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Before it became a state in Nigeria, Adamawa was a subordinate kingdom of the Sultanate of Sokoto which also included much of northern Cameroon. The rulers bear the title of emir ("lamido" in the local language, Fulfulde).

The name "Adamawa" came from the founder of the kingdom, Modibo Adama, a regional leader of the Fulani Jihad organized by Usman dan Fodio of Sokoto in 1804. Modibo Adama came from the region of Gurin (now just a small village) and in 1806, received a green flag for leading the jihad in his native country. In the following years, Adama conquered many lands and tribes. In 1838, he moved his capital to Ribadu, and in 1839, to Joboliwo. In 1841, he founded Yola, where he died in 1848. After the European colonization (first by Germany and then by Britain), the rulers remained as emirs and the line of succession has continued to the present day.
Dancers of Adamawa state in their cultural adornment

A measles outbreak was reported in an internally displaced persons camp in January 2015.[6]
Emirs of Adamawa

Emirs of Adamawa have included:

Modibbo Adama ben Hassan, 1809–1848
Lawalu ben Adama, 1848–1872 (son of the previous)
Sanda ben Adama, 1872–1890 (brother of the previous)
Zubayru ben Adama, 1890–1901 (brother of the previous)
Bobbo Ahmadu ben Adama, 1901–1909 (brother of the previous)
Iya ben Sanda, 1909–1910 (son of Sanda ben Adama)
Muhammadu Abba, 1910–1924 (son of Bobbo Ahmadu ben Adama)
Muhammadu Bello ben Ahmadu ben Hamidu ben Adamu, 1924–1928
Mustafa ben Muhammadu Abba, 1928–1946 (son of Muhammadu Abba)
Ahmadu ben Muhammadu Bello, 1946–1953
Aliyu Mustafa, 1953–2010
Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, 2011–present