Nigeria Military

Nigeria is a country located in Western Africa, bordered by Niger to the north, Chad and Cameroon to the east, Benin to the west and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. It has a population of around 200 million people and the official language is English. The majority of the population are Christians, with some other religious denominations also present.

The military of Nigeria consists of four branches; Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense Intelligence Agency. The total active personnel in the military are around 80,000 people. The Army has around 70,000 personnel with a focus on ground operations and border protection. It also has a Navy with 7,000 personnel for naval operations as well as 20 combat vessels for maritime defense missions within Nigerian waters. The Air Force has 3,500 personnel with 100 combat aircrafts for air support operations and air defense missions within Nigeria’s borders.

Nigeria is a member of several international military or defense organizations such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). The country also participates in United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world. In addition, Nigeria is a major contributor to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which is an 8-nation coalition formed to combat terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin region. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Nigeria.


The defense of Nigeria encompasses 78,500 men enlisted and (2006) is organized in an army of 62,000 men with three divisions of two brigades. three major battleships and six patrol boats. The Air Force comprises 9,500 men with approximately 80 fighter aircraft and ten armed helicopters. Reserves are planned to be organized. Half-military security forces amount to 82,000 men, of which the port police have 2,000 men. The material is of varying semi-modern origin. Defense costs have decreased from 1.7 to 0.7% of GDP in 1985-2006. Nigeria participates in peacekeeping efforts in i.e. Burundi, Ivory Coast, Congo (Kinshasa), Ethiopia/Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Western Sahara and contributes with a Brigade in Sudan (UNMIS) and a Brigade in Liberia (UNMIL). To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that NG stands for Nigeria.

Nigeria Army

Nigeria has volunteer military service. The total force numbers for Nigeria’s armed forces are 135,000 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, some 80,000 semi-military forces are arriving.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Do you know where is Nigeria on the world map? Come to see the location and all bordering countries of Nigeria.


The army has a force of 100,000 active personnel. Materials include 319 tanks (176 Vickers Mk 3, 100 T-55 and 43 T-72), 157 Scorpion light tanks, 342 clearing vehicles, 32 storm tanks, about 655 armored personnel vehicles, and 69 self-propelled artillery (including 30 self-propelled artillery). In addition, the Army has medium-heavy artillery and anti-aircraft artillery.

Air Force

The Air Force has a force of 10,000 active personnel. Materials include 12 fighters of a F-7, two ELINT aircraft, 32 transport aircraft, 118 trainer (48 of which can also be used as light attack aircraft) and 54 helicopters, 15 of combat helicopters (six Mi-24 and nine Mi-35). In addition, the Air Force has light and heavy drones.

The Navy

The Navy has a force of 25,000 active personnel, including the Coast Guard. The fleet includes a frigate, a corvette, 120 patrol vessels, two minesweepers, four landings and one auxiliary. In addition, the Navy has five helicopters.

International operations

In 2018, Nigeria participated in the UN operations in Sudan (UNAMID) with 126 personnel and seven observers, and in Mali (MINUSMA) with 83 personnel and four observers. Nigeria also participated with observers and a small number of personnel in UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Lebanon (UNIFIL), Somalia (UNSOS), Sudan (UNISFA), in the South -Sudan (UNMISS) and in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

In addition, Nigeria participated in the operations of ECOWAS in the Gambia (ECOMIG) with 200 personnel, and in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) with 100 personnel.

From military rule to the other republic

In 1974, Gowon announced that there were no plans for a transition to civilian government, and in May 1975 he was plunged into a coup. He was succeeded by Brigadier General Murtala Ramat Muhammad, who announced that the military would hand over power to an elected civilian government before 1979. However, he was himself killed in a failed coup attempt in 1976. Muhammad’s second-in-command, Lieutenant General Olusegun Obasanjo, took over the leadership of the military government. and led Nigeria forward to civilian rule.

The new constitution was based on the United States Constitution, with a two-chamber parliament and an executive president. The state of emergency was abolished in 1978, and at the same time party political activity was allowed. A number of parties were formed, but only five were approved for participation in the elections the following year. Shehu Shagari was elected Nigeria’s President and his party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), became the largest in the National Assembly.

Following the timetable, Shagari and the civil administration took over the government in Nigeria on October 1, 1979, and the Second Republic joined.

Oil boom, corruption and new military rule

Oil was found in Nigeria in 1956, and production started in 1958. The Biafra war coincided with rising oil prices internationally. By the end of the 1970s, Nigeria had become the seventh largest oil producer in the world, and the state received large revenues from oil production. Large amounts of capital were injected into the country’s economy, but inadequate state control over investment and development led to even more widespread corruption and large borrowing.

Shagari was re-elected in 1983, but the military again seized power on New Year’s Eve that year, ending the Second Republic. The rationale was the lack of financial governance and widespread corruption. The country’s new head of state, Major General Muhammad Buhari, was deposed in a palace coup in August 1985, and Major General Ibrahim Babangida took over the leadership of the military council and the post of head of state.

Towards the end of the 1980s, Babangida started a process of reintroducing democratic rule, and in 1988 a constitutional assembly met in the new capital Abuja. The ban on political parties was repealed in 1989, but political activity was nevertheless limited: Only two parties got silent in the election, both new: the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republic Convention (NRC).

The first of a series of elections began with local elections in 1990. One year later, elections were held for state assemblies and governors. In the same year the number of states was increased to 30 (in 1996 further increased to 36).

The short-lived third republic and the abacha regime

The election for a new national assembly was held in 1992, and the SDP gained a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The presidential election, after several postponements, was held on June 12, 1993. Although full results were never made public, it was clear that Moshood (MKO) Abiola of SDP won the majority. However, the election was declared invalid by the government.

Democratic activists and the trade union movement stood together in massive protests demanding recognition of the election and deployment of Abiola. Parts of the military also put pressure on Babangida, who had to step down. However, Abiola was not deployed, but a temporary government led by Shonekan was set up. Shonekan was also appointed head of state, a position he renounced in November 1993. Chaos and protests continued.

General Sani Abacha conducted a coup d’etat and took over the post of head of state himself. He banned political activity and imprisoned political opponents as well as several democracy activists. Abiola was arrested in 1994 after claiming to be inaugurated as a rightfully and democratically elected president, triggering widespread action. The protests escalated from 1995 after the military regime executed nine Ogoni activists, including author and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The executions led to massive support actions also internationally, and Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations.

Abacha took the first steps on the road to a new civilian government with local elections in 1997. In the subsequent elections at the state and national assemblies, only parties approved by central electoral authorities were allowed to stand. Five lots were approved; all five appointed Abacha as their desired candidate in the August presidential election.

But Abacha died in 1998 and was succeeded by General Abdulsalam Abubakar. The recent elections were canceled. Political prisoners were released and opposites in exile, among them Nobel laureate in literature Wole Soyinka, were allowed to return home. Former Prime Minister Olusegun Obasanjo was among those released .