Introduction to Roles of Army Engineers

1.Nations of the world set objectives which they continually strive to achieve. These objectives which are regarded to be of benefit to the citizens of the country are collectively known as national interest. The extent to which a nation can achieve its national interest and indeed the influence it wields in the international community depends largely on its level of development. Nation building literally connotes national development. In a contemporary society, the concept of national development is directly linked to the general well-being of a state and its people.

National development or nation building is predicated on indices such as economic stability, peace and security of the state. The essence of any government therefore is to provide security and welfare for the citizenry to achieve stability and peace. Nation building is a continuous process. It represents the process whereby changes are effected within any society to generate wealth, create economic opportunities and bring about peace, stability and security.

2.Over the last half century, some advanced countries like the USA, China and Israel among others have implemented various plans towards development. One of such plans is the use of their military in national development. Historically, military involvement in nation building can be traced to socialist countries like Russia, China, Cuba and Vietnam where the military was engaged in developmental activities such as agriculture and manufacturing. Later in the face of economic challenges, countries like Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Iraq also used their military in nation building through their military engineers for road construction and industrial development.This contributed to the development of their national economy.

3.A nation is defined as ‘a large body of people united by common descent, culture or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory’. On the other hand, building is ‘the business or task of constructing houses, factories, bridges and other large structures’. Hence, nation building could be described as a structural transformation of all facets of national