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Nigeria - Ministry of Defence

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan replaced his chief of defense and the heads of the country's army, navy and air force on January 16, 2014. A statement gave no reason for the sweeping overhaul. The move comes as Nigeria struggled with a four-and-a-half-year insurgency by the militant group Boko Haram. Jonathan was also dealing with major defections from the ruling People's Democratic Party, one year ahead of elections. The president tapped Air Marshal Alex Badeh as the new chief of defense staff, replacing Admiral Ola Sa'ad Ibrahim. Major General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Mimimah was the new chief of army staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin took over the navy, and Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu became the new head of the air force.

Leadership of the Nigerian military is personality-driven, from the President through the officer corps. Senior leaders rarely delegate decision-making authority and the "transmission lines" from these power centers are often weak and erratic, frequently leading to a failure by subordinate leaders to implement decisions made by their leadership. DHQ is widely viewed as the "second team." Many of the officers who fill positions there are second string officers and enlisted men. The star performers are more often found in their service headquarters or in operational assignments. The idea of "managing up" does not seem to exist in the Nigerian military. "With these guys, seniority is a cult" is the way one observer described this relationship.

Nevertheless, the Nigerian Armed Forces, particularly the Army, retains its role as the bulwark against Nigerian anarchy. It is the nation's one indispensable institution, committed to Nigerian unity and sovereign survival -- a role military leaders revel in and brag about. The Armed Forces is also arguably Nigeria's most effective national institution. The leadership of the Armed Forces, at the highest levels, consistently makes public statements supporting civilian control of the military, and recognizing the military's appropriate role in a democracy. The senior leadership seems to understand the penalties that would result if the military should "misbehave" again.

The Ministry of Defence came into being in April 1958, two years before independence from Great Britain, when the War Office granted control of the armed forces to the national government. Upon its creation, the ministry was given responsibility over the two branches of the military in existence at that time the army and the navy and today also oversees the command of the Nigerian Air Force, founded in 1964.

Despite a history of military intervention in civilian government since the nation won independence, the Nigerian military has been involved in the national development and peace keeping, both domestically and regionally. In the interest of national unity, the Nigerian military has provided assistance to civil authorities and helped prevent and repel external aggressions on numerous occasions.

Under the Fourth Republic, in 2002 the Ministry was headed by Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (Rtd). The Minister of Defence appointed in May 1999 by President Olusegun Obasanjo. The ambitious goal of the defence ministry, and a vital one for continued democratic rule in Nigeria, is to reposition the military to fulfil its constitutional role as the defender of the elected regime and guarantor of sovereignty.

In addition to the formation and execution of defence policy, and the management of military emergencies, the ministry of Defence has a twofold mission. Nationally, it must ensure combat readiness of forces to guarantee internal and national security; provide for the welfare of personnel; and enhance and develop the defence industries to reduce dependence on imports and create the potential for export production. Globally, the ministry is active in pan-African security through collective defence agreements, and provides peacekeeping forces to areas under the mandate of the United Nations.

The United States has worked to help Nigeria improve the professionalism of its military, the military's respect for human rights and all Nigerians' appreciation and support for civilian rule. The US Congress restricted military aid to Nigeria in response to the massacre of approximately 200 civilians in Benue State in 2001 by the Nigerian army. The United States sponsored a Defense Institute of International Legal Studies seminar for Nigerian military and civilian leaders with a focus on human rights, international law, rules of engagement and civilian control of the military. The United States continued to sponsor a high-level program at the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to teach proper civil-military relations and assist in the reorganization of the MOD.

When President Obasanjo came to office in 1999, he did not appoint a defense minister, preferring to personally handle those responsibilities. He did eventually appoint a minister, though both the Minister and the Ministry remain largely irrelevant. The uniformed services openly expressed their contempt and disregard for the Ministry.

The Nigerian Federal Executive Council announced a reorganization of federal ministries and parastatals on 13 December 2006. Some ministries were eliminated, some merged, and responsibilities moved. Only seven of the existing twenty-seven ministries are not affected by the reorganization. They include the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Justice.

National Defence CollegeThe National Defence College is the apex military training institution for the Nigerian Armed Forces, and a Centre of Excellence for peace support operations training at the strategic level in West Africa. The National Defence College (NDC) was established in 1992 as the highest military institution for the training of senior military officers in Nigeria. Since the Nigerian Armed Forces had long established a strong tri-service military training heritage with the establishment of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, for cadet training, and the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji, for middle level staff training, it was appropriate and cost effective to continue the tradition by establishing the new strategic level military institution, the National Defence College, on a tri-service basis.

The NDC started operating from a temporary site at the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs building at the Marina, Lagos. In August, 1995, the College was moved from Lagos to Abuja (the new Federal Capital), to yet another temporary site located at Herbert Macaulay Way (North), adjacent to the prestigious International Conference Centre. The permanent site is at the Jabi District of the Federal Capital Territory. The then Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha, inaugurated the NWC Course 4 on 14 September, 1995, to herald the movement of the College to its new temporary site. Plans are underway to relocate the College finally to its permanent site in Jabi District of Abuja.

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Page last modified: 16-01-2014 19:29:22 ZULU