College of Medical Sciences

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria - Nigeria

The History of College of Medical Sciences

In 1961, the idea to establish a Medical School in Northern part of Nigeria was conceived and in 1967 it actually took off. In 1961 the Federal Government, in a White paper, decided that by 1970 there would be a “full-fledged” Faculty of Medicine at Ahmadu Bello University. The National Universities Commission in its report in 1963 fully supported this intention of the Federal Government, and the Government in accepting the report agreed to honour this commitment. In 1966, Ahmadu Bello University headed by the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ishaya S. Audu (after whom the current preclinical complex is named), planned jointly with the Ministry of Health of the old Northern Nigeria Government headed by Dr. R.A. Barau Dikko for the immediate formation of a Faculty of Medicine. In October 1966, key personnel began to arrive in Kaduna, Professor R.F. Collis from the University of Lagos and Professor P.S.C. Bunning from the University of London.

Their task was to undertake a feasibility study, plan the curriculum etc. On the 25th November 1966 the Council of the University approved the establishment of the Faculty. In 1967, Professor U.G. Lister arrived from the University of Ibadan and Professor T.F. Nicholson from the University of Toronto. While in 1969 Professor J.H. Lawrie arrived to take over the chair of surgery. The Faculty of Medicine thus came into being at a moment in the history of Nigeria when the Northern Region had a population of approximately 29 million people with only a handful of Nigerian Doctors available to provide a Medical Service. The Civil War made the inauguration of the Medical Faculty an even harder task than usual because of the shortage of funds and staff, but in spite of this, the first students commenced their training in 1967. In 1969 the faculty received visits from Professor M.H. King of the University of Zambia and Professor K.R. Hill of the University of London to advice on the possible training of Clinical Assistants and Professor W.J.E. Jessop of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) to advice on the curriculum. The first graduates of the Faculty were awarded the MBBS certificate in the year 1972 when a total of 27 medical doctors qualified.

The Faculty has indeed grown over the years and in order to facilitate and consolidate the development of the Faculty as center of excellence, the Faculty structure will not foster the rapid development of essential medical education objectives expected of the largest and the oldest medical school in Northern Nigeria. In recent times the Faculty has come under pressure by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to transform into a college in order to be able to achieve the desired objectives. This is also in line with the recommendation of the National Universities Commission (NUC). The collegiate structure will allow rapid expansion of programmes and admission quota, accelerate decision-making and achieve greater coordination and cross fertilization of related discipline. It is with this background that this proposal is being developed for consideration.