Nigeria Defence Academy – Life as Cadet in NDA

Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna

The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) is a prestigious institution that has produced some of the finest military officers in Nigeria and beyond. Situated in Kaduna, a bustling city in the northern part of the country, the NDA has a rich history that spans several decades.

From its humble beginnings as a training facility for the Nigerian Army in the 1960s, the NDA has evolved into a world-class institution that provides cutting-edge military training to cadets from various parts of Nigeria and other countries.

In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of the Nigerian Defence Academy, exploring its history, mission, programs, facilities, and more. Whether you’re a military enthusiast, a prospective cadet, or just curious about the NDA, you’ll find this guide to be a valuable resource. So, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive in!


In response to the defense requirements of an independent Nigeria, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) was founded on February 5, 1964, to train officers for the Nigerian Armed Forces.  The Academy was previously called the Royal Military Forces Training College (RMFTC) but was renamed the Nigerian Military Training College following Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

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NDA, Kaduna

The purpose of the Academy is to enhance each officer cadet’s military, academic, and character qualities in order to prepare them to fulfill the requirements of a military officer. In essence, the NDA is a facility where a chosen group of physically fit young people are trained to become intelligent, brave, virile and erudite subalterns.


The Nigerian Defence Academy has five faculties;

Faculty of Engineering

Faculty of Art and Social Science

Faculty of Science

Faculty of Management Science

Faculty of Military Science

Faculty of Engineering

The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Board approved the creation of the Faculty of Engineering in 1988. Beginning in September 1989, 40 Regular Course (RC) students were admitted to the Departments of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The Department of Mechatronic Engineering (MCE) was founded in 2020 with 72 RC, whereas the Department of Civil Engineering (CE) began operations in 1998.

2018 saw a change in the name of the faculty, which is now known as the Faculty of Engineering and Technology. Thus, the Faculty has a total of four departments. The four departments run undergraduate programs for officer cadets only. The CE, EEE, and ME Departments all offer postgraduate programs up to the Ph.D. level, and the MCE will begin offering a postgraduate diploma in Mechatronics Engineering in 2021 with admissions for the 2020–2021 academic year.

The Faculty is made up of four (4) departments as follows:

  • Department of Civil Engineering (CE)
  • Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE)
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME)
  • Department of Mechatronic Engineering (MCE)

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) has been in existence for over 36 years. It was established at the start of the academic year 1986–1987. When the NDA degree program began in the 1985–86 academic year, there were no faculties. In September 1986, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was established. In October 2011, the Faculty commemorated its silver anniversary.

At the time the Faculty was established, there were just three Departments: the Department of Economics, the Department of Geography, and the Department of History. There were barely 14 or so academic foundation staff members.

Only one of these employees is still working with the Academy. This is Professor OE Tangban, a former Head of the Department of History and International Studies, former Dean of the Post Graduate School, and Dean of the Faculty.

In addition, FASS has undergone significant structural changes over the past ten years, including the curbing of the Faculty of Management Sciences from the Faculty, the establishment of new Departments like PSY (from GNS), DSS (from defunct PSDS), Accounting, and later Management Sciences (out of defunct Economics and Management); the renaming and restructuring of HWS (formerly History and International Studies) and PS; and the restructuring of HWS and PS (formerly Political Science and Defence Studies).

The Departments of Accounting, Economics, Management Studies, and Logistics and Supply Chain Management currently make up the new Faculty of Management Sciences (FMS), which was created out of FASS at the start of the 2019–2020 academic year.

The Faculty is made up of six departments;

Department of Defence and Security Studies

Department of Geography

Department of Languages

Department of History and War Studies

Department of Political Science

Department of Psychology

Faculty of Military Science and Interdisciplinary Studies

The NDA has five faculties, with the Faculty of Military Science and Interdisciplinary Studies being one of them. At its meeting on February 12, 2016, the NDA Council gave its preliminary approval to the creation of the Faculty of Military Science and Interdisciplinary Studies (FMSIS). Computer Science, Cyber Security, Intelligence Security Science, and Military Science make up the Faculty’s four (4) Departments.

