Like most of the world’s militaries, the Nigerian Army has several ranks that denote a person’s seniority and experience in the service. Even if you’re not a member of the army, it’s essential to know the different ranks in the Nigerian Army to know how much you should respect that soldier.
In this article, we’ll go over the different military ranks in Nigerian Army, what they mean, and what a member of the Nigerian Army would need to attain them. Without more ado, let’s take a look at the military ranks in the Nigerian Army.
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Military Ranks in Nigerian Army
Before jumping into the different military ranks in Nigerian Army, it’s essential to understand the meaning of commissioned and non-commissioned officers and how they differ.
According to the official website of the Nigerian Army, commissioned officers are graduates of military academies and are all senior in rank to non-commissioned officers. For example, a graduate of the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) in Kaduna State begins service with a Second lieutenant rank, while an enlisted officer begins as a Recruit or Private.
Going by the descriptions on the Nigerian Army website, the non-commissioned officers are mostly assigned to combatant roles, while the commissioned officers hold leadership roles. Non-commissioned officers can lead their juniors, but they cannot lead commissioned officers.
It’s essential to note that a non-commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army can be promoted to a commissioned rank through a grant of concessional commission. For the uninitiated, concessional commission is a program that grants non-commissioned officers promotion to commissioned ranks like Captain without having to go through a military academy.
However, a concessional commission is a rare occurrence, and the formal way to become a commissioned officer is by completing a regular combatant course at a military academy. With these clarifications, we can now move into the military ranks in Nigerian Army for both commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
Non-Commissioned Military Ranks in Nigerian Army
A freshly-minted member of the Nigerian Army assumes the rank of Recruit or Private once they join, as they’re yet to undergo any formal or informal training. However, it’s essential to note that the Recruit rank applies only to non-commissioned officers; commissioned officers start from Second Lieutenant instead.
2. Lance Corporal
The Lance Corporal is the second lowest non-commissioned rank in the Nigerian Army, and soldiers are typically awarded the rank after five years of service as a Private soldier.
A corporal is senior in rank to a Lance Corporal but junior to the Sergeant. It’s the second highest rank among junior non-commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army, and corporals wear an insignia carrying two shoulder marks.
Sergeant is the most senior rank among junior non-commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army. Officers with this rank wear three shoulder marks and earn around N63,000 monthly.
5. Staff Sergeant
Staff Sergeant is the most junior rank among senior non-commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army with an average take-home pay of N68,000. Officers holding this rank wear three shoulder marks with a golden eagle at the top.
6. Warrant Officer (Company Sergeant Major)
Warrant Officer is the highest rank most non-commissioned officers will ever attain, as the most recent promotion exercise saw 419 officers promoted to the rank after 32 years of service. The criteria for becoming a Warrant Officer include spending at least 32 years in the Nigerian Army and taking written, oral, and medical tests, among others.
Warrant Officers in the Nigerian Army wear an insignia carrying a golden eagle surrounded by olive leaves.
7. Master Warrant Officer (Regimental Sergeant Major)
Master Warrant Officer, otherwise known as Regimental Sergeant Major, is also one of the most senior non-commissioned military ranks in Nigerian Army, ranking one step above Warrant Officer. Master Warrant Officers wear an insignia carrying the Nigerian Coat of Arms and earn around N90,000 monthly.
8. Army Warrant Officer (Sergeant Major of the Army)
An Army Warrant Officer, also known as a Sergeant Major of the Army, is the highest rank a non-commissioned officer can attain under normal circumstances. While it’s one of the most senior military ranks in Nigeria for non-commissioned officers, it’s essential to note that it’s still a lower rank than Second Lieutenant, the lowest for actual commissioned officers.
Commissioned Military Ranks in Nigerian Army
The preceding section only lists the non-commissioned military ranks in Nigeria for enlisted soldiers. Here’s the list of commissioned military ranks in Nigeria for officers that attended a military academy.
1. Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant is the most junior rank for commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army, and it’s the rank officers are assigned as soon as they complete the Regular Combatant Course from the Nigerian Defense Academy. The insignia for Second Lieutenants in the Nigerian Army is a single star and officers typically hold the rank for one year.
The lieutenant is the next rank after Second Lieutenant for commissioned officers, and members of the Nigerian Army typically attain it after one year of service (as a commissioned officer). The insignia is two six-pointed stars worn on either shoulder of the officer.
