The Faculty of Arts, as one of the twelve Faculties of Ahmadu Bello University,
is reputed to have existed before the formal establishment of the University.
As a foundation Faculty that soon metamorphosed into the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences,
the Faculty was, from its inception, poised to playa leading role in the administrative
development and academic accomplishments of the University.
The intricate relationship between the Faculty of Arts and Ahmadu Bello University can be better
appreciated by going into the history of the University itself. The idea of a University in
Northern Nigeria came up following the recommendations of the Ashby Commission on Higher
Education in Nigeria appointed by the Federal Government in 1959. By dint of hard work of
the personages assigned to the task, the seed sown by the Lord Eric Ashby Commission quickly
matured into fruition and the first University in the North was born on 14th October, 1962.
By a unanimous decision of the Northern House of Assembly, it was named after Sir Ahmadu Bello,
the Sardauna of Sokoto, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, in recognition of his invaluable services
to the North and the nation. If Zaria became the site of the new University, it was because
of the concentration of relevant academic institutions in this ancient city at the birth of the University.
Founded in the XVth Century to serve as an agricultural and commercial center,
an entrepot for sorghum and maize, Zaria's close contact with Islam, however,
enabled the city to grow rapidly and become a great center of Islamic scholarship
in the manner of its predecessors Gao, Timbuktu and Khartoum and throne-city of
His Royal Highness, the Emir of Zazzau. Such was Zaria's reputation for learning
and research that at the time Ahmadu Bello University came into being, the city
alone could boast of harbouring such major institutions as the Nigeria College of Arts,
Science and Technology, the Institute for Agricultural Research and the Institute
of Administration, all of which came to constitute the nucleus of the new University.
Indeed, what is today the Faculty of Arts emerged from the defunct Nigerian College of Arts,
Science and Technology, which has existed as far back as 1952.
Upon its integration into Ahmadu Bello University however, the University Administration,
conscious of the dearth of the much-needed manpower in the Humanities and the pertinence
of such experts to nation building, stepped up the development of the Faculty of Arts.
The Faculty of Arts took off with five Departments, namely the Departments of History,
Geography, English, Education and Fine Arts. The Faculty soon underwent several metamorphoses
in response to the reality of each time before arriving at first a Four- Department-Faculty,
namely the Departments of English and Drama, French, History and Nigerian and African Languages.
And secondly, in response to the global demand for specialization, and the need to enhance
the academic base of the Faculty and the aspirations of the staff, two new Departments were
created in June 2006. These are the Department of Archaeology, carved out of the History
Department and the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts which was the former Drama
Section of the Department of English. Consequent on this development, the Department
of English is now known as the Department of English and Literary Studies.
After the initial stages, the Faculty of Arts grew largely through the introduction
of new disciplines particularly in the Social Sciences. In March, 1966, the University
Governing Council gave approval for the establishment of a joint Faculty to be named
the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. This paved the way for the introduction of
the Departments of Economics and Government in 1966.
The Department of Government later changed its name to the Department of Political
Science to reflect its new focus. The Department of Sociology followed in 1967
while French, which had been under the Department of English, became an autonomous
Department in the expanding Faculty of Arts in 1968. The Department of Nigerian and
African Languages comprising Hausa and Arabic, the last of the Departments to be created,
came into existence in 1976. Four years later, in 1980, the Department of Political Science
introduced a degree programme in International Studies into the Faculty.
The story of the Faculty of Arts was not only that of introduction and incorporation
of new Departments as, along the way, it also had to shed its weight so as to sharpen its focus.
One of the disengagements at this time was the movement of the Department of Education
to the Faculty of Education when this Faculty was founded in the 1968/69 Session.
Another remarkable development in the course of the growth of the Faculty of Arts and
Social Sciences was the transfer, following the recommendation of the Faculty Development
Committee, of the Department of Fine Arts from F.A.S.S. to the Faculty of Environmental
Design in 1977. However, the single major change in the history of the Faculty of Arts
and Social Sciences occurred in 1996 when the then University Administration, under the
sole Administrator Major General Mamman Kontagora, divided the Faculty of Arts and
Social Sciences into two Faculties, namely the Faculty of Arts which remained in the
present location and the Faculty of Social Sciences which moved to the former site
of the School of General and Remedial Studies (SGRS). Dr. Tanimu Abubakar was the
first Dean of the Faculty of Arts.
The history of the Faculty of Arts will be incomplete without mentioning some of the
University centers and programmes that are either associated with it or directly
belong to it. The Northern History Research Scheme (NHRS) is one of them. Established
around 1963 by Professor Abdullahi Smith, the main aim of NHRS is to collate documents
on the history of Northern Nigeria. The NHRS gave birth to Arewa House. Originally called
the Northern History Research Project, Arewa House is based in the official residence
of the former Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, at Kaduna. It is charged
with the responsibility of collecting and preserving documents relating to Northern
History in the 20th Century. Arewa House has been part of Ahmadu Bello University
since 1978. We should also mention the Centre for Social and Economic Research
from which the present Institute for Development Research (IDR) evolved.
The Faculty of Arts continues to grow. In the 1999/2000 academic year,
it introduced the Proficiency Certificate in English for Foreigners (PCEF)
programme which is, today, the main artery for the admission of foreign
students into Ahmadu Bello University. Within its short period of existence,
the PCEF programme has trained hundreds of students from Francophone West and
Central Africa as well as students from far away Poland and Russia among others.
The Faculty is now linked to the Internet and also runs a sprawling IT Academy (FAITAC).
The IT Academy is being run in partnership with the firm of Consultants, Agiles
Technologies based in Abuja. The Academy is intended for students of Faculty of
Arts only. Credit for the Internet Services and the establishment of the Internet
Academy goes to the former Dean Dr. Kabiru Chafe, who single-handedly sourced for
the funds for this ambitious and unprecedented project. By all standards,
the Faculty of Arts can be said to have fulfilled the mission for which it
was established. At his installation as the first Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello
University on 23rd November 1963, the Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello charged the
new University to "be both national and international" to "search for and ...
spread knowledge ... (and) also serve the needs of the nation in terms of man-power
and the preservation and promotion of local culture." The Faculty of Arts has not
only drawn its staff from all corners of the world, it is also primus inter pares
in terms of manpower development, as it has produced graduates that have played
unsurpassable roles nationally and globally. To name but only a few of such
members of staff and students, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, now at the United
Nations was a member of staff of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
He is credited with initiating the International Studies programme
in the Department of Political Sciences in the former FASS. The late Dr.
Y.M. Maiangwa, one time Nigeria's High Commissioner to Canada was a former
student and member of staff of the Faculty of Arts. Chief Audu Ogbe, former
Chairman of the POP, is an alumnus of the Department of French.
The immediate past Vice Chancellor of this University, Prof.
Abdullahi Mahadi and his Deputy, Dr. George Kwanashie are products
and still members of staff of the Faculty of Arts. Also, the current
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) Prof. Yakubu Nasidi is a former student,
Dean of this Faculty and is still on the staff of the Faculty of Arts. Similarly,
Dr. Ibrahim Maccido, the current Grand Qadi of Kaduna State has a doctorate
degree in the Department of Nigerian and African Languages.
The Faculty of Arts continues to train high level manpower well equipped to play prominent roles in a fast globalising world.