By H. B. Momoh
The development of the Nigerian Armed Forces is closely linked with the history of the political entity known as Nigeria today. Dating back to the first contact between the adventurist Europeans and the mutually exclusive traditional kingdoms of West Africa, the armed forces has undergone profound developments from its rudimentary stages in the mid 19th century to the highly organised and sophisticated armed forces we know today.
The oldest arm of the armed forces is, of course, the Nigerian Army, which has a long history dating back to 1863 when Lt. Glover of the Royal Navy formed the very first force of 18 selected locals which became known as "Glover Hausas." Over five decades, the Glover Hausas transformed into the Nigerian Regiment with the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Lord Lugard in 1914. The Nigerian Navy came much later in 1958, while the Nigerian Airforce was established by an act of Pari lament in1964.
While the three arms developed in stages and along lines peculiar to them by virtue of their different areas of specialisation, the opportunity was afforded them in 1967, with the onset of the civil war, to really operate together as a body. This was the litmus test for the Nigerian Armed Forces and with the benefit of hindsight, it could be said that they performed creditably given the prevailing cir cumstances.
Since then, the armed forces has undergone structural and operational changes which were geared towards the achievement of professionalism, though these had been punctuated by military incursions into politics and governance.