Nigerian Army Ranks and Symbols


In order to be protected against external and internal forces, every country of the world ensures it has some set measures. These measures are upheld by a set of people called the armed forces. Armed forces in Nigeria are one of the components of the executive organ of government. They defend and protect the state against any external attack or threat. They are regarded as the “live wire” or “strong room” of Nigeria.

The Nigerian armed forces are divided into army, navy and air force. The Nigerian army maintains peace on land, the navy secures the country through its open waters while the air force supports air operations and security of the country. The moment a person is enlisted into any of these forces, he automatically begins to grow in rank after a period of time or distinguished service to the country.

Nigerian Army Rank and Their Symbols

A rank is like a title insignia that specifies the position of an officer of the armed force. Each armed force in Nigeria has a name its specific rank is called. Nigeria’s rank structure is similar to that of the United Kingdom. The Nigerian army rank is divided into commissioned and non-commissioned officers. These commissioned officers are of higher rank than the noncommissioned officers. In a descending order, here the Nigeria Army ranks and their symbols.

18. Private Soldier

For a new recruit who has just gained the privilege of being enlisted or enters a private contact in the Nigerian army, he or she is awarded the rank of private soldier. He is regarded as someone who is below the rank of a non-commissioned officer. The rank first came in use when individuals were forced to be enlisted in the army to fight wars. A soldier who has undergone any form of disciplinary action is also assigned this rank. A private army officer wears no uniform insignia.

17. Lance Corporal

Lance corporal is the lowest rank in the Nigerian army. It was derived from an Italian word “lancepesade” which means officer of the lowest rank. A lance corporal is also the lowest noncommissioned officer. He wears a one shoulder mark, with a single “V” shape as his rank symbol.

16. Corporal

Corporal is regarded as a level-4 noncommissioned officer. He can be made the leader of a smallest unit or team in the army. He is also the ones in charge of personal appearance and cleanliness of soldiers in their teams. He has two “V” marks on their shoulder as the symbol of his rank.

15. Sergeant

After a corporal comes a sergeant in the Nigerian army. He is a junior non-commissioned officer. His job is to see to the daily tasks of the soldiers below him. He is sometimes made the leader of a team, which is usually more than that of the corporal. A sergeant is usually recognized by three “V” symbol on his shoulder.

14. Staff Sergent

Staff sergeant is the senior noncommissioned officer in the Nigerian army. He has a lot of soldiers at his command. His job is to ensures that more soldiers are promoted to the rank of sergeant through him. He also ensures that the low ranked soldiers are developed, and their full potentials are utilized. Normally, a staff Sergeant has few sergeants working directly under him. A staff sergeant is known by the three “V” marks on his shoulder like that of the sergeant with a golden eagle on top.

13. Warrant Officer

A warrant officer comes after a staff sergeant. He is a highly specialized expert charged with the responsibility of training solders of the Nigerian army. He is the assistant to the master warrant officer. He also maintains, administers and manages the army’s weapons and equipment. He is also the one to allot tasks to the soldiers in his squad, unit or crew. Its symbol is a golden eagle surrounded by golden crown made of olive leaves.

12. Master Warrant Officer

The master warrant officer is the principal of all noncommissioned officer. The warrant officer report directly to him. He is in charge of the military equipment. He is also the one to dispatch leadership roles among the other high ranked non-commissioned officers. His symbol is the Nigerian coat of arms with silver horses instead of white and the rest being painted gold instead of their normal colours.

11. Second Lieutenant

The commissioned officer title begins from the rank of a second lieutenant. He also carries the lowest rank in the hierarchy of commissioned officers. His job is to assist the first lieutenant. He is recognized by his insignia comprising of a single star on each shoulder.

10. First Lieutenant

The position of the first lieutenant comes after the second lieutenant. He is a junior in the hierarchy of commissioned officers. His job is to assist the captain. He is usually charged with the responsibility of overseeing a platoon or troop. The insignia of a second lieutenant is two silver stars aligning vertically on his two shoulders.

9. Captain

The rank of a captain comes after the first lieutenant and below the rank of the major. His rank is usually awarded the rank of the highest tactical troops. He is among the commissioned officer and serves as a commander or second in commander of a company. A captain is usually recognized by three silver stars aligned vertically.

8. Major

Major is the lowest category of commissioned field officers. The rank comes immediately after the captain and below the rank of the lieutenant colonel. He is recognized by a silver eagle on his two shoulders.

7. Lieutenant Colonel

A lieutenant colonel is a middle level field officer. He commands a large number of troops and units that can number up to 650. He can also be awarded the rank of a substantive battalion commander. He wears an eagle with silver lining and one star as the symbol of his rank.

6. Colonel

Immediately after the lieutenant colonel comes the colonel. Colonel is more of a ceremonial and political role in the Nigerian army. He is usually an advisor to senior officers in the Nigerian army. He can also be awarded the responsibility of serving as a staff officer between field commands at battalion or brigade level. His insignia is in form of one silver eagle and two stars aligned vertically.

5. Brigadier General

The brigadier general ranks above the colonel and directly below the major general. This rank is attained mostly after about 25 years of active participation in the activities of the Nigerian armed forces. A brigadier general commands troops numbering as high as 4,000. He is recognized by his insignia comprising of one silver eagle and three stars arranged in a triangular form.

4. Major General

The rank of the major general is a two-star ranked commissioned officer in the Nigerian armed forces. He is above the brigadier general and below the lieutenant general. He is in charge of major tactical operations including battles and other engagements. He controls divisions with troops numbering between 10,000 and 16,000. The first Nigerian to attain this rank was Major General Aguiyi Ironsi in 1965. A major general is recognized by his insignia consisting of a crossed baton and a sword below a golden eagle on his shoulders.

3. Lieutenant General

Lieutenant general is a three-star ranked commissioned officer in the Nigerian army. The rank comes immediately after that of a major general, but below the rank of a general. Usually, a lieutenant general is a senior commissioned officer, appointed by the president. His insignia comprises of a golden crossed baton and sword, a star and an eagle on his two shoulders.

2. General

General is the second highest rank of commissioned officers. It is the highest rank ever attained in the Nigerian army. It is a four-star rank. The function of a general is just to plan the operation of the lower ranked officers on the field. The insignia of this rank consist of a crossed baton and sword, two stars and an eagle all painted in gold on the shoulders.

1. Field Marshal

Field Marshall is the highest and most difficult rank to attain in the Nigerian army. In fact, no Nigerian soldier has ever been able to attain the rank of a field Marshall. It is attainable by appointment after a lot of military achievements, service and utmost display of loyalty, dedication and bravery. The symbol of a Field Marshall is an all gold crossed baton and sword, surrounded by two branches and an eagle on top on the shoulders.

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