In this post, we look at 10 problems facing the Nigeria military and possible solutions. This information is useful for policy makers, government agencies as well as researchers.
The Nigeria military has derives its origin from the Royal West African Frontier Force which was assembled and controlled by the British colonial government.
Initially, it was called the West African Frontier Force, a multi-battalion field force formed by the British colonial office in 1900. However, it became the Royal West African Frontier Force after receiving royal patronage from the queen of England.
When it was formed in 1900, the West African Frontier Force was composed of the Gold Coast Regiment, Northern Nigeria Regiment, Southern Nigeria Regiment, Sierra Leone Battalion and the Gambia Company.
It was in 1956 that the Northern Nigeria Regiment and Southern Nigeria Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Force were merged together and renamed the Nigerian Military Forces.
In 1960, it became the Nigerian Military Forces when Nigeria become independent. It was after Nigeria’s independence that it became the Nigerian Military.
The leadership of the Nigerian military comprises of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Comander-in-Chief of the armed forces, General Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff, and and Mansur Dan Ali, Defence Minister.
Currently, it has 162, 000 active personnel and 32,000 reserve personnel.
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Since its creation, it has fought in the civil war to keep Nigeria united, was part of the ECOWAS cease-fire monitoring contingent in Liberia and Seria Leone, and involved in United Nations peace keeping operations in the Congo crises, Chadian military operation, Niger Delta conflict, Boko Haram insurgency, etc.
Nigeria military has military training institutions which include the Nigeria Defence Academy ,Kaduna; Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji; National War College, Abuja.
The Nigerian Military consist of the Nigerian army, Nigerian navy and Nigerian air force. The Nigerian Military function chiefly in defending the country from external aggression and maintaining the integrity of the country.
Nigerian military is the biggest and one of the strongest in the African continent. Once a main contributor of peace keeping forces in the world, it is faced with many problems.
It has once been described as a sleeping giant. It’s reputation has suffered a drastic decline over the years which has been aggravated by a sharp decline in professionalism, degradation in its proficiency, endemic corruption, lack of equipment and other problems .
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10 Problems of Nigeria Military
In this article, ten problems facing Nigerian military shall be discussed. The ten problems are analysed below:
Over the past 40 years, the Nigerian military has been grossly underfunded. It has always been given low budget allocation. Funds have not been disbursed to it regularly.
It has been inconsistent over the years. Statistics show that from 2000 to 2008, it received less than 3% of the total government budget. However, from 2009 to 2014, it’s budget allocation improved to 7.2%.
Low funding of the military happens when there is defense budget cuts, irregular disbursement of needed funds and unavailability of special intervention funds needed for the execution of emergency operations.
Corruption is a global problem. It has seriously affected institutions, agencies and organizations all over the world. The Nigerian military is not exempted from the shackles of corruption.
It is sad that funds allocated for the purchase of military equipment are diverted by senior military officers to suit their personal use. It is a sad reality that junior military officers deployed to security checkpoints ask for bribes.
Senators and Honourables are also guilty of complicity in the problem of corruption facing the military. They often manipulate the appropriation process at the National Assembly to divert funds for the military to execute private business interests rather than benefit the military.
Consequently, substandard arms and ammunition are purchased and given to the defense headquarters. Most times, they are not even given to the military command.
3. Poor Human Rights Record
It is a sad reality that the military has poor human relationship with the civilians. This fact has been established by the report of Amnesty International. In its report, it cited instances of how the military abused civilians and violated human rights on several occasions.
This is indeed a sad commentary on the Nigerian military. This is exemplified in the serious abuse of civilian communities, from the Ogoni land in the 1990s to Odi community in 1999 and Zaki Biam in 2001.
Poor Human Rights Records are consequences of long military rule in the country. Serious abuse of civilian populations range from extrajudicial killings, beating up civilians, killing people in urban areas.
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The military is grossly understaffed. Presently, it has less than 120,000 personnel in all military establishments. Under-staffing is caused by poor planning, dubious recruitment system and zero accountability.
Inadequate Military Institutions
Military institutions which train officers in the country are grossly inadequate. They lack adequate training facilities and instructors. Training syllabi used in these institutions are inadequate and outdated.
5. Poor Conditions of Service
Military officers are subjected to poor conditions of service. Military officers are poorly paid and are owned salary arrears. Those on the field are left at the mercy of nature. They are also left to go hungry. Injured officers receive poor medical treatment. Their post-service prospects is also bleak.
6. Dubious Recruitment System
Recruitment into Nigerian military institutions is dubious and based on nepotism and godfatherism. Recruitment is not based on merit and applicants offer bribes to get recruited.
Some military institutions collect dubious money from applicants in the name of registration fees, processing fees.
Recruitment into the military is based on whether candidates are connected to influential service chiefs, military leaders, heads of military institutions and political leaders.
The end result disastrous-the recruitment of half baked, unqualified and incapable individuals who are unable to hold their own when deployed to the battle ground.
7. Poor Equipment Maintenance Culture
Military institutions lack maintenance culture. Military equipment are not properly maintained and kept. They are left to rot away and become non-functioning. They lack qualified technicians and engineers to carry out routine maintenance on military equipment.
8. Lack of Training
Over the years, successive governments have failed to invest in the training and retraining of military officers to get them abreast of modern military operations, innovations and modern warfare tactics , military intelligence. Most Nigerian officers are not properly trained and equipped to handle modern gadgets and devices.
Most military officers lack training required for strategic military intelligence and warfare tactics on and off the battle field. They cannot take terrorists, insurgents, and war criminals head on and with confidence.
They lack the required skills to launch offensive attacks against opponents and do not have skills to strategically defeat opponents or defend against them. Most military officers are therefore killed prematurely. These makes them ineffective to fight against Boko Haram and Al-Qaida terrorist Groups.
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9. Failure of The National Assembly to Carry out its Oversight Functions Properly
The National Assembly has failed in its oversight function to the Nigerian military:
- It has failed to conduct oversight visits to military establishments to add value to the defense establishment.
- It has failed to examine Millitary leadership nominees properly to make sure that only competent officers are appointed to administer military institutions.
- It is an accomplice in manipulating the appropriation process to divert funds meant for military agencies for their private business and gains.
10 . Politicization of the Military
Politics and favouritism has always been in play in the military. The issue of politicization of the military has always played out during the promotion of commissioned and non-commissioned officers. Politics have also been witnessed during appointment into leadership positions in the military.
- The Nigerian government must ensure that the funds accrued from participation in peace keeping missions is invested in the Nigerian military.
- The government must be committed to building and developing a new defence policy and structure.
- The defence headquarters must improve equipment and logistics.
- The Nigerian government must formulate, develop and implement total defence restructuring by improving leadership, administration and accountability across the entire defence sector.
- The National Assembly must properly examine nominees for military leadership positions with the objective of appointing competent officers to supervise the ministry of defence, military institutions and establishments.
- Nigerian military partners must appeal to the federal government on the need for it to carry out a deep, comprehensive and sustained military reform by providing relevant assistance, the flow of which is dependent on genuine steps and benchmarked progress.
- Nigerian military partners must support the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by offering training, equipment and other aid that boosts their capacity to monitor, investigate and prosecute corruption and human rights abuse in the defence sector more effectively.
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