Nigeria Defence Forces
By Michiel Vermeer & Erwin van Dijkman
The federation of Nigeria was formed in the late fifties. Nigeria gained independence from Britain 1 October 1960 and faced the task of uniting its peoples, the Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Joruba. Each already had a movement or certain degree of organization, literally crossing the borders of the federal states that were formed. Not surpisingly this caused internal troubles, especially north versus south Nigerian tensions mounted and although the North provided the prime-minister and the president came from the south this could not last long. This construction stayed in place until the 1964 elections sparked some unrest exarbated by allegations of corruption. The regional elections that followed in 1965 sparked it, the Igbo were sidelined and before long they staged a coup d'Etat, killing many government officials from the north and west. The coup did not succeed but led to a mutual understanding and a military government was installed early 1966. Because the Igbo were over-represented, that rule did not last for a year and in July 1966, the Hausa organized a counter-coup. As a result many Igbo were killed in tribal incidents and many fled to the south east, back to their tribal areas.
Because the federal government apparently could not guarantee their safety, the eastern state unilaterally declared independence as Biafra on 30 May 1967. What followed was three years of civil war and atrocities, weapon-trafficking, and a march of the federal army at the Igbo to regain control over this oil-rich area of Nigeria. In the eind, 15 January 1970 Biafra surrendered and was brought under federal rul again, foreclosing Igbo from many government positions. The seventies saw several coups again, being president of this potentially rich country divided by tribes and different religious backgrounds is not an easy tasks and it took some decades to gain some sort of stability. Since late last century and during the first decade of the millennium, many northern provinces introduced strict Sharia-law. Elections in 2003 in 2007 would not pass our western norms of fair elections and many violent incidents occurred. However, the 2007 elections marked the first time a second incumbency of government was formed after regular elections.
Nigeria Air Force
Being one of the larger and richer countries in Africa, the armed forces are relatively large and well-equipped. The air force was established in April 1964 but recruitment and training of the first cadets already started in 1962, albeit abroad. The German Air Force was assisting the fledgling air force when the civil war over Biafra started. NAF hastily acquired some MiG-15 and MiG-17 to fight against the uprising in the south east, speeding up the surrender of the Biafrans no doubt. The seventies saw the true start and many modern western aircraft types were acquired. Particpation in several UN-missions, coastal aptrol, air defence and troop-transport are some of the tasks. Because NAF trains its own pilots, three Flying Training Schools were formed. Therefore, the Nigerian Air Force has a wide variety of aircraft types to cope with all these tasks. Most modern are th Chinese-supplied F-7NI fighters, AgustaWestland AW109 and AW139 helicopters and ATR42 patrol aircraft.
To defend its important coastal cities and combat oil-looting and piracy, the Nigerian Navy needed more than just ships. Helicopters were acquired and a naval aviation unit, 101st squadron, was formed in 1985. The first weapon of choice was the Sea Lynx Mk90, three of which were delivered late 1983. This was followed by a single AS365N Dauphin obtained from a contractor and A109E helicopters. The distinctive dark blue and white helicopters operated from two naval statiuons and the NN ships.
Nigeria Police Force
The Nigerian Police is not part of the Armed Forces. Having had a some helicopters since the 1990s, there was a long-standing requirement for more helicopters to be able to support the police throughout the vast country. This wish was only recently met when the president pledged, to supply every single one of the 36 state police commands with its own helicopter.