The National Mathematical Centre Abuja was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria on January 1, 1988 although the decree (Decree No. 40) giving it a legal backing as a corporate body with perpetual succession and a common seal, was not promulgated until December 12, 1989.
The Centre was created to develop appropriate initiatives and resources of international standing for reawakening and sustaining interest in the mathematical sciences at all levels in Nigeria, and also as an adequate response to the dramatic decline in the production of teachers and specialists in the mathematical sciences at all levels.
The annual postgraduate output of mathematical scientists in Nigeria is steadily declining. Furthermore, the number of qualified senior secondary school graduates who apply for admission to read mathematical sciences in universities has drastically diminished. At all levels, the dearth of qualified teachers is a long-standing problem which has now become more and more acute especially in the wake of the recent upsurge in student numbers and in the number of educational institutions.
The great concern for this dramatic decline was reflected in the goodwill message of President Ibrahim Babangida on the occasion of the inauguration of the Nigerian chapter of the African Mathematical Union on August 16, 1987, in Lagos. An extract of the message is as follows:
"…Mathematics and the Physical Sciences in general have of late proved to be an area of great hardship. The number of teachers is not rising with the number of students. As a result of this, students seem to be doing less and less well in these subjects. They consequently tend to lose interest. All these in turn, mean that there will be fewer and fewer teachers. A vicious circle is set up and the prospects of scientific and technological development become dim wherever such a circle is firmly established."
It was finally created after the collective efforts of many notable Nigerians especially mathematicians and learned societies and some initiatives by Professor Abdus Salam who visited Nigeria to show support for the Centre.