Nigerian Army ranks, symbols and insignia: Top facts and details

Nigerian Army ranks, symbols and insignia: Top facts and details

Nigerian military is a respectable establishment that protects Nigerian citizens. Becoming an armed forces member is a dignifying goal for anyone who wants to serve their country. If you want to know more about the Nigerian military, and specifically the Nigerian Army, check out this article on the Nigerian Army ranks and symbols. That way, you will know what to aim for!

Nigerian Army
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Before we jump into the topic of Nigerian army ranks, let’s take a second to talk about the Nigerian military in general. It took its current form in 1960, the same year that Nigeria was granted independence. The military is responsible for protecting Nigerian citizens from internal and external threats and maintaining the structural integrity of the country.

The structure of Nigerian military

Nigerian Armed Forces are divided into three service branches:

  1. Nigerian Army, which is responsible for maintaining peace on the land, enforcing the law and controlling the humanitarian missions;
  2. Nigerian Navy, which operates in the open waters to assure the security of the country and offer rescue if necessary;
  3. Nigerian Airforce, which provides air support, cargo transportation and other air missions.

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However, today we will only talk about the Nigerian army symbols and the army ranks in Nigeria. Learn all about the ranks in the Nigerian army now.

Nigerian Army ranks and insignia

Nigerian Army has a very defined rank structure, where every position has its own meaning, status and signs. Just by looking at a person’s uniform, you can tell who they are and what they do (and even how much they earn).

Nigerian army ranks for non-commissioned officers

So here is the list of ranks in the Nigerian army for non-commissioned officers:

Nigerian Army ranks and symbols
Nigerian army ranks for non-commissioned officers. Photo: @RecruitmentNew3
  1. Let’s begin with the lowest rank, which is Recruit/Trainee. This rank is for those who have just joined the army and are currently on the lowest level of hierarchy there is. Usually, recruits have no insignia, while trainees might have one shoulder mark.
  2. Next is the Lance Corporal. It is slightly higher than the recruit/trainee, but it is still the lowest officer rank. Lance Corporals also have one shoulder mark.
  3. Then comes the Corporal. A person in this position is responsible for a troop’s body. Corporals have two shoulder marks.
  4. Sergeant is the rank that comes next. This is a junior non-commissioned officer. Sergeants have three shoulder marks.
  5. The position that is above the Sergeant is the Staff Sergeant. It is a senior non-commissioned rank of the Nigerian Army. Staff Sergeants have three shoulder marks and a golden eagle on top.
  6. The next rank is Warrant Officer/Sergeant First Class. Its insignia is the golden eagle surrounded by the matching golden crown made of olive leaves. Warrant Officers are assistants of our next rank, which is…
  7. Master Warrant Officer/Master Sergeant. Officers of this rank are responsible for military equipment. The insignia of the Master Warrant Officer/Master Sergeant is the Nigerian Coat Of Arms, where the horses are silver and the rest is golden. This concludes the non-commissioned ranks.

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Nigerian army ranks for commissioned officers

That is it for the ranks in the Nigerian army for commissioned officers.

Nigerian Army ranks and symbols
Nigerian army ranks for commissioned officers. Photo: @RecruitmentNew
  1. The first rank from the officer hierarchy is (ironically) the Second Lieutenant. The word ‘lieutenant’ actually means ‘substitute’. Lieutenants have one silver star on each of their shoulders. And by ‘star’ we mean a six-pointed star, which is implied in the rest of the explanations.
  2. Higher up is the First Lieutenant. These officers have two vertically aligned silver stars on their shoulders. First Lieutenants are the deputies of the …
  3. Captain. This is the highest rank among the tactical troop organisation. Captains have three vertically aligned silver stars on their shoulders.
  4. The next rank is Major, which is the lowest field officer rank in the Nigerian Army. Majors have a silver eagle on each shoulder.
  5. After that comes the Lieutenant Colonel. It is a mid-level rank among the field officers. Lieutenant Colonels have vertically aligned silver star and a silver eagle on each shoulder. These officers are deputies to the …
  6. Colonel. These officers are at the top of the field officer hierarchy and at the bottom of the commissioned officer hierarchy. They are responsible for the regiments. Colonels have two silver stars and a silver eagle (all vertically aligned) on each shoulder.
  7. Then comes the Brigadier general. These officers are responsible for commanding brigades. Brigadiers have three silver stars that form a triangle with a silver eagle on top. This arrangement goes on both shoulders (obviously).
  8. The next mid-level commissioned officer rank is the Major General. Major Generals have a golden emblem of the crossed sword and baton below a golden eagle on each shoulder.
  9. The third highest rank in the Nigerian Army is the Lieutenant General. These officers have the vertically aligned emblem of the crossed sword and baton, a star and an eagle, all in gold and on both shoulders.
  10. The second highest rank, which, on practice, is the highest rank in the Nigerian Army is the General. The General has vertically aligned crossed sword and baton, two stars and the eagle, all in gold and on both shoulders.
  11. At the top of the whole Nigerian Army resides the unattainable rank of the Army Field Marshal/General of the Army. So far, nobody has claimed this spot, which is why General is currently the highest rank in Nigerian Army. Army Field Marshal has an emblem of the crossed sword and baton surrounded by two branches and with an eagle on top, all in gold and on both shoulders.

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Nigerian Army ranks and symbols
Nigerian army ranks for commissioned officers. Photo: @RecruitmentNew

Like all the other service branches, Nigerian Army has its own flag, which actually has a deep meaning behind the symbols that it carries. As you can see from the picture above, it has an eagle on top of a shaded six-pointed star with Arabic writing on the red-black-red backdrop.

What does the Nigerian Army flag mean?

Nigerian Army ranks and symbols
Nigerian Army flag. Photo: Kypros
Source: Twitter

So what does it all mean?

  • The eagle stands for the grace and power of the army. Similar to an eagle, the army keeps watch in times of peace and strikes the enemies with frightening precision in times of war.
  • The star represents the unity of Nigeria, and it was actually created all the way back in 1914. What seems like a shadow is actually a black star merged with the yellow one. The two stars stand for the Southern and Northern Protectorates that were united in order to create Nigeria.
  • The writing in Arabic is the motto of the Nigerian Army, which is ‘Victory comes from God alone’.
  • The red stands for the enemy forces, and it is customary in NATO to use this colour in the military elements. The black stands for the cavalry and other troops. The two colours are placed in the same way the green and white are on the Nigerian flag.

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And now you know more about the Nigerian Army ranks for commissioned officers. Have you learned anything new about Ranks in the Nigerian army? Are you considering a career in the military? Are you already in the army? Let us know! We would appreciate your feedback.

READ ALSO: Ranks in the Nigerian Army and their salaries (Updated 2021) also posted an article about the salaries in the Nigerian Army. Knowing these details is necessary whether you want to become a part of the military or just to understand the role of the army in general. Read more in the article.


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