Ahmadu Bello University

Ahmadu Bello University Zaria is a federal government research university in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria.[2] ABU was founded on 4 October 1962, as the pioneer university in Northern Nigeria.[2] It was founded and named after the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the first premier of Northern Nigeria.[3]

Ahmadu Bello University
Gate of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria 01.jpg
Main gate of Samaru campus, ABU Zaria.
Other name
Former names
University of Northern Nigeria
TypePublic, research
Established4 October 1962
ChancellorIgwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha.
Vice-ChancellorProfessor Kabir Bala[1]
Location, ,
Coordinates: 11°04′N 7°42′E / 11.067°N 7.700°E / 11.067; 7.700
ColoursGreen and white   

The university operates two campuses: Samaru (main) and Kongo in Zaria. There is a pre-degree school in Funtua, it is approximately 85 Kilometres[4] from the main campus of the university. The Samaru campus houses the administrative offices and the faculties of physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences, arts and languages, education, environmental design, engineering, medical sciences, agricultural sciences and research centres. The Kongo campus hosts the faculties of Law and Administration. The Faculty of Administration consists of Accounting, Business Administration, Local Government and Development Studies as well as Public Administration. Additionally, the university is responsible for other institutions and programmes at other locations.

The university runs a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programmes, including affiliate degrees vocational programmes and remedial courses. It has a very robust medical programme that is backed by its own ABU Teaching Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in Nigeria and Africa.[5]

In September 2021, the university moved the departments of Insurance and Actuarial science, Accounting and Business Administration from Kongo to the Business school[6] at its Samaru Campus.


The university has thirteen faculties:

Faculty of Environmental design ABU University.

Faculty of MedicineEdit

The Faculty of Medicine was upgraded to the College of Medical Sciences in 2018, with five faculties;[7]

The university also has a Division of Agricultural Colleges (DAC), a research institution established before the university, but later merged with the university. Apart from faculties, the university also has institutes affiliated to it. They are:

  1. Institute of Education
  2. Institute for Agricultural Research
  3. Institute of Administration
  4. Iya Abubakar Institute of ICT
  5. Institute of Development Research and Training
  6. National Animal Production Research Institute[8]


Kashim Ibrahim Library is an academy library that serves the students and academic staff of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna. It is located at the main campus of the university with other satellite libraries in different campuses within the university.[5] The library has over 1.2 millions books with over 66000 periodicals titles, online databases, CD-ROM search room, and Learning commons in their collections.[9] Currently, the Library has over ten divisions for effective services to the university community.[10]

Front view of Kashim Ibrahim Library, ABU Zaria

The genesis of Kashim Ibrahim Library dates back to 1955 when the university came into existence. Then it was a small room which was later converted to a staff club. The small library served until 1963, when a modern library was built at the cost of $39,000. The library was named after the then-governor of the state. The library has a capacity of 70,000 books with 120 users at any time. The library was named after the governor Sir Kashim Ibrahim in 1963. Presently, the library management are working hard to upgrade the information technology skills of its staff to meet the 21st century skills of Librarians. Online databases, off-line, and CD-Rom searches are the features among staff and students of the university.[11]


Foundation and first yearsEdit

As Nigeria approached independence on October 1, 1960, it had only a single university: the University of Ibadan, established in 1948. The important Ashby Commission report[12] (submitted a month before independence) recommended adding new universities in each of Nigeria's then-three regions and the capital, Lagos. Even before the report, the regional governments had begun planning to have universities. In May 1960, the Northern Region had upgraded the School of Arabic Studies in Kano to become the Ahmadu Bello College for Arabic and Islamic Studies. (The college was named after the region's dominant political leader, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello.)

The Ashby Commission report recommendations gave a new impetus and direction. It was ultimately decided to create a University of Northern Nigeria at Zaria (rather than Kano). The university would take over the facilities of the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology at Samaru just outside Zaria, and would incorporate the Ahmadu Bello College in Kano, the Agricultural Research Institute at Samaru, the Institute of Administration at Zaria, and the Veterinary Research Institute at Vom on the Jos Plateau. The law establishing the new university was passed by the Northern Region legislature in 1961. It was decided to name the university after Ahmadu Bello, and the Kano college took the name of Abdullahi Bayero, a past Emir of Kano.

At the opening on 4 October 1962, thanks in part to absorbing existing institutions, ABU claimed four faculties comprising 15 departments.[13] Students in all programmes numbered only 426.

Department of Micro Biology ABU Zaria.

The challenges were enormous. Over 60 years of British colonial rule, education in the Northern Region had lagged far behind that of the two southern regions. Few students from the north had qualifications for university entrance, and fewer still northerners had qualifications for teaching appointments. Of the original student body, only 147 were from the north.

