Authorities in Nigeria have put an end to recruitment of combatant female cadets into the nation’s military.
According to reports, the Armed Forces Councilmmade the recommendation to put an end to the programme which was initiated by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2011 due to poor performance of female cadets at the Nigerian Defense Academy.
This recommendation had been ratified by president Buhari along with the National Defence Policy 2017 (Revised); Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017.
According to The Punch, recommendation 19 of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of the Armed Forces of Nigeria read, “Phase out the training of female regular combatant cadets.”
According to a serving general that spoke to Punch, the decision was made in light of complaints that had been made by some northern Muslim leaders who were concerned about the likelihood of a woman achieving significant positions in the armed forces.
According to him, 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.
He told The Punch, “It is 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.
“The northern Muslim leaders want to prevent a situation where one day, a woman will lead the army and give orders to men.”
When former President Jonathan opened the doors to women in the country’s premier military officer training institution, 20 of them, nicknamed Jonathan Queens, had originally signed up with a 2013 report indicating that only one Muslim, Fatimah Saleh, enlisted.
The anonymous general that spoke to Punch noted that President Buhari must have agreed to the elimination of the programme because the results of the women’s performance since 2011 had been misrepresented.
According to him, the pioneering cadets had performed admirably well and even surpassed some of their male counterparts.
He said, “When we started the training of female cadets in 2011, we never thought it would be successful. When the first set of women cadets graduated from the academy last year, women won three awards, including the best award in the navy category.
“A female cadet, C. Lord-Mallam, won the Navy Gold award which is the highest in the navy category. The Army Silver award, which is the second highest in the army, went to a female cadet, K. O Dayo-Karim. The Air Force Silver award was also won by a female cadet, O. S Ijelu.
“However, 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.
“Dissatisfied with how things are turning out, the northern Muslim leaders lobbied the military authorities to stop the programme for women.
“I was informed that the women were trained just like the men were trained. They were not given any preferential treatment. 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.”
According to the general, even if the ban on female recruits is enforced, it won’t affect the NDA admission for 2018 as it has already begun receiving applications for the 70th regular course since October 20, 2017, with females eligible for selection.