The establishment of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) began in 1961 following the recommendation of the Ashby Commission on "Post-School Certificate and Higher Education in Nigeria". A Law establishing a Provisional Council for the University was passed by the Legislature of Northern Nigeria in April while the Council itself was constituted in November, 1961, under the Chairmanship of the Hon. Shettima Kashim, CBE, who later became Sir Kashim Ibrahim KCMG, CBE. Sir Norman Stanley Alexander, a New Zealander and a Professor of Physics at the University College, Ibadan, was appointed the First Principal, later Vice-Chancellor, of the University in July and he assumed office in November, 1961.
Ahmadu Bello University began full operation in 1962, on the cites of these educational institutions: the defunct Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, founded in 1955; the Clerical Training Centre, Kongo, founded in 1957; the Samaru Agricultural Research Station, established in Â 1924, and the Shika Livestock Farm, started in 1928. The University was named after SirAhmadu Bello (1901-1966), "the Sardauna of Sokoto" and the Premier of Northern Nigeria. As the first Chancellor of the' University, Sir Ahmadu Bello performed its Opening Ceremony on the 4th of October, 1962. In 1975, the University was taken over by the Federal Government through a Decree (the Ahmadu Bello University [Transitional] Provisions Decree of 1975), thus becoming a Federal University.