The NIgerian Civil War Years

Posted by on 10/27/2002 2:49:38 PM
Post Comment The NIgerian Civil War Years Nigeria


Lt Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu
Lt Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu
- N/3
Former Military Governor of the Eastern Region (1966-1967) and Head of State of the defunct "Republic of Biafra" (1967-70)

The period from 1966 to 1970 was a watershed in the evolution and development of the amied forces. By the outbreak of the civil war in July 1967, the cohesion and integrity of the armed forces had been torn to shreds and the armed forces lacked sufficient weaponry and experience to prosecute such a large scale conflict. The army lacked heavy weapons and other relevant equipment to prose cute the war. The navy was in no position to defend Nigeria's coastal waters, interdict communications or execute any effective blockade of the Eastern shores. The airforce, on the other hand, went to war with ineffective, inconsequential and slow moving trainer aircraft that was in no position to provide any form of air support for ground forces either in terms of air intelligence, transport or medical evacuation. At the onset of the civil war, therefore, the Nigerian armed forces was ill trained and ill prepared to undertake the arduous task of keeping Nigeria one.

Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu
Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu - N/3
He led the first military coup d'etat in Nigeria on 15 January 1966. This singular action transformed the nature and role of the Nigerian Armed forces.

However, during the war years, the armed forces increased phenomenaliy both in human and material resources. The army increased from a mere 8,000 men to 250,000 by the end of the war, while the Navy increased from a puny 500 men to 5,000 in 1970. There was massive acquisition of armaments in all three arms of the military. Modern warplanes were acquired from Russia. The opera tional capability of the armed forces thus increased tremendously during the war years.

At this time, the Nigerian government became preoccupied with the transformation of the military from the colonial relic It had been to a modem force. With great determination, this difficult goal was achieved. An effective national armed forces was created which rendered various important services to the country especially in internal security duties. As a member of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity, the Nigerian armed forces, the army in particular, contributed units for peacekeeping operations in Congo (1960 1964) and in Tanganyika (Tanzania) In 1964. The civil war offered the forces the first opportunity to operate jointly to achieve a national goal. Consequently, the National Defence And Internal Security armed forces emerged from the war as a more unified and homogenous institution.

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