ABU's first vice chancellor (principal administrator and leader) was British, as were most of the professorial appointments. Only two Nigerians — Dr. Iya Abubakar (Mathematics) and Adamu Baikie (Education) — were among the earliest round of faculty appointments. Facilities on the main Samaru campus were inadequate, and the administration and integration of the physically separated pre-existing institutions was difficult.

Nevertheless, under the vice chancellorship of Dr. Norman Alexander, academic and administrative staffing was developed, new departments and programmes were created, major building plans were undertaken, and student enrollments grew rapidly. By the end of Alexander's tenure (1965–66), almost 1,000 students were enrolled. The New Zealand-born Alexander, from 1966, became a kind of "freelance vice-chancellor", offering his expertise to help in the setting up of other Commonwealth universities in the West Indies, Fiji and Africa.[14]

Development through the middle 1970sEdit

In 1966, Dr. Alexander was succeeded as ABU vice chancellor by Dr. Ishaya Shuaibu Audu, a pediatrician and associate professor at the University of Lagos. Audu had been born in Wusasa, near Zaria, in 1928. A native Hausa, he was ABU's first Nigerian vice chancellor and a northerner. However, his membership in the Hausa Christian community of Wusasa probably had some later impact on his tenure.

ABU was seriously affected by the coups and the anti-Igbo riots of 1966. But, under Dr. Audu's leadership, ABU was to grow and develop at an even faster pace. Growth in student enrollments had been held hostage to growth and development of A-level training at the secondary school level. So beginning in 1968–69 ABU broke free from the British three-year heritage and established the School of Basic Studies to provide advanced secondary pre-degree training on campus.[15] Students who entered through the School of Basic Studies essentially embarked on a four-year program toward a bachelor's degree.

Opposed initially by some, the school proved a great success and enrollments expanded even more rapidly. By its tenth year ABU total enrollments including non- and pre-degree programs were put at over 7,000 of which more than half were in degree programs. In its first ten years, the University of Ibadan produced 615 graduates. At ABU the corresponding figure after 10 years was 2,333 first degrees, along with several advanced degrees.[16]

From the beginning, ABU was remarkable for the breadth of its ambition. In its institutions, but mainly on or close by the main campus by Samaru, ABU was creating a range of programmes that only the very most comprehensive of U.S. state universities could have matched. Ranging far beyond the standard fields of the arts, languages, social sciences and sciences, it included engineering, medicine (the Zaria hospital was an ABU teaching hospital), pharmacy, architecture, and a wide variety of agricultural departments including veterinary medicine.

What was called the Kongo campus just outside the old city in Zaria taught public administration and carried out a programme of in-service training for local government throughout the north. The Faculty of Law was based at the Kongo campus. The Faculty of Education taught education courses and managed the Advanced Teacher's Colleges in the northern states. At the Kano campus (now called Abdullahi Bayero College) ABU taught courses in Hausa, Arabic and Islamic studies.

ABU was likewise remarkable among Nigeria's universities for the breadth and national character of its student recruitment. ABU had been founded to be the University of Northern Nigeria. Yet, more than any other of Nigeria's universities, ABU has served students from every state of the Nigerian federation.[17]

Professorial staffing to serve the burgeoning student enrollments and course offerings was a potential limitation during this period. In the early 1970s relatively abundant funding made it possible to send some senior academic staff to overseas institutions to complete advanced degrees. A small but increasing number of Nigerians with Ph.D.s or other advanced degrees were returning from abroad (but ABU had to compete with other Nigerian universities to recruit them). In the meantime, appointment of expatriate teaching staff was essential and it expanded greatly and diversified in nationalities. Vice chancellor Audu endeavored to balance the goals of Nigerianization (and "northernization") of ABU's professors with the commitment to maintaining all programmes at an international level of academic quality.

By 1975, this balance was strained. The teaching faculty remained more than half expatriate overall; at senior levels still more so.[18] The development of Nigerian staffing (and especially of northern-origin teaching staff) was perceived as too slow. In 1975, ABU turned toward a much heavier emphasis on internal staff development as it adopted the Graduate Assistantship programme. Under this programme, the best graduates from the departments’ undergraduate programmes are recruited to join the department as staff-in-training and undertake advanced training as they gain on-the-job experience. Within a few years, a significant proportion of ABU senior staff were products of the internal training programme. From 1975, the proportion of expatriate teaching staff diminished rapidly.[19]

