Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and its armed forces are the biggest on the western part of the continent. Unfortunately, the big size doesn’t mean modern gear, best aircraft and ships, and other innovative equipment. Many soldiers can only perform the basic protective operations due to the lack of innovation and modernization. Still, the history of Nigerian army goes back to 1860s and thus we must recollect how it was formed and what it had to go through until today.
History of Nigerian Armed Forces
The country celebrated its independence from Great Britain in 1960, however, the history of Nigerian army began nearly a century before this. The first local force was formed by Sir John Hawley Glover nearly 100 years before the nominated date.
Sir John was a respected person in Nigeria. He was the officer of the Royal Navy, and, however, he was a military man, he disregarded many rules while serving as the governor of Lagos Colony. In 1863, he chose several native Africans who used to be slaves grouping them into so-called Glover Hausas.
The first military force wasn’t big. It only counted 10-18 soldiers who helped their founder to guard local trade routes. However, this quickly changed. By 1865, the small organization grew so much, it was renamed first into Hausa Constabulary and then into Lagos Constabulary that was helping the colonial government to guard territory near Lagos and accomplishing army, police, and other tasks.
Nigerian Regiments (NR)
The next 40 years helped the army grow and become stronger. In the early 1900s, the name was changed again. The force was called Lagos Battalion and it consisted of different units under the WAFF and command of soldier Sir Frederick Lugard. WAFF was an abbreviation for the West African Frontier Force.
The foundation of WAFF united all the known units into two NR regiments:
Both big units of Nigerian armed forces helped with the country’s annexation by Lugard in 1901-1903.
The uniting of the country in 1914 also combined the regiments into four Battalions: the Northern NR consisted of the first and second Battalions and included field artillery and the Southern unit accounted the third and fourth divisions.
The next big changes took place in winter 1956. It was the time when Queen Elizabeth of Britain arrived to Nigeria. The Nigerian army got a new name that sounded as QONR (the abbreviation stands for Queens Own Nigerian Regiments).
Nigerian Army (NA)
Soon the West African Frontier Force was reorganized providing all the units within it full independence from each other.
Two years later from the Queen Elizabeth’s visit, the army was renamed into NMF which stood for the Nigerian Military Force. This military unit has been finally controlled by the Nigerian Government, ever since 1958.
The independence two years later once again renamed the Nigerian army from NMF into RNA (Royal Nigerian Army) and later into NA (Nigerian Army).
The long history of Nigerian army counts over 250 years. The modern green khaki uniform was introduced in 1960. The structure also changed that year from what used to be in WAFF into what Nigerian army is like today.
The President of Nigeria is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian armed forces that have over 100,000 officers and soldiers. The unit receives all the directions from the Army Council.