Nigeria Table of Contents
The civil war and extended periods of military rule created conditions that sustained the military's rising claims on national resources. There were few opponents of defense spending, given increasing national security challenges and Nigeria's selfimage as regional leader and power broker. The main reason for the sharp rise in defense spending in the 1970s was the large postwar military establishment and the associated costs of foreign arms procurement, military housing construction, substantial salary increases, expansion of the officer corps, and the retirements and self-promotions after the 1975 coup.
During the civil war, Nigeria's armed forces, arms imports, and defense spending swelled, and military personnel levels were maintained at between 200,000 and 300,000 until the late 1970s. Defense spending as a percentage of total federal spending surged from about 6 percent before the war to 43 percent in the last year of the conflict. It remained high--34 percent during 1970-71 and about 20 percent from 1971 to 1974--before beginning a downward trend that continued through the 1980s. The 1970s also featured rapid economic expansion and budget growth driven by oil exports. As a result, absolute levels of military spending rose substantially during peacetime even though the level declined relative to available resources. According to some analysts, such "militarization" led to declining gross national product (GNP-- see Glossary), to increasing inflation, and to an unfavorable balance of trade (see Foreign Trade and Balance of Payments , ch. 3).
In comparative global terms, however, Nigeria's level of "militarization" was remarkably low and had been decreasing since the mid-1970s. According to a survey of 144 countries compiled by the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Nigeria's ranking on five key measures of "militarization" declined sharply between 1975 and 1985. Nigeria's average global ranking on indicators of "military buildup" (armed forces per 1,000 population and the ratios of military expenditure to GNP, central government expenditure, population, and armed forces) fell from 47 in 1975, to 88 in 1980, and to 118 in 1985.
The steep downward trends in defense expenditure were apparent across the board. Military spending plunged precipitously from US$906 million to US$180 million (in constant 1987 dollars) between 1977 and 1987--an astounding reduction of 80 percent. Relative to GNP, military spending dropped steadily from 3.5 percent to less that 1 percent in 1987, while as a portion of total government expenditure it fell from more than 14 percent to 2.7 percent in 1987. The value of arms imports (measured in constant 1987 dollars) averaged US$93 million annually between 1977 and 1980, surged to an average of US$434 million annually between 1981 and 1984, dropped to about US$340 million during 1985-86, and fell to US$60 million in 1987. Likewise, the armed personnel numbers forces declined from 3.7 per 1,000 persons in 1977 to 1.3 in 1987.
Defense spending in 1988 and 1989 was about N1.3 billion and N1.7 billion, but high inflation reduced its real value by at least 30 percent. Capital expenditure nominally trebled, from N256.6 million in 1986 and 1987 to N750 million in 1988 and 1989. This increase reflected new investments in equipment, construction, and other long-term capital improvements, although at levels substantially lower than in the early 1980s. The N2.1 billion defense budget for 1990, however, represented a real growth of 16 percent over 1989.
As in most Third World states, Nigeria's military spending was dedicated largely to recurrent costs of salaries, allowances, training, and other personnel-related overhead expenses. Such operating costs ranged from 55 to 88 percent of the defense budget almost every year since independence. General Staff Headquarters, which operated under a separate account budgeted at N35 to N55 million annually between 1984 and 1987, received N124 million in 1988. The pattern of defense spending during the period 1988-90, particularly the increases in capital investment and equipment procurement relative to personnel-related expenditures, reflected in part determined efforts to modernize and to upgrade capabilities and readiness while completing demobilization. It also represented the military's last opportunities to attend to defense needs on its own terms, in anticipation that the Third Republic might be less generous in allocating scarce budgetary and foreign exchange resources to the armed forces.
Data as of June 1991
Nigeria Table of Contents