A Content Analysis of Required Factors for Attitudinal Change among Military Personnel in the Nigerian Army

By Samuel, Remi | Ife Psychologia, September 2015 | Go to article overview

A Content Analysis of Required Factors for Attitudinal Change among Military Personnel in the Nigerian Army


Samuel, Remi, Ife Psychologia


At the dawn of the third Republic in Nigeria in 1999 after the infamous military misadventures into succeeding military rule in Nigeria, the challenges that faced the Army as an institution were multifaceted. Particularly the image of the army was brushed, battered and as low as it could get in the public opinion within and outside Nigeria while the men and women in the Army were demoralized and the institution was in decay. The coup history that brought the succeeding military governments demonstrates the important shaping factor played by military coups, not only on the Nigerian Army's structure and capabilities but also the country's psyche. The omnipresent threat of military coups has hung like a cloud of paranoia in the halls of government and the army. While coups d'état are certainly not a phenomenon known only to Nigerians, coups have come to be seen as routine events in the lifespan of the average Nigeria citizen. They have decimated the ranks of the military, with Nigeria losing many of her brilliant officers to coups and countercoups. The losses came in many forms, from casualties during the initial fighting, execution by firing squad, imprisonment, or the less severe mandatory retirements. Part of the challenges of post military rule was how to build a Nigerian Arm Forces that imbibed professional ethics and subordinated to a civilian regime.

It was in the light of this that the Obasanjo led government conceived the attitudinal change project. The change dimensions therefore become an interesting subject, which was keenly followed by the general public as a means to sustain the nascent democracy and keep the army in their barracks. The on-going armed conflict with the Boko Haram, which openly dramatized the decays and professionalism level in the Army, makes this study timely and relevant. The basic question was not whether the attitudinal change was necessary or not or what dimension of change that was conceived by the political class and the top military officers [that led the change project] but what does change actually represented to the men and women in the armed forces? This is largely an area that has not received much attention in the commentaries while we are unaware of any detailed empirical study that attempt to explain the content of the change from the perspectives of military personnel in the Nigerian Army. This study is therefore designed to bridge this gap with the objective of creating alignment between policies and context of any existing attitudinal change project in the Nigerian Armed Forces.

A brief History of Nigerian Army

Although this is not a historical study of the Nigerian Army but a brief history of the institution is more probable to highlight the context of the attitudinal and professional issues in this study. First the nucleus of what stand today as Nigerian Army can be traced to the first unit established in 1862 by Captain John Glover called the Glover Hausas to defend Lagos. In 1888, the Royal Niger Company Constabulary was formed to protect the British interest in the Northern Nigeria while the third unit was created in 1891 named the Oil Rivers Irregulars but later designated the Niger Coast Constabulary which formed the Southern Regiment of the West African Frontier Force [WAFF]. It was not until 1914 that the two Regiments emerge as the Nigeria Regiment with the amalgamation of North and South as a country. In 1928 the WAFF was renamed the Royal West African Frontier Force [RWAFF] with active engagement in the prosecution of the Second World War. The Army was renamed Nigerian Army in 1956 [Dummar, 1989].

Although the Nigerian Army participated in many theatre of war across the world fighting along-side great armies and/or engage in peace keeping with them, the decline of professionalism began with the military misadventure to politics by its first coup in 1966 and the aftermath counter coups until when the last military government handed over power to a democratically elected government in 1999. …

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