President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan yesterday made history when he ordered that henceforth, females interested in becoming combatant officers for the Nigerian armed forces should be admitted into the Nigeria Defence Academy.
Minister of Defence, Adetokumbo Kayode who made the disclosure at a media briefing in Abuja, said, though the issue had been under consideration by the military high command for sometime, President Jonathan took the decision to start it immediately because it is the right thing adding that “Other countries in Africa are already doing it and they are not better than us”.
“Presently, we have female armoured tank drivers, female Para-troopers, Jumpers, and so on. We will follow international best practices in this regards. We want to have strong, virile armed forces devoid of discrimination”.
Expatiating on the new directive, the minister said, “As you are all aware, the Nigerian Armed forces had always had opening for female officers. However, these have always been limited to non combat duties thereby limiting their career path irrespective of their competence or skill”.
“To redress this obvious anomaly and in line with conviction of the President that every Nigerian irrespective of Gender or any affiliation should be given equal opportunity to excel in his or her chosen field of life, Mr. President has directed the immediate enlistment and training of female regular combatant commission officers into the Nigerian armed forces”.
“The training of the female regular combatant cadets along with their male counterparts will be at the NDA, Kaduna where they will pass out with a degree in a chosen academic field and a regular combatant commission into the Nigerian Armed forces”.
The minister continued, “As you might already know, we have various types of commission in the armed forces namely; Regular Combatant Commission, Short Service Combatant Commission, Direct Regular Commission, Direct Short Service and Executive Commission. Of all these types of commissions, 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”.
“It is in this consideration that the Presidential directive was given in other to provide the female officers the same opportunity of rising to the pinnacle of their profession. This directive is also aimed at providing women, career opportunities that would allow them to compete with their male counterparts for the highest offices in the military”.
“The female regular combatant officers will therefore have the opportunity, as their male counterparts, to command major units of the army, fly fighter jets of the Airforce and to be seamen officers who could command a combat going vessel of the Nigerian Navy”, the minister said.
Reacting to a question, he said, “there will be no discrimination with regard to training. The same standard will be applied to both male and female intakes. There will no gender issues involved as it will be strictly be in compliance with NDA statutes”.