigawa State, is a native of Maimalari  town, Yobe State, Nigeria.
  36. Alhaji Inuwa Wada , the former Nigerian minister for works and survey and later a minister for defence, was a native of Tudun Wada, Kano State, Nigeria.
  37. Major General Muhammed Shuwa (rtd), who was the general officer commanding 1st Division of Nigerian Army from 1967 to 1969 and who was Nigeria’s minister for trade from 1975 to 1979, is a native of Shuwa town, Borno State, Nigeria.
  38. Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, who graduated from University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom and who was the president of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries , OPEC from 1972 to 1973, is a native of Monguno town, Borno State, Nigeria.
  39. Nuhu Ribadu , pioneer chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, is a native of Ribadu town ,  Adamawa State, Nigeria.

    Nuhu Ribadu
    Nuhu Ribadu
  40. Alhaji Salihu Sagir Takai, a former contender for Kaduna State Governorship seat, is a native of Takai town in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
  41. Lieutenant General Inuwa Wushishi (rtd) , the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff from 1981 to 1983, is a native of Wushishi town, Niger State, Nigeria.
  42. Colonel Dala Aji Goniri, former commander of Nigerian Army 241 Recce Batallion, is a native of Goniri town, Yobe State, Nigeria.
  43. Tahir Mohammed Monguno, an incumbent member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives , is a native of Monguno town, Monguno Local Government Area, Borno State, Nigeria.
  44. Nigerian Federal House of Representatives member Aliyu Bahago Ahman Pategi is a native of Pategi town, Kwara State, Nigeria.
  45. Babayo Garba Gamawa, former speaker Bauchi House of Assembly and also a former Deputy Governor and senator, is a native of Gamawa town, Bauchi State, Nigeria.
  46. Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), the Nigeria’s incumbent national security adviser who holds master degree in International Relations, is a native of Monguno town, Borno State, Nigeria.
  47. Alhaji Usman Dakingari, the incumbent governor of Kebbi State, is a native of Dakingari town, Suru Local Government Area, Kebbi State, Nigeria.
  48. Adamu Aliero
    Adamu Aliero

    Alhaji Adamu Aliero, a former governor of Kebbi State, is a native of a town known as Aliero in Kebbi State, Nigeria.

  49. Former Jigawa State Governor Ali Sa’ad Birnin-Kudu, who is a veteran lawyer, is a native of Birnin-Kudu town, Jigawa State, Nigeria.
  50. Alhaji Audu Sule Katagum, the chief of staff to Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar, is a native of Katagumtown, Bauchi State, Nigeria.

The list is actually endless like a recurring decimal but it should be noted (as earlier stated) that not all northern Nigerians use the names of their hometowns as their surnames.

It should also be noted that the practice of using the name of one’s hometown as one’s surname is not limited to northern Nigeria.

For instance, the former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah (rtd), is a native of Minimah town in Opobo Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria, a town in the southern part of the country.

It also does appear that the practice extends beyond Nigeria. The former United States National Security Advisor, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski is a native of a town known as Brzezany in the then Poland but now located in Ukraine.


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