Later developmentEdit

Amina hall of residence ABU

By the end of the vice chancellorship of Ishaya Audu (mid-1975), ABU was solidly established as Nigeria's largest university and among Africa's academically strongest university institutions[citation needed]. Its strong growth continued But was increasingly buffeted by external events and challenges. No vice-chancellorship has been as long or as successful) as that of Ishaya Audu. Beginning in the early 1980s, ABU was hit with sharply reduced funding as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank imposed the Structural Adjustment Programme on the country. Accordingly, the value of the national currency plummeted in relation to international currencies. Staff salaries were reduced rapidly in cost-of-living terms, and funding for facilities, library acquisitions, and other necessary resources was abruptly curtailed. Further, ABU increasingly competed for students, staff and funding with all the other institutions in the rapidly expanding Nigerian university system. In May 1986 the security forces killed around 20 demonstrators and bystanders at ABU, in order to prevent a peaceful demonstration against the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programme.[20] Over the years, ABU has been affected by national political instability. The very fact of ABU's strikingly "national character"[21] (in drawing students and staff from an unusually broad range of Nigeria's regional, ethnic and religious communities) might be the reason the institution is inclined to internal instability. Hence, ABU has been among Nigeria's universities that have suffered most from closures.

Ahmadu Bello University Zaria Senate Building, August 2021

Yet ABU continues to occupy a particularly important place among Nigerian universities. As it approaches its half-century anniversary, ABU can claim to be the largest and the most extensive of universities in Sub-Saharan Africa.[22] It covers a land area of 7,000 hectares (27 sq mi) and encompasses 12 academic faculties, a postgraduate school and 82 academic departments. It has five institutes, six specialized centers, a Division of Agricultural Colleges, demonstration secondary and primary schools, as well as extension and consultancy services which provide services to the wider society. The total student enrollment in the university's degree and sub-degree programme is about 35,000, drawn from every state of Nigeria, Africa, and the rest of world. There are about 1,400 academic and research staff and 5,000 support staff.

The university has nurtured two new institutions: Bayero University Kano and the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University of Technology, Bauchi. Some 27 tertiary institutions made up of colleges of education, polytechnics and schools of basic or preliminary studies are affiliated to it.

Despites the numerous achievements of this reputable institution, there are some challenges that the Institution faces. These challenges vary from one section to another. For instance, in terms of infrastructure, the school does not have enough classrooms for the students from some sections. Based on that, clashes occur on venues especially in the morning when most classes hold. Again, even for sections that have classrooms, those classes tend to be unfit for the number of the students. Another challenge that has not yet been checked relating to infrastructure is that of hostels or Hall of residence as it's widely known. The hostels available for students are not capable of accommodating all the students interested in residing within the campus. As a result of that, many new students are stranded on the campus especially at the beginning of the session, and others that are lucky get squatting spaces with friends and family that have already gotten hostels.


Ahmadu Bello University has a chancellor as its ceremonial head, while the vice-chancellor is the chief executive and academic officer. The vice-chancellor is usually appointed for a five-year, non-renewable term. The 14th and current vice-chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, took office on 1 May 2015.[23] Below is the tabulated list of all ABU vice-chancellors. The number 8 in the series is a sole-administrator appointed by then head of state Sani Abacha after a major conflict.[24]

S/N Name Tenure Profession
1 Professor Norman Alexander 1961–1966 Physicist
2 Professor Ishaya Audu 1966–1975 Medical doctor
3 Professor Iya Abubakar 1975–1978 Mathematician
4 Professor Oladipo Akikugbe 1978–1979 Medical doctor
5 Professor Ango Abdullahi 1979–1986 Agricultural Scientist
6 Professor Adamu N. Muhammad 1986–1991 Entomologist
7 Professor Daniel Soror 1991–1995 Veterinarian
8 Major-General Mamman Kontagora 1995–1998 (Sole Administrator)[24]
9 Professor Abdullahi Mahadi 1999–2004 Historian
10 Professor Shehu Usman Abdullahi 2004–2009 Veterinarian
11 Professor Jarlath Udoudo Umoh 2009–2009 Veterinarian
12 Professor Aliyu Mohammed 2009–2010 Linguist (English)
13 Professor Abdullahi Mustapha 2010–2015 Pharmacist
14 Professor Ibrahim Garba 2015–2020 Geologist
15 Professor Kabir Bala 2020–Date Construction Management
Table source: Undergraduate Handbook 11th ed.[25]

Notable alumniEdit

The Ahmadu Bello University is notable for producing prominent people and Nigerian leaders, including many former and current state governors and ministers. Amongst the alumni are:

Alumni AssociationEdit

Ahmadu Bello University Alumni Association
PresidentAhmed Tijani Mora
Location, ,
ColorsOrange and Blue    
AffiliationsAhmadu Bello University
WebsiteOfficial website

Ahmadu Bello University Alumni Association is an alumni organization for former students of the Ahmadu Bello University.[27] The alumni association is often represented by the national president of the association in the governing council of the university. This is necessary for the association to make a direct input into the university's policies.

