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.