“Block women from leading Nigerian military,” northern Muslim leaders tell Buhari

A group of unnamed northern Muslim leaders have told President Muhammadu Buhari women have no business leading the Nigerian Armed Forces, Punch is reporting.

There are various types of commissions in the military: Regular Combatant Commission, Short Service Combatant Commission, Direct Regular Commission, Direct Short Service and Executive Commission.

“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,” an unidentified general told the newspaper.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the military to admit women into the Regular Combatant Commission. Females who came through the programme are, despite allegedly having their achievements under-celebrated by the male hierarchy, reportedly winning awards and outshining their male counterparts.

President Buhari has inaugurated a committee which the army general said has recommended women be banned from pursuing that 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 serving general, who is apparently not okay with the reported recommended policy reversal, said.

He said northern Muslim leaders were behind the move which looks like something from Saudi Arabia where women weren’t even, until recently, allowed to drive and enter soccer stadiums. Critics say Islam treats women like second class humans. Muslim scholars disagree.

“The northern Muslim leaders want to prevent a situation where one day, a woman will lead the army and give orders to men,” the general 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,” he said.

There are fears President Buhari, who has openly said women belonged in the kitchen and in “the other room”, could approve the recommendation.

Civil society leaders say doing so would take Nigeria backwards in the global drive to ensure inclusiveness and gender equality.

But another military source told Punch the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) already commenced admission for 2018 and women were being allowed to follow any path they chose. The source said the recommendation would not stop those who get admitted in 2018.

The military was not immediately available for comments on this story.

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