Professor Ishaya Audu: The 2nd Vice-Chancellor of ABU Zaria.

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Professor Ishaya Audu was a renowned physician, outstanding Diplomat, and famous Academician who served as the second vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Minister of External Affairs (Foreign Minister), and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Ishaya Audu was born on March 1, 1927, in Anchau, a village near Zaria, Kaduna State. Initially educated at St. Bartholomew’s School in Wusasa, he moved to Yaba Higher College in Lagos and then to University College, Ibadan (renamed University of Ibadan) in 1948.

In 1951, he left for the University of London in England, where he stayed until 1954. In 1955, he studied at the University of Liverpool (also in England). It was in 1958 that he married his wife, Victoria, with whom he would father six children.

Professor Ishaya Audu (r), North's first Professor of Medicine and first Nigerian VC of ABU, Zaria, with the Assistant Registrar, Mike Angulu, 1967.
Ishaya Audu (r), North’s first Professor of Medicine and first Nigerian VC of ABU, Zaria, with the Assistant Registrar, Mike Angulu, 1967.

He also traveled to the United States where he was employed as an associate research professor at the University of Rochester, New York, and wrapped up his education at the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio from 1964 until 1968.

Audu lectured in Internal Medicine at the University of Lagos from 1962.

He was appointed as the first indigenous Vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1966 and served until 1975.

He had been the personal physician of Sir Ahmadu Bello (The Sardauna of Sokoto) whom the university is named after.

Professor Ishaya Audu was the vice-presidential candidate of the Nigeran People’s Party which had Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as its presidential candidate in the 1979 presidential Election.

Audu was a member of the Nigeria Peoples Party when President Shehu Shagari gave him the position of Minister of External Affairs in 1979. He also served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Nations. After the 1983 overthrow of Shagari’s government by General Muhammadu Buhari, Audu was detained for a year.

He was happily married to Victoria Abosede Ohiorhenuan from Ozalla, Owan West Edo State and they are blessed with six children.

After his release Audu took up private practice at his hospital in Samaru (Savannah Polyclinic); he also founded his own church (Charity and Faith Mission inc).

Professor Ishaya Audu died on August 29, 2005, at the age of 78 while in the United States with his son, Paul Audu.

Legacy of Professor Ishaya Audu at ABU Zaria

Under the leadership of Prof Ishaya Audu, Ahmadu Bello University became a giant. Some of his landmark achievements include:

  1. He broke ABU free from the British three-year heritage and established the School of Basic Studies to provide advanced secondary pre-degree training on campus.
  2. He expanded the total student enrollments including non- and pre-degree programs to 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.
  3. He ensured that ABU was creating a range of programs that only the very most comprehensive of U.S. state universities could have matched.
  4. He balances the goals of Nigerianization (and “northernization”) of ABU’s professors with the commitment to maintaining all programs at an international level of academic quality.
  5. He introduced the Graduate Assistantship program. Under this program, the best graduates from the departments’ undergraduate programs are recruited to join the department as staff-in-training and undertake advanced training as they gain on-the-job experience.

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.

Professor Ishaya Audu is believed by many to be the successful Vice-Chancellor in the history of ABU thus far.

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