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Nigeria Table of Contents




General Babangida and senior armed forces officers overseeing Exercise Fast Strike
Courtesy Embassy of Nigeria, Washington

Nigeria boasted comprehensive and almost completely indigenized professional military training institutions, including the national triservice Nigerian Military University, the Command and Staff College, and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies. In addition, each service maintained extensive training programs for its own needs.

The central pillar of the military training establishment was the Nigerian Military University. Founded in 1964 in Kaduna as the Nigerian Defence Academy, this unique academy for regular commissioned officer candidates in 1983 had a staff of about 1,100. The academy was upgraded and redesignated as the national Nigerian Military University in 1985 and awarded its first degrees in September 1988. By 1989 it had trained about 5,300 officers, including 300 from other countries. In a message to the 104 graduating officers in September 1990, President Babangida announced that the academy would be moved to a permanent site by mid-1992. For prospective army officers, the academy offered a two-and-a-half-year program leading to commissions as second lieutenants. Naval and air force cadets attended an eighteen- month joint training program, after which successful candidates advanced to specialized training with their chosen service before commissioning. During the 1970s, to meet the demand for officers the academy also offered a six-month short service commission course for army and air force personnel selected from the ranks. In June 1980, President Shagari announced plans to establish both a naval and an air force academy, but as of 1990 they had not been implemented.

The need for both a national defense academy and a command and staff college was occasioned by the manpower explosion during the civil war, the acute shortage of officers, the poor quality of professional training, and the diversity of foreign training experiences. In 1975 the Nigerian army sought assistance from Britain in establishing a staff college at Jaji, near Kaduna, the site of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry. The college opened in May 1976 with two senior officers' courses lasting five and one-half months, with a curriculum derived from the British Army Staff College at Camberley but specially tailored to Nigerian circumstances and needs. The first course had forty army officers, and the second fifty officers, including two each from the navy and air force.

Concurrently, planning proceeded for an eleven-month course for field-grade officers, which began in September 1977 with 70 officers; this course was increased to the planned 100 the next year. This five-term course covered staff duties, organizations, and logistics; operational staff duties, command, and intelligence; basic tactics; training and counterrevolutionary warfare; advanced counterrevolutionary warfare; and other general subjects. Students from Guyana, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania also attended the 1978 course, by which time air and naval wings had been formed.

The junior division of the Army Command and Staff College for senior lieutenants and junior captains opened in April 1978 (it was renamed the Command and Staff College later in 1978). Four ten-week courses were offered annually, initially with thirty students but later increased to forty. By 1987 the course had expanded to eighteen weeks and was run generally along the lines of the junior division of the British Staff College at Warminster. Also at Jaji was a Demonstration Battalion, the Army School of Artillery, and armor support from a composite armored battalion in Kaduna.

The air faculty opened with twenty students in September 1978, the same year the NAF set up a junior division at the air base in Kaduna. At that time, the joint service nature of the college at Jaji resulted in its being redesignated the Command and Staff College. The navy faculty was established in September 1981 with twelve students, and in August 1984 a junior navy division was set up with assistance from the British Royal Navy. The transfer of the junior air faculty from Kaduna to Jaji completed the process of expansion and consolidation of this unique full-fledged staff college, with junior and senior divisions of all three services at the same campus.

In addition to technical military training, the Command and Staff College increased attention to internal security and aid to the civil authority. Students and instructors from the Police Staff College at Jos, Nigerian Prison Service officers, and senior Ministry of Defence civil servants joined the army senior division. Jaji also attracted officers from other African states. Students from Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe regularly attended, and the first Botswanan officers attended the 1986-87 course. In 1986 it was decided that the training program would be fully indigenized. Henceforth, contracts with expatriate staff were not renewed, and foreign faculty members were accepted only on an exchange basis. At that time, there were forty-seven directing staff--thirty-eight Nigerian, seven British, and two Ghanaian, the latter under a long-standing exchange program. By 1986, 1,172 officers had graduated from Jaji's senior divisions, and 1,320 from the junior divisions.

