In a major reversal of policy, the Nigerian Military is planning to end the admission of female cadets into the combatant course of Nigerian Defence Academy.
According to Punch Nigeria, the recommendation to put a stop to the program was made by the Armed Forces Council which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari last week.
The Nigerian Defense Academy, on its webpage has regular combatant course registered as a 5 year course which comprises of 4 years of academic program and a year of military training that equals to an award of a Bachelor’s Degree And a presidential commission to the rank of a second lieutenant or its equal in the Navy and Airforce. It was before exclusive to men until in September 2011, when the first set of females, nicknamed Jonathan Queens started training, as they were offered admission during the former President Good luck Jonathan’s administration.
The Recommendation 19 of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Armed Nigeria which reads: Phase out the training of female regular combatant cadets emphasizes the backward progressive steps taken by the nation.
It is, however, appalling to note that according to a serving general, that this decision was made due to the grievances made by some unnamed northern Muslim leaders. The General who pleaded anonymity with Punch correspondents as he was not authorized to speak on the issue, explained that while there are various commissions in the Army, it is only the Regular Combatants Commission that can allow an officer the opportunity to rise to become the Chief of Defence Staff or head any the services while other commissions have limited career path. This, therefore, indicates that if the program is scrapped, women can no longer attain a position of leadership in the arms of the Nigerian military.
While talks of female inclusion rise across the globe, it is quite unfortunate that Nigeria is going backwards. Women in Nigeria still face countless barriers and challenges in the family, school, and society; especially in the male-dominated defense and security sectors. Women continue to face prejudice and remain ignored, unacknowledged, and discouraged by a population that continues to give more value or priority to men. There has been passive female participation in jobs on national security and defence due to the contributing factors of perceptions, traditions, and culture that encompasses the Nigerian citizens.
It is saddening that Dear Mr. President does not realize that excluding women in defence related matters would be wrong, as women are directly involved in and sometimes victims of armed conflict, wars, therefore scraping the regular combatant program is like turning a bad eye to our sad realities.
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights and the Campaign for Democracy had called against the move, as they expressed the belief that the move was a violation of the fundamental human rights of womenfolk. The public should not view woman admission into Regular Combatant Commission as women’s desire for control or domination over men and resources, as it is obvious by the reactions of dissatisfied with the program and had lobbied with the military leaders to stop the program, forgetting that women’s involvement in security matters stem from their genuine commitment to contribute in helping develop security policy, the community, and the society.