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The Academy’s mission is to advance excellence in learning, study, and creative endeavor. The Faculty is a top academic institution and a self-governing community of scholars, providing postgraduate students and the next generation of officers with high-quality instruction, mentoring, and learning opportunities so they may help shape the future of our country.

The Faculty gives Cadets a place to grow and develop their ability for original thought while also pushing them to strive for higher goals. Officer Cadets would learn the skill of fusing humanities, natural sciences, applied sciences, and engineering expertise in the pursuit of their goals. In terms of military science, intelligence, modern security concerns, and theaters of war, it is designed to be a nexus of the other faculties.

Faculty of Management Sciences

The Faculty of Management Sciences (FMS) is the newest faculty in NDA. It was established at the start of the academic year 2019–2020. Currently, there were four departments on the faculty: the Departments of Accounting, Department of Economics, Department of Management Studies, and Department of Logistics and Supply chain management. There were only about 35 foundations’ Academic Staff. Professor Joshua Okpanachi is the pioneer coordinating Dean of the faculty.

Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science is made up of five departments;

Department of Biotechnology

Department of Biological Science

Department of Mathematics

Department of Physics

Department of Chemistry

NDA Courses

Below is a list of courses offered at the Nigerian Department Academy;

  • Accounting
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Cyber Security
  • Defense and Security Studies
  • Economics
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Intelligence and Security Studies
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechatronics Engineering
  • Military Science
  • Physics
  • Political Science and Defence Studies
  • Psychology
  • Transport and Logistics Management
  • Transport Logistics Management

NDA Commandants

Below is the chronological list of NDA Commandants:

  • Brigadier M.R. Varma (1964 – 1969) (Indian national and 1st Commandant of the NDA)
  • Major General David Ejoor (January 1969 – January 1971) (1st Nigerian Commandant)
  • Major General Robert Adeyinka Adebayo (January 1971 – March 1971)
  • Major General Eyo Okon Ekpo (March 1971 – February 1975)
  • Brigadier Illiya Bisalla (February 1975 – August 1975)
  • Brigadier Gibson Jalo (August 1975 – January 1978)
  • Brigadier E.S. Armah (January 1978 – July 1978)
  • Brigadier Joseph Garba (July 1978 – July 1979)
  • Brigadier Zamani Lekwot (July 1979 – 1982)
  • Brigadier Abdullahi Shelleng (1982 – January 1984)
  • Major General Paul Tarfa (January 1984 – 1985)
  • Major General Peter Adomokai (1986 – 1988)
  • Lieutenant General Salihu Ibrahim (1988 – 1990)
  • Lieutenant General Garba Duba (1990 – February 1992)
  • Lieutenant General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (February 1992 – January 1993)
  • Lieutenant General Mohammed Balarabe Haladu (January 1993 – 1994)
  • Air Marshal Al-Amin Daggash (1994 – June 1998)
  • Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (June 1998 – 1999)
  • Major General Thaddeus Ashei (2000 – 2002)
  • Major General Okon Edet Okon (2002 – 2003)
  • Major General Patrick Ademu Akpa (2003 – 2004)
  • Lieutenant General Abel Akale (2004 – 2006)
  • Major General Harris Dzarma (2006 – August 2008)
  • Major General Mamuda Yerima (August 2008 – August 2010)
  • Major General Emeka Onwuamaegbu (August 2010 – December 2013)[7]
  • Major General Muhammad Inuwa Idris (December 2013 – August 2015)
  • Major General Mohammed Tasiu Ibrahim (August 2015 – October 2017)
  • Major General Adeniyi Oyebade (October 2017 – November 2019)
  • Major General Jamilu Sarham (November 2019 – March 2021)
  • Major General Sagir Yaro (March 2021 – April 2021)
  • Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf (April 2021 – Present)


Some notable alumni:

  • Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, former Chief of Army Staff
  • Alexander Ogomudia, former Chief of Defence Staff & Chief of Army Staff
  • Sani Abacha, former Military ruler of Nigeria
  • Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria and former Military Head of State
  • Azubuike Ihejirika, former Chief of Army Staff
  • Dangiwa Umar, former Governor of Kaduna State
  • Gideon Orkar, April 1990 coup leader
  • Tukur Yusuf Buratai, former Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army
  • Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, former Chief of Naval Staff, Nigerian Navy
  • Kayode Are, former National Security Adviser and Director General State Security Service
  • Maxwell Khobe, former ECOMOG Peacekeeping Force Commander and Chief of Defence Staff, Sierra Leone
  • Emeka Onwuamaegbu Former Commandant, NDA
  • Muhammad Inuwa Idris, Former Commandant, NDA
  • Oladipo Diya, former Chief of Defence Staff
  • Owoye Andrew Azazi, former Chief of Defence Staff & Chief of Army Staff
  • Sultan Sa’adu Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto
  • Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser
  • Tunji Olurin, former military governor of Oyo State
  • Victor Malu, former Chief of Army Staff
  • John Michael Ogidi, former ECOMOG Officer and Commander Corps of Signals Lagos Headquarters

Do cadets go to war?

No, NDA cadets do not go to war. After successful completion of their training from NDA and the training institutes of the service of their choice, cadets are commissioned as officers and thereafter they can be posted to field areas.

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How much are NDA School Fees?

NDA is free. It is a government-sponsored institution.

How can I join the Nigerian Defence Academy?

There are seven practical steps you can follow to gain admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy;

1. Meet up with the general requirements:

– Candidates must be at least 17 and not more than 21 years old in the month of August in the year of entry into the academy

– Must be at least 1.68 meters for males and 1.65 meters for females

– Must be medically fit and be of good moral character

– Must be single without any legal obligation to support any child

– Must be able to present a Certificate of State of Origin

2. Apply with relevant SSCE Results

– Candidates must possess at least five credit passes in relevant O’Level subjects in no more than two sittings relevant to their faculty of interest.

3. Choose NDA in UTME

4. Write and Score no less than 180 in UTME

5. Register for NDA admission on their portal

– Similar to other candidates registering for Post UTME exercises at their universities, students intending to enter NDA are equally required to register and write entrance examinations into the academy.

6. Write the Entrance Examination

7. Participate in the Interview if invited

– The interview will take the form of an oral interview and physical checking of credentials

Are phones allowed in NDA?

No, mobile phones are not allowed in NDA.

Do I need JAMB for NDA?

Yes, intending students are required to apply and write UTME. They are expected to score at least 180 in UTME and to choose NDA as their First Choice or Second Choice.

How much is the NDA Cadet salary in Nigeria?

The NDA pays its cadet a monthly stipend while undergoing education and military training at its Academy. Each cadet is entitled to an N50,000 monthly allowance throughout their stay in the academy.

Can I obtain the NDA form as a Direct Entry applicant?

The short answer is no, you can’t.

– Visit to apply for a regular course where you earn a bachelor’s degree at the end

Read more about the application process here

Can I apply as a female to NDA?

Yes, admission into NDA is open to male and female candidates

Life as a cadet in Nigerian Defence Academy

The NDA is one of the most prestigious tertiary institutions in Nigeria, and by extension, Africa. The academy trains the three branches of the military; Army, Airforce, and Navy. Cadets undergo five years of military training for the Army and a four-year training for the Navy and Airforce. Even before graduating as officers, cadets are highly respected in society.

All newly accepted cadets typically have a difficult first year because they must adjust to the demanding physical, emotional, and psychological training and exercise in order to lose their “Civilian Mentality.” Typically, this is for the first three months after resuming at the academy. Some academy cadets nickname this “Decivilization”. The newly admitted Terma 1 cadets are loosely called “clowns”.

Life of a clown

Since the newly admitted cadets immediately surrender their peace when they entered the Academy, they must attempt to endure everything that is thrown at them during their numerous arduous and demanding training. They simply follow the instructions of their superiors, no matter how seemingly hard the task may seem.

In order to complete your morning duties as a Terma 1 Cadet, which include cleaning the entire hostel, ironing and polishing your room seniors’ boots, and preparing for a Muster Parade, which is typically at 4 am before the Morning Jog, you must be awake at 3 am or earlier every morning.

