The purpose of establishing the Nigerian armed forces is to protract the integrity of the country by keeping out external aggressors. Despite the mounting challenges faced by the Nigerian armed forces in recent times, one can say they have done their due diligence to keep the country in perfect shape.

The services of members of the Nigerian armed forces are not limited to just Nigeria; they have also been involved in peace-keeping missions in several other parts of the world.  While one can say the Nigerian armed forces have done their due diligence to make Nigeria livable for all and sundry, it is unfortunate that the government cannot be said to be responsive to the needs of the members of the armed forces as many of them are forced to work and live in an un-conducive environment.

Not all the military personnel in Nigeria are accommodated. Even the few that are able to get accommodation are living in a not too good living area.

The government has a responsibility to improve their living and working standards.  It is only when they live in a decent environment that they can successfully discharge their duties of protecting and defending the integrity of Nigeria.

State of barracks

If you move from one barrack to another across Nigeria, you will discover how absurd these buildings look. Many of the buildings have been erected for decades and there is no physical sign of maintenance. Many of them are so dirty that you will feel nauseated when you visit the buildings.

The sewage systems in many of the buildings are already faulty and no one seemed to be interested in putting things in order. Some even look so old and as if they cab collapse at any time. While there area efforts here and there to better their lots, a lot still needs to be done by the government. One can say the efforts being put in are not sufficient enough to meet the accommodation needs of many of the military personnel.

To make things better for the military personnel, former president Olusegun Obasanjo set up a committee in 2001 to put things in order; the committee was christened Presidential Committee on Barracks Rehabilitation (PCBR). Some basic necessities of life are clothing, food, air and housing.

If any of these is missing, then the quality of life of the individual is low and such an individual cannot live a complete life or discharge his duties properly. Good housing protects one from unfriendly weather conditions and can add more value to life. Good housing also services as a form of defense against enemies.  

The government cannot afford to ignore the importance of providing adequate housing to members of the Nigerian military.         

Causes of poor accommodation for Nigerian military personnel

Corruption is the principal cause of the problem. Fund is made available for provision of suitable accommodation for members of Nigerian military, but it is unfortunate that the fund is never used for the designated purpose. Rather, it ends up in the personal bank account of top politicians and military officers.

At the end of the day, the lower cadre military personnel are the ones that will suffer the lack of proper accommodation since the top echelon in the army have government-issued palatial residences and would have also spent the fund earmarked for providing accommodation to the lower cadre military personnel on building their own homes or even buying properties abroad.  

Lack of political will is yet another factor responsible for the lack of adequate accommodation to military personal in Nigeria.  If a previous government starts off an accommodation project, it is unfortunate that the currency government will ignore the project so that the previous government that started the project will not claim glory over it.

At the end of the day, the military personnel, especially the lower cadre military personnel will be the ones to suffer the brunt.  It is unfortunate that many government leaders are playing politics with the lives, safety and comfort of the common man in Nigeria.             

Poor policy implementation is yet another factor worthy of note. And this had prevented the government from providing adequate accommodation to members of the Nigerian military.  There are existing housing policies for military personnel in Nigeria but it is unfortunate that these policies are not given the attention they deserve

It must be noted that the problems described above are not only affecting military personnel in Nigeria; it is affecting the police and virtually all other sectors of the economy, aside from the security sector.

Effect of poor living standard on military personnel   

Poor housing can have detrimental effect on human health and this means that Nigerian military personnel living in poor conditions are exposed to al manners of health challenges.  Series of infectious disease can ensure as a result of the poor accommodation.

Issues like inadequate food storage, intrusion by disease vectors, improper or ineffective waste disposal, lack of safe drinking water, etc are some of the many factors that expose these individuals to series of health challenges and kit can prevent them from discharging their duties appropriately.

It is also possible to sustain all manners of injuries as a result of living in such a poor environment. Cases of insect bite and snake bite are also not farfetched in such a situation.

The psychological effect of living in a dirty environment is also noteworthy.  For example, they will not be able to sleep properly and they will wake up on the wrong side of their beds. Such a military personnel will only be filled with indignation against the government that puts him in such a situation.

Since the government is too powerful for him to fight against, he will be compelled to transfer his aggression on the common man on the street, who was never part of the problem. It is common sight to see many of the soldiers maltreating unarmed civilians for no reason at all.

A government that has the interest of the citizen at heart will never delay in providing adequate accommodation for military personal considering the great role they play in keeping the country together.

This possibility looks bleak considering the fact that many politicians and top military officers that should make it happen are too corrupt to bother about the living condition of the men under their command.