Nigeria Military - 2023


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Military and security forces

Nigerian Armed Forces: Army, Navy (includes Coast Guard), Air Force; Ministry of Interior: Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) (2023)

note 1: the NSCDC a paramilitary agency commissioned to assist the military in the management of threats to internal security, including attacks and natural disasters

note 2: the Office of the National Security Advisor is responsible for coordinating all security and enforcement agencies, including the Department of State Security (DSS), the NSCDC, the Ministry of Justice, and the NPF; border security responsibilities are shared among the NPF, the DSS, the NSCDC, Customs, Immigration, and the Nigerian military

note 3: some states have created local security forces in response to increased violence, insecurity, and criminality that have exceeded the response capacity of government security forces

Military expenditures

0.6% of GDP (2022 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

0.6% of GDP (2020 est.)

0.5% of GDP (2019 est.)

0.5% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 135,000 active-duty armed forces personnel (100,000 Army; 20,000 Navy/Coast Guard; 15,000 Air Force); approximately 80,000 Security and Civil Defense Corps (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory consists of a wide variety of imported weapons systems of Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, Russian (including Soviet-era), and US origin; the military is undergoing a considerable modernization program, and in recent years has received equipment from some 20 countries with China, Russia, and the US as the leading suppliers; Nigeria is also developing a defense-industry capacity, including small arms, armored personnel vehicles, and small-scale naval production (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-26 years of age for men and women for voluntary military service; no conscription (2022)

Military deployments

200 Ghana (ECOMIG) (2022)

note: Nigeria has committed an Army combat brigade (approximately 3,000 troops) to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), a regional counter-terrorism force comprised of troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger; MNJTF conducts operations against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups operating in the general area of the Lake Chad Basin and along Nigeria's northeast border; national MNJTF troop contingents are deployed within their own country territories, although cross‐border operations are conducted periodically

Military - note

the Nigerian military is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest and regarded as one of its most capable forces; the Army is organized into 8 divisions comprised of a diverse mix of more than 20 combat brigades, including airborne infantry, amphibious infantry, armor, artillery, light infantry, mechanized and motorized infantry, and special operations forces; there is also a presidential guard brigade; the Army typically organizes into battalion- and brigade-sized task forces for operations; the Air Force has a few squadrons of fighters, ground attack fighters, armed UAVs, and attack helicopter squadrons primarily for supporting the Army

the Army and Air Force are focused largely on internal security and face a number of challenges that have stretched their resources; the Army is deployed in all 36 of the country's states; in the northeast, it is conducting counterinsurgency/counterterrorist operations against the Boko Haram (BH) and Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in West Africa (ISIS-WA) terrorist groups, where it has deployed as many as 70,000 troops at times and jihadist-related violence has killed an estimated 35-40,000 people, mostly civilians, since 2009; in the northwest, it faces growing threats from criminal gangs--locally referred to as bandits--and violence associated with long-standing farmer-herder conflicts, as well as BH and ISIS-WA terrorists; bandits in the northwestern Nigeria are estimated to number in the low 10,000s and violence there has killed more than 10,000 people since the mid-2010s; the military also continues to protect the oil industry in the Niger Delta region against militants and criminal activity, although the levels of violence there have decreased in recent years; since 2021, additional troops and security forces have been deployed to eastern Nigeria to quell renewed agitation for a state of Biafra (Biafra seceded from Nigeria in the late 1960s, sparking a civil war that caused more than 1 million deaths)

meanwhile, the Navy is focused on security in the Gulf of Guinea; since 2016, it has developed a maritime strategy, boosted naval training and its naval presence in the Gulf, increased participation in regional maritime security efforts, and acquired a considerable number of new naval platforms, including offshore and coastal patrol craft, fast attack boats, and air assets; its principal surface ships currently include a frigate and 4 corvettes or offshore patrol ships

the Nigerian military traces its origins to the Nigeria Regiment of the West African Frontier Force (WAFF), a multi-regiment force formed by the British colonial office in 1900 to garrison the West African colonies of Nigeria (Lagos and the protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria), Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and Gambia; the WAFF served with distinction in both East and West Africa during World War I; in 1928, it received royal recognition and was re-named the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF); the RWAFF went on to serve in World War II as part of the British 81st and 82nd (West African) divisions in the East Africa and Burma campaigns; in 1956, the Nigeria Regiment of the RWAFF was renamed the Nigerian Military Forces (NMF) and in 1958, the colonial government of Nigeria took over control of the NMF from the British War Office; the Nigerian Armed Forces were established following independence in 1960 (2023)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reported no incidents in the territorial and offshore waters of Nigeria in 2022, down from six attacks in 2021; the offshore waters of the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea remain a very high risk for piracy and armed robbery of ships; past incidents have been reported where vessels were attacked and crews kidnapped; these incidents showed that the pirates / robbers in the area are well armed and violent; pirates have robbed vessels and kidnapped crews for ransom; in the past, product tankers were hijacked and cargo stolen; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2023-001 - Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 3 January 2023, which states in part, "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom continue to serve as significant threats to US-flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea"

NOTE: The information regarding Nigeria on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Nigeria 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Nigeria 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.