Breakfast is served at six in the morning, and there is always enough food for everyone to eat and feel content. However, before you get too enthusiastic, remember that after completing the Academy’s demanding training sessions, you will sweat out all of that food.

The second terma is one of the evilest terma at the Academy because they want to exact retribution for everything that was done to them in their first year, and the “Clowns” are the best and only people they can vent their rage on. When you arrive at the Academy, they will be your greatest adversary. At times, you may feel like giving up or dying, but that is exactly what the training is supposed to prepare you for. However, some Cadets do flee, which is why the phrase “Survival of the Fittest” was coined.

Every day at 11 p.m., there is a complete light out, which is a time for rest and sleep. However, it is at that moment that you will truly realize that you have sold your peace; you might not even be able to get any sleep at all because your seniors will work you so hard that you might even forget your name.

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They can choose to punish you for no apparent reason. You will experience a lot more things than I’m likely not allowed to mention here, but in the end, it will be for your benefit because you will end up being  revered and “Cracked” cadets when you return home for break or go “plumming.”

You might also have a lot of other delightful experiences while at the Academy. Just be aware that you have traded your peace immediately after you enter the academy as a Terma 1 cadet.

My first week in the NDA

My Dad’s favorite quote was, “The gun is not for killing people; the gun is for defending decent people. You don’t fight because you detest what is before you; as a true soldier, you fight because you love what is behind.”

I had to perform ten backstrokes and fifteen pushups in front of my father to demonstrate how readily available I was to respond to the call of duty that evening when he returned carrying my admission letter to the Nigerian Defense Academy because my love for the naval force was comparable to a child’s love for chocolate.

In times of distress, books were a better companion than firearms, but I had a deep-seated desire to be born in Pennsylvania, where shooting is the norm, so I could always console myself by playing war games. On the eve of my trip to Kaduna, I started packing my bag while it was still very early in the evening. Two custardfuls of ‘boye’ (garri) were included in the supplies I carried in my suitcase, making it exceedingly hefty.

I visited all of my aunts, uncles, and nephews to say farewell. Because I was a huge Shakespeare fan, I frequently used one of his lines from Julius Caesar to do so: “If we meet again, we shall smile, if not, this parting is well made.” While some of my aunts were thrilled, others were in tears.

My uncles simply showed no interest at all. I often told myself, “My last days as a civilian has come,” and I felt very proud of myself. We had enough time to get to Kaduna. Given the weight of my load, my dad had expected to take me to the school in the cab we boarded, but that wasn’t the way things worked there.

My father and other parents were ordered to leave after we were dropped off at the gate. I was called along with other boys and girls, some from wealthy homes, who appeared to be only there because their parents wanted them in the military based on their hesitation and uninterested attitude.

Despite the weight of our bags, we were ordered to carry them while frog jumped from the gate to the administrative block, a distance of about 120 meters from the gate, while chanting some strange war songs, such as “There is something I want to be, I want to be a soldier,” even though the syllables were not well articulated. Perhaps this was a characteristic of the military lifestyle, or perhaps it was their own method of speaking in tongues.

We were all registered at the administrative block, each person receiving three lashes at the back from our senior mates in Tarma three and four respectively.  They referred to this as “welcome tea.” After being taken to our individual dormitories, the bell for lunch rang just as we were being shown how to military dress our beds. Sorry was your name if you weren’t able to complete making your bed before the bell rang.

We were all at fault, and we were all given the head-pinning punishment prior to our three o’clock lunch. Some of those wealthy kids were already exhausted and on the verge of giving up, but I loved it and wanted that to be my life.

The evening began with a long-distance run, and it ended with a dance centered around what they called a “campfire drill,” during which everyone had to leap over the fire and endure being “baked” for a while. We went to bed at half past eleven and woke up the next morning at five to the ringing of the bell.

When it came time for deep water swimming, we received instruction on how to submerge ourselves for several minutes and how to use a knife to defend ourselves. Everything was a demanding exercise.

We were determined to make it to the end and couldn’t wait for the possibility of being in Tarma Four, for the possibility of having a full meal and having our own command. However, some of the rich kids could not withstand it, some nights later they scaled the fence against all the rules and sanctions and ran home.

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