Captains in the Nigerian Army wear insignia with three stars, as it’s the highest rank for junior commissioned officers. Nigerian Army Captains command company-sized units and serve as instructors at military academies, earning a salary average of N220,000. Despite the several responsibilities and the attractive pay, Captain is still one of the junior military ranks in Nigerian Army.
The major is next in rank to the captain and is the most junior rank among senior officers in the Nigerian Army. Majors in the Nigerian Army wear an eagle in their insignia and earn around N300,000 monthly and despite the attractive salary, it’s still a junior commissioned officer rank. To be clear, however, a junior commissioned officer remains senior to a senior non-commissioned officer, regardless of experience.
5. Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant Colonel is also one of the junior military ranks in Nigerian Army for commissioned officers, but it’s a step higher than major and the pay is equally more attractive. Officers of this rank wear an eagle and a six-pointed star in their insignia and lead battalion-sized units, which comprise around 1,000 soldiers.
Colonel is one of the senior military ranks in Nigerian Army, just one step below the one-star general rank. They command regiments or assist Brigadier Generals to command brigades and wear two silver stars and a silver eagle as their insignia.
7. Brigadier General
Brigadier General is the lowest General rank, sometimes referred to as a one-star general. It’s one of the highest military ranks in Nigerian Army, and as the name implies, Brigadier Generals are generally in charge of brigades. Their insignia carries three silver stars arranged triangularly with a silver eagle standing on top.
8. Major General
Major General is the highest rank ever attained by former President Muhammadu Buhari, and is the second lowest general rank, only one step above the Brigadier General rank. It’s also the second-highest active rank in the Nigerian Army, so you’re looking at a lifetime of commitment for the faintest chance of achieving this rank.
Major Generals in the Nigerian Army wear an insignia with a crossed sword and a baton with an eagle standing on top.
9. Lieutenant General
The Lieutenant General is the second-highest rank anyone has ever held in the Nigerian Army and the highest active rank in service. Promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General generally only happens when an officer gets appointed as the Chief of Army Staff, but there have been a few exceptions to the rule.
A lieutenant general in the Nigerian Army wears an insignia carrying an eagle, a six-pointed star, and two crossed swords. Thanks to its elite status, there have only ever been 32 Lieutenant Generals in Nigeria’s history, including those that went on to become full Generals like Former President (and Head of State) Olusegun Obasanjo.
General is the highest rank ever attained by a Nigerian Army officer, and it’s often referred to as ‘Full General’ to prevent ambiguity with the other General ranks. Only twelve officers have attained the rank of General in the Nigerian Army history, including General Olusegun Obasanjo, General Sani Abacha, General Yakubu Gowon, and General Domkat Bali.
Yakubu Gowon became the first full General of the Nigerian Army shortly after the Nigerian Civil War. Some succeeding Nigerian heads of state also attained the rank, including Generals Murtala Muhammed, Ibrahim Babangida, and Olusegun Obasanjo.
Domkat Bali was the first officer to be promoted to the rank of full General without leading the country. After him, it became customary to promote all Chief of Defense Staff appointed from the Nigerian Army to the rank of full General. Generals in the Nigerian Army wear insignia with a crossed baton and a sword, two six-pointed stars, and an eagle.
11. Field Marshall
Field Marshall is the only rank in the Nigerian Army that has never been attained by a Nigerian, and it looks very much like the country isn’t interested in using it. At the moment, there’s no clear path to attaining the rank and it only exists for ceremonial reasons. The insignia is a crossed sword and a baton surrounded by two branches with an eagle standing atop.
How much is Nigerian Army monthly salary?
The average salary of a member of the Nigerian Army depends on their rank and appointment. Commissioned officers generally earn much more than non-commissioned officers, and your pay increases as you move up the ranks.
How much is Corporal salary?
Corporal is one of the lowest non-commissioned military ranks in Nigerian Army, and officers holding this rank earn N58,000 monthly. However, that amount is more representative of a non-commissioned officer’s salary; commissioned soldiers earn a lot more.
What rank in the army pays the most?
The average pay of an officer of the Nigerian Army increases with their rank, so you ideally want to become a Field Marshall to break the payment ceiling as an army officer. However, that’s fully theoretical; the practical way to earn high as a Nigerian Army officer is by attending a military academy and graduating as a commissioned officer.
Levelling up in the Nigerian Army is no easy task, and it’s even more difficult when you’re a non-commissioned officer. If you plan to move up the military ranks in Nigerian Army as quickly as possible, ensure you graduate from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and get as much formal military education as possible; that’s your only chance.
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