Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria [Full Research]
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria [Full Research]
Ahmadu Bello University is a well known federal government university, that is popularly known for its reputation and outstanding academic performance world wide. The university operates a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs. (and provides associate degrees, technical and remedial programs). The university has a major medical program with its own A.B.U. Teaching Hospital which is one of the biggest teaching hospitals in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

History of Ahmadu Bello University

Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) is situated in Zaria, Kaduna State, and is a federal government research university. ABU was established as the University of Northern Nigeria on October 4, 1962.

Three main campuses are managed by the university: Samaru and Kongo in Zaria, and the Funtua School of Basic Studies. Administration, technology, social sciences, arts and languages, education, environmental design, engineering, medical sciences, agricultural sciences, and research facilities are located on the Samaru campus. The Faculties of Law and Administration are hosted by the Kongo campus.

Accounting, Business Management, Local Government and Development Studies and Public Administration Departments composes the Faculty of Administration. In addition, at other sites, the university is responsible for a number of other institutions and services.

The university is named after the first Premier of Northern Nigeria, in person of  Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, of the Sardauna of Sokoto.

The Foundation

On October 1, 1960, when Nigeria gained independence, it had only one university: the University of Ibadan, founded in 1948. The important report of the Ashby Commission (submitted one month before independence) proposed the addition of new universities in each of the three regions of Nigeria at that time, as well as the capital, Lagos.

However, even before the Commission’s report, regional governments had already started planning universities. In May 1960, the School of Arabic Studies in Kano was upgraded to the Ahmadu Bello College for Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Northern Region. (The college was named after Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the dominant political leader of the region.)

A new impetus and direction was provided by the recommendations of the Ashby Commission report, and it was eventually agreed to build the University of Northern Nigeria at Zaria (instead of Kano). The university could take over the facilities of the Samaru Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology just outside Zaria and would include the Ahmadu Bello College in Kano, the Samaru Agricultural Research Institute,

the Institute of Administration at Zaria and Institute of Veterinary Science at Vom on the Jos Plateau. The law creating the new university was passed in 1961 by the legislature of the Northern Area. It was agreed that the university should be named after Ahmad Bello, and then the college of Kano would take the name of Abdullahi Bayero, the former Emir of Kano.

At its opening on October 4, 1962, ABU announced four faculties comprising 15 departments, thanks in part to the absorption of established institutions. Students in all programs, however, numbered just 426. There were immense obstacles facing them. Education in the Northern Region has lagged well behind that of the two southern regions for over 60 years of British colonial rule. Few students from the North had university entrance qualifications and fewer northerners even had teaching appointment qualifications.

Just 147 out of the original student body is from the North. As were most of the professorial appointments, ABU’s first vice chancellor (principal administrator and leader) was British. Among the earliest round of faculty appointments were only two Nigerians, Dr. Iya Abubakar (Mathematics) and Adamu Baikie (Education). Facilities on the main Samaru campus were insufficient, and it was difficult to handle and incorporate the physically divided pre-existing institutions.

Nevertheless, academic and administrative staffing was established under the vice chancellorship of Dr. Norman S. Alexander, new divisions and programs were created, significant building plans were undertaken, and duration increased rapidly. Nearly 1,000 students were enrolled by the end of Alexander’s tenure (1965–66). From 1966 on the New Zealand-born Alexander became a sort of “freelance vice-chancellor” Offering his experience to assist in the establishment of other West Indies, Fiji and Africa Commonwealth universities.

Progression through the mid 1970s

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

The coups and the anti-Igbo protests of 1966 affected ABU severely. But under the leadership of Dr. Audu, ABU had to expand and grow at a much faster rate. Growth in student enrolment has been kept hostage at secondary school level to the growth and advancement of A-level schooling.

ABU broke free from the British three-year legacy from 1968-69 and founded the School of Basic Studies to provide advanced secondary pre-graduate training on campus. Students attending the School of Basic Studies have effectively embarked on a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Strongly opposed by others, the school proved to be a great success and enrollment grew even faster. By its tenth year, ABU had more than 7,000 total enrolments, including non- and pre-graduate classes, of which more than half were in graduate programs. The University of Ibadan produced 615 graduates within its first ten years. The corresponding figure at ABU was 2,333 first degrees after 10 years, along with some advanced degrees.

ABU was noteworthy for the breadth of its ambition from the beginning. ABU established a variety of programs in its institutions, but mostly on or near the main campus of Samaru, that only the most extensive of U.S. state universities could have matched. It included engineering, medicine (the Zaria hospital was an ABU teaching hospital), pharmacy, architecture, well beyond the normal areas of the arts, languages, social sciences and sciences, Veterinary medicine and a wide range of agricultural divisions. Just outside the old town in Zaria, what was called the Kongo campus taught public administration and conducted a program of in-service training for local government in the north. The Faculty of Law is based on a campus in Kongo. Not only did the Faculty of Education teach education courses, but the Specialized Teacher’s Colleges in the northern states were also controlled.

Among Nigerian universities, ABU was also outstanding for the depth and national character of its student recruitment. ABU was founded as the University of Northern Nigeria. But, ABU has served students from every state of the Nigerian federation more than any other university in Nigeria.

A possible constraint during this time was professorial staffing to serve the burgeoning student enrollments and career opportunities. Relatively ample funds in the early 1970s made it possible to send some senior academic staff to complete advanced degrees at overseas institutions. A small yet growing number of Nigerians returned from abroad with Ph.D.s or other advanced degrees (but to employ them, ABU had to compete with the other Nigerian universities). In the meantime the appointment of expatriate teaching staff was necessary, and nationalities grew dramatically and diversified. Vice Chancellor Audu sought to align the aims of ABU professors’ Nigerianization (and “northernization”) with the dedication to preserving all programs of academic excellence at an international level.