Each service also operated its own training institutions and facilities. The army's Training and Doctrine Command, based at Minna, had overall responsibility for developing, conducting, and evaluating army training and doctrine. It was organized into six directorates and two departments with sixteen training schools, including infantry, intelligence, signals, airborne, and amphibious warfare. Since 1985 it has used the United States- designed Systems Approach to Training, under which each of the army's four divisions prepared and conducted a comprehensive annual training program.

The multiprogram Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI) was the largest single-service school. In late 1988, it was announced that 5,040 officers and soldiers and 13 NAF officers had completed instruction at NASI during the previous three years; other graduates includes 146 police, 2 civilians from the DIC, and 145 military personnel from other African countries, mainly Zimbabwe. The number of officers in the various courses in 1988 was 273 airborne, 376 young officers course, 112 range management course, 67 quartermaster and direct short commission, 75 company commanders course, 15 unit sappers, and 23 mortar platoon.

The navy's schools for officer and basic seamanship technical training were at the training complex at NNS Quorra, where the curriculum included navigation, diving, communications, and gunnery. Officer training at the Nigerian Naval College, Onura, entailed a two-year military and academic program followed by two years' shipboard and operational experience before commissioning as sublieutenants. The last class of forty-five midshipmen graduated in July 1990, after which the Nigerian Military University took over officers' training.

The Naval Training Command, established in November 1986, included several major subordinate facilities: NNS Onura and NNS Akaso near Port Harcourt; NNS Quorra at Apapa; the Diving School at Navytown in Ojo; the Navy Technical Training Centre, Sapele; the Dockyard Apprentice School near Lagos; and the NNS Logistic Centre. The navy relied primarily on West German and British firms to help establish its technical and professional schools. A new Underwater Warfare School, built by Dornier of Germany, opened in 1990 with more than 600 students. In late 1989, plans to set up a naval military school were still delayed by budgetary limitations, but officer training cooperation was being explored with India. By 1990 about 85 percent of naval training had been localized, resulting in annual savings of N100 million.

For its part, the NAF Training Command operated three flying schools offering comprehensive flight, armaments, helicopter, and paratrooper training, and a Technical Training Group (TTG). The air force had specialized schools for such subjects as primary and advanced flying, helicopter weapons, and tactical training. Primary flight training was conducted at the 301 Flying Training School at the Nigerian air base in Kaduna, under the air force Tactical Training Group. British Bulldogs were the primary trainers, and Aermacchi MB-339ANs were used for basic and advanced flight training. In July 1989, the Student Pilot School graduated eleven of the fourteen candidates who started the course. Since its inception in 1964, more than 600 pilots from the NAF and from other African countries have graduated. In 1987 the Tactical Air Command at Makurdi acquired sophisticated British Aerospace flight simulators to reduce accidental crashes. When fully operational, the NAF helicopter training school at Enugu also planned to train pilots from other African countries.

The TTG at Kaduna comprised officers' schools for engineering, logistics management, communication and electronics, air management, and aircraft maintenance. Its modern aircraft training and maintenance support equipment included electroplating shops, a heat-treatment laboratory, and forging and welding shops, and permitted the NAF to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency. In 1987 the NAF ceased aircraft maintenance training abroad and began to set up an armament engineering department. The TTG fabricated nearly all the spare parts and components used to maintain the NAF's equipment; by then about 80 percent of NAF training was done locally. In 1989 it was announced that the TTG would be affiliated with the Nigerian Military University in Kaduna and redesignated the NAF Institute of Technology. Comparable to university-level colleges of technology, the new institute would offer degree programs and train air force personnel in automotive and aircraft trades and weapon services.

Finally, the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies at Kuru, near Jos, afforded senior officers an opportunity to study and to reflect on domestic and international security affairs. Its programs were similar to those of senior service schools and "war colleges" in other countries. A separate national defense institute was reported to be in planning in 1990.

Data as of June 1991

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Nigeria Table of Contents