Before then ,all locally trained officers came through a 6-month training course at the then NMTC and the Nigerian Armed Forces Officer Cadets were trained overseas, notably in Royal Military Academy 1, Sandhurst, England; German Air Force Academy and Teshie Military Academy, Ghana.
Eventually after the 1963 intakes,the Nigerian Defence Academy was born in March 1964. The NDA was to train officers for 3 years instead of 6 months,equipping them with the NDA Certificate of Education which was basically GCE A’Level after 2years and in their 3rd year,they received exclusive military training.
The pioneer class of the NDA was only 62 cadets , and trainers were mostly officers in the Indian Army. The class consisted of only Army and Navy cadets. Air Force cadets were later admitted and trained with the subsequent countries.
On 18 March 1967 the first set known as NDA’s Regular Course 1 graduated .They have the likes of Salihu Ibrahim,Oladipo Diya, Muhammed Ali Gusau, Ishola Williams, Mamman Kontagora, Joshua Dogonyaro, Kachim, Admiral Allison Madueke ,Bello Khaliel, Ekundayo, Rabiu Aliyu etc
Sixty of them graduated and were later deployed to the battlefront of Nigeria's civil war . Today,those who are still alive among the set are less than 20.
General Salihu Ibrahim later became the Chief of Army staff ,General Oladipo Diya was a one time Governor of Ogun State and later Chief of General Staff(De facto Vice president) while General Dogonyaro later became the ECOMOG Commander.
Also, General Gusau was most recently the Minister of Defence , and has served as National Security Adviser to three presidents; he was also the Chief of Army Staff during Ernest Shonekan regime ,Colonel Khalliel was the first Governor of Bauchi State ,Mamman Kotangota is an ex administrator of FCT and Admiral Allison Madueke was a one time Governor of Anambra State and later Chief of Naval Staff between 1993 to 1994.
The Head of State General Yakubu Gowon with the graduands
The then Head of State General Yakubu Gowon, 1st Commandant Brigadier Varma (An Indian)
Picture 1 (above): Former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon (in front); and behind him the Pioneer Director of Studies NDA Late Mallam Abu Egbunu (left) and Pioneer Deputy Commandant NDA Commodore R. Cowa (right).
In picture 2 (Right to Left) : Late Admiral Samuel Akinwale Wey (First Nigerian Naval Admiral and 1st indigenous Chief of Naval Staff), Late Major Gen. David Ejoor (The 1st indigenous Commandant NDA) .In front and commanding the parade is the overall best graduating cadet Gen. Salihu Ibrahim.
Photo Credit: Abu Egbunu Foundation.
Today ,the duration of training at the Nigerian Defence Academy is 5 years for Army cadets (4 years Academic + 1 year Military) and 4 years for Navy and Air force cadets after which they proceed to Nigerian Naval College, Onne, Port-Hacourt and 301 Flying Training School(301FTS), Kaduna respectively for 1-year training at their respective services.
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