The role of men in maternity care in Africa is understudied, despite their economic dominance and decision making power. In a patriarchal society like northern Nigeria, pregnancy and childbirth are often regarded as exclusively women's affairs. Using data from interviewer administered questionnaires and in-depth interviews; we assessed birth preparedness, complication readiness and male participation in maternity care in Ungogo, a northern Nigerian community. Majority of pregnancies were unplanned (96%). Only 32.1% of men ever accompanied their spouses for maternity care. There was very little preparation for skilled assistance during delivery (6.2%), savings for emergencies (19.5%) or transportation during labour (24.2%). Young paternal age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2-2.6), formal education (AOR = 1.9, 95% CI=1.1-3.4) and non-Hausa Fulani ethnicity (AOR=2.3, 95% CI = 1.4-3.3) were independent predictors of male participation in maternity care. There is a need to increase involvement of men in their partner's maternity care through peer-led, culturally-sensitive community education and appropriate health system reforms.