The Cold War and Air Force politics in independent Nigeria (1960-1962)

Akali Omeni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The term “military” within the Nigerian context tends to be a misnomer for the Army, with the Navy and Air Force often at the scholarship margins. This article presents a corrective: it shifts the emphasis from the Nigerian Army within the historical discourse on politics and its impact on the military in Nigeria. The paper instead examines the Cold War political origins of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as an under-researched service branch of the Nigerian military. In 1962, after two years of political negotiations, Nigeria’s politicians shunned British overtures and opted for West German assistance in establishing an air force. In examining the Cold War political environment, including the actors and decision-making in the two years leading to that outcome, the article employs interview data and historical sources from the National Defence College Abuja and the UK National Archives, including communiqués, letters and other forms of official corpus.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of African Military History
VolumeAdvance Articles
Early online date8 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2023


  • Cold War in Africa
  • Nigeria
  • West Germany
  • USSR
  • Canada
  • India
  • Britain
  • Politics


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