This equilibrium was strained in 1975. T he teaching faculty remained more than half expatriate Overall; even more so at senior levels. The growth of Nigerian staffing (and particularly of teaching staff of northern origin) was viewed as too sluggish. In 1975, as it introduced the Graduate Assistantship program, ABU shifted to a much heavier focus on internal staff growth.

The best graduating student from the undergraduate programs of the departments are selected under this program to join the department as staff-in-training and undertake advanced training as they gain on-the-job experience. A substantial proportion of ABU senior staff were products of the internal training programs within a few years. The proportion of expatriate teaching staff decreased rapidly from 1975 onwards.

Their subsequent development

At the end of Ishaya Audu’s vice chancellorship (mid-1975), ABU was firmly known as the biggest university in Nigeria and among the most academically powerful university institutions in Africa. Continued strong growth. But external events and threats have steadily buffeted ABU. There was no vice-chancellorship as long (or, arguably, as successful) as Ishaya Audu’s. ABU was hit with dramatically reduced support from the beginning of the 1980s as the International Monetary Fund, the Structural Reform Programme was introduced by the World Bank: the value of the national currency collapsed in comparison to international currencies. In cost-of-living terms, staff salaries were quickly decreased, and funding for equipment, library purchases, and other required services was suddenly reduced. In addition, ABU has increasingly competed with all other institutions within the rapidly expanding Nigerian university system for students, employees and funding.

YOU MAY ALSO READ: Things You Need To Know About University Of Obafemi Awolowo, Ile-Ife (OAU)

In May 1986, in order to avoid a nonviolent demonstration against the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programme, the security forces killed about 20 protesters and bystanders at the ABU.

ABU has been influenced over the years by national political turmoil. The very reality of the striking “national character” of ABU (in attracting students and employees from an extraordinarily large range of geographical, ethnic and religious communities in Nigeria) may incline the institution to internal instability. ABU has definitely been among the universities in Nigeria that have suffered most from closures.

Departments In Ahmadu Bello University

The ABU has grown into Nigeria’s largest, and most influential and varied university. Comprising 82 (82) Academic Departments, 12 (12) Faculties, and 12 (12) Research Institutes and Specialized Centers. Such as:


  • Accounting
  • Business Administration
  • L G & Development Studies
  • Public Administration


  • Agric Econs & Rural Sociology
  • Agronomy
  • Animal Science
  • Crop Protection
  • Plant Science
  • Soil Science


  • African Languages and Cultures
  • Arabic
  • Archeology
  • English
  • French
  • Hausa
  • History
  • Theatre & Performing Arts


  • Arts and Social Science Education
  • Educational Foundation & Curriculum
  • Educational Psychology & Counselling
  • Library and Information Science
  • Physical and Health Education
  • Science Education
  • Vocational and Technical Education


  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Water Resources & Environmental Engineering

Environmental Design

  • Architecture
  • Building
  • Fine Arts
  • Geomatics
  • Industrial Design
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Urban and Regional Planning


  • Civil Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Private Law
  • Public Law
  • Sharia Law


  • Anaesthesia
  • Chemical Pathology
  • Community Medicine
  • Dental Surgery
  • Haematology and Blood Transfusion
  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Medicine
  • Nursing Science
  • Obsterics and Gynecology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Paediatrics
  • Pathology (Morbid Anatomy)
  • Psychiatrics
  • Radiology
  • Surgery
  • Traumatic and Orthopeadic Surgery

Pharmaceutical Science

  • Clinical Pharmacy & Pharmacy Practice
  • Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Microbiology
  • Pharmacognosy & Drug Development
  • Pharmacology and Therapeutics


  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Microbiology
  • Physics
  • Textile Science & Technology

Social Science

  • Economics
  • Mass Communication
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
Veterinary Medicine
  • Theriogenology and Production
  • Veterinary Anatomy
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Veterinary Parasitology and Entomology
  • Veterinary Pathology and Microbiology
  • Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Veterinary Physiology
  • Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine
  • Veterinary Surgery and Medicine

List of Courses available at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU)

  • Accountancy / Accounting
  • Agricultural Science and Education
  • Agriculture
  • Anatomy
  • Arabic Studies
  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Science(s)
  • Building
  • Business Administration
  • Business Education
  • Business Management
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Civil Law
  • Computer Science
  • Drama / Dramatic / Performing Arts
  • Economics
  • Education and Arabic
  • Education and Biology
  • Education and Chemistry
  • Education and Christian Religious Studies
  • Education and Geography / Physics
  • Education and Hausa
  • Education and Integrated Science
  • Education and Islamic Studies
  • Education and Mathematics
  • Education and Physics
  • Education and Social Studies
  • Electrical Engineering
  • English Language
  • Fine Art
  • French
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Glass Technology
  • Guidance and Counseling
  • Hausa
  • History
  • Home Economics and Education
  • Hospitality And Tourism Management
  • Industrial Design
  • Information Resource Management
  • Insurance
  • Insurance and Actuarial Science
  • International Studies
  • Islamic / Sharia Law
  • Land Survey
  • Library and Information Science
  • Literature in English
  • Local Government And Development Studies
  • Mass Communication
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medicine and Surgery
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Nursing / Nursing Science
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical and Health Education
  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Political Science
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Textile Science and Technology
  • Urban and Regional Planning
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Water Resources and Environmental Engineering
  • Zoology


Their main objective is to encourage the student, without fear or unnecessary timidity, to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the outside world. It is an atmosphere which is highly competitive. The students see themselves as a family and therefore work hand in hand to achieve a clear objective.


Ahmadu Bello University also aim at building global leaders, focus on ensuring 100% progress in all exams for the final year students and instill self-discipline, as well as strong moral and social values.



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