The national body of the association currently has 17 National Executive Committee (NEC) members who manage the affairs of the association in alignment with the provisions of the association constitution.[28] The incumbent national president of the alumni association is Ahmed Tijani Mora, a renowned pharmacist and former registrar and chief executive officer of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria.[29]


The alumni association was founded in the early 1960s by the graduating class which included architect Chief Fola Alade, Chief Lai Balogun and Professor Ayodele Awojobi.[30] Today, the alumni association has branches across the federation with the secretariat at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Since the inception of the association, the governing council of Ahmadu Bello University has maintained a strong working relationship with the association with the aim of developing the university.[31] Initially, the association was under the supervision of the deputy vice chancellor of the university. Today it is directly under the office of the vice chancellor and supervised by the vice chancellor.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ NUC. "List of Universities". Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Ahmadu Bello University". Ahmadu Bello University. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  3. ^ "History Of ABU Zaria: The Largest University In Sub Saharan Africa | The Abusites". 2021-05-03. Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  4. ^ "Maps". www.bing.com. Retrieved 2022-09-14.
  5. ^ a b "Kashim Ibrahim Library". library.abu.edu.ng.
  6. ^ "Buhari Commissions ABU Business School —— FG Spends N1.3trn on Education in 4 years | National Universities Commisfion". Retrieved 2022-05-24.
  7. ^ "Home | College of Medical Sciences | Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria - Nigeria". Archived from the original on 2022-04-19. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  8. ^ "Home". abu.edu.ng.
  9. ^ Grace, Nok. "The Challenges of Computerizing a University Library in Nigeria: the Case of Kashim Ibrahim Library, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-06-06.
  10. ^ "The Iconic Kashim Ibrahim Library: One Of Africa's Largest University Libraries | The Abusites". 2022-03-07. Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  11. ^ "Kashim Ibrahim Library". library.abu.edu.ng. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  12. ^ Sir Eric Ashby. Investment in Education: The Report of the Commission on Post-School Certificate and Higher Education (Lagos, 1960)
  13. ^ Details on all aspects of ABU's development are provided in the chapters and appendices of A History of Ahmadu Bello University, 1962–1987, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria, 1989.
  14. ^ "Obituary:Sir Norman Alexander". The Independent. 5 April 1997. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  15. ^ See History of Ahmadu Bello University, p. 270.
  16. ^ Ten Years: The First Decade of Ahmadu Bello University, October 1962-October 1972, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria, 1972; and History of Ahmadu Bello University, pp. 267–282.
  17. ^ Paul Beckett and James O’Connell, Education and Power in Nigeria, Hodder and Stoughton, 1977, pp. 26–30; and History of Ahmadu Bello University, Appendix V and VI, pp. 280–1.
  18. ^ History of Ahmadu Bello University, Table X, p. 307.
  19. ^ See Chapter Ten ("Staff Recruitment and Development in ABU, 1962–1987") in History of Ahmadu Bello University, pp. 196–219.
  20. ^ "Structural Adjustment Program". The Whirled Bank Group. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  21. ^ Ramalan, Ibrahim (2019-03-15). "ABU matriculates more than 13,000 students for 2018/2019 academic session". Daily Nigerian. Retrieved 2022-09-14.
  22. ^ "Mahdi Adamu. <italic>The Hausa Factor in West African History</italic>. (Ahmadu Bello University History Series.) Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press and Oxford University Press Nigeria. 1978. Pp. x, 224. $32.00". The American Historical Review. June 1980. doi:10.1086/ahr/85.3.689-a. ISSN 1937-5239.
  23. ^ "ABU gets new VC". The Nation Newspaper. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  24. ^ a b George Klay Kieh (2007). Beyond state failure and collapse: making the state relevant in Africa. Lexington Books. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-7391-0892-5.
  25. ^ Ahmadu Bello University (2014). Undergraduate Student Handbook. Ahmdu Bello University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-978-125-139-9.
  26. ^ "Staff Profile". ihvnigeria.org. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  27. ^ "Emir Of Zazzau Pledges Support For ABU Alumni Association". Leadership Newspaper. Retrieved 10 November 2015.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Alumni Should Give Back To Alma-Mater – Mora". Leadership Newspaper. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  29. ^ "ABU has done well for Northern agricultural development – Alumni". Daily Trust. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Mora Elected ABU Alumni President". Leadership Newspaper. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  31. ^ "Intellect and infrastructure". The Nation Newspaper. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.

External linksEdit