In a major policy reversal, the Nigerian military is set to end the admission of female cadets into the combatant course of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
A set of 20 females, nicknamed
Jonathan Queens. were first admitted into the course in Nigeria’s premier military officer training institution during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2011.
Accordingly, the recommendation to end the programme was made by the Armed Forces Council which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari last week who also ratified the National Defence Policy 2017 (Revised); Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017.
A serving general in the Nigerian Army who pleaded anonymity said the military took the decision due to complaints from some unnamed northern Muslim leaders. He explained that there were various types of commissions in the Armed Forces namely: Regular Combatant Commission, Short Service Combatant Commission, Direct Regular Commission, Direct Short Service and Executive Commission.
According to him, only the Regular Combatant Commission that can give an officer the opportunity to aspire to head any of the services or rise to become the Chief of Defence Staff, while the others have limited career path. If the military is able to scrap this programme, women will never be able to head any of the arms of the Nigerian military.
Incidentally, it was reported in 2013 that of the first 20 female cadets, only one Muslim, Fatimah Saleh, enlisted adding that some northern conservatives were not happy about it because most of the female cadets are either Christians from the South and northern minority groups or Muslims from the South and Middle Belt.
He revealed that many of the female cadets were outperforming their male colleagues, adding that their achievements were being suppressed by the military hierarchy maintaining that two of these female cadets beat their male counterparts to win placement at the United States Military Academy in West Point and they are doing well.
“It is unfortunate that while the western world and even other African nations are progressing, Nigeria is going backwards” , he said.