Defence of a country is key and nearly all countries around the world have a dedicated ministry for the management of the Armed Forces. It may be called a different name elsewhere but in Nigeria, like most of the countries, it is cal the Federal Ministry of Defence.
The ministry is headed by a minister who is a political appointee of the president. Most times, someone who has a military background is appointed because of their knowledge about the internal mechanisms of the military.
But this isn’t a rule as we’ve seen Nigerian Presidents like Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan appointed defence ministers who had no military background.
The minister who plays the role of a coordinator is assisted by those who are experts in air, land, and water military capabilities.
Apart from advisers to the minister, there are also agencies or parastatal in the Federal Ministry of Defence headed by experts in their field who help the minister to optimally carry out their responsibilities.
As such, the agencies are divided into military and civilian components. The military components house the Defence headquarters, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Airforce, and the Nigerian Navy. They carry out military operations.
Apart from the agencies, there are 15 departments in Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence. Since defence is still under the exclusive list, no other state in Nigeria has a ministry for defence. States may have ministry of information, finance, and sports among others.
7 Core Mandates of Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence:
1) To provide administrative support to the Nigerian Armed Forces for them to be able to perform optimally at protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
2) Overseeing the welfare of members of the Armed Forces in a way not to dampen their morale when the time arises for them to defend the country or perform other security roles.
3) To defend the budget allocation of the ministry before the National Assembly.
4) To table before the president the military needs of the Armed Forces in terms of equipment, training, and allowances.
5) Making provision for the welfare of the men of the Armed Forces in terms of training, accommodation, health care, and other benefits aimed at boosting their morale.
6) To enhance the capability and sophistication of the country’s Defence Industries in order to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on foreign sources of supply.
7) To represent the interest of Nigeria in defence-related symposiums, workshop,s and seminar.
Agencies or Parastatal of Defence Ministry
According to the organogram of Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence, the structure outlines 13 agencies under the ministry, they are:
|Defence Parastatal||Year of Establishment||Core Mandate|
|Defence Headquarters||1958||To militarily coordinate the activities of Nigerian Armed Forces to enable them to discharge their responsibilities at protecting Nigeria’s territory against external aggression|
|Defence Intelligence School, Lagos||June 1986||To teach members of Armed Forces the basic knowledge of gathering intelligence for the protection of Nigeria|
|The Nigerian Army||1960||To wade off external aggression through the land borders|
|Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Asokoro, Abuja||June 6, 1986||To provide an efficient system of obtaining military intelligence for the Nigerian Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence.|
|The Nigeria Airforce||April 18, 1964||To protect Nigeria’s airspace|
|The Nigerian Navy||June 1, 1956||To protect Nigeria’s territorial integrity through the waterways.|
|Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC)||1982||To enable retiring members of the Armed Forces to integrate into civil society and enjoy post-service life.|
|National Defence College||1992||To train senior military officers in Nigeria in order to increase their capacity|
|Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna||1976||To produce operational-level military officers and ensure standardization of Staff Duties in the Nigerian Armed Forces.|
|Military Pension Board, Abuja||1975||To make provision for the welfare of retired military officers. To ensure that their pension and other emoluments are paid on time for a better life post-service|
|Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON)||1964||To manufacture defense equipment and civilian products in order to reduce importation and reliance on foreign-made military equipment|
|Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna||February 1964||It’s a military university to train military men and women in the act of defence.|
The departments under the ministry are:
- Human Resource Management Department
- Finance and Accounts Department
- Planning, Research and Statistics Department
- Procurement Department
- Legal Department
- Medical Services Department
- Joint Service Department
- Army Affairs Department
- Navy Affairs Department
- Airforce Department
- General Services Department
- Education Department
- Reforms Coordination and Services Improvement Department
- Press department
- Special Duties Department
Challenges of Nigeria’s Defence
While the efforts of the members of Nigeria’s Armed Forces should be appreciated for always taking deadly risks at protecting Nigerians and the integrity of the country day and night, they need to do more.
For instance, one of the agencies, Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria, saddled with the responsibility of producing military equipment is manufacturing 1990s equipment that has been overtaken by technology.
In October 2021, UK-based News Magazine, The Economist, boldly says in its report that Nigeria military is only big on papers, alleged that soldiers sell weapons to Boko Haram members, it was refuted by Nigerian authority. But foreign investors may be discouraged at investing in Nigeria considering similar allegations that have been leveled against some of the members of the military. The former Chadian president Idriss Déby made a similar allegation in April 2020, when accused the Nigerian troops of releasing captured Boko Haram fighters.
It’s inexplicably ridiculous how members of Boko Haram overrun military bases in Nigeria several times killing several soldiers. It is also sad that since the insurgency in the Northeast over a decade ago, the government has been unable to make public names of sponsors of Boko Haram while a faraway country like the United Arab Emirates was able to track such sponsors in their country as their place of abode.
Several findings have shown that the activities of Nigeria’s Defence have been politicised which is affecting the military effectiveness of the members of the Armed Forces. The politician should allow the military to carry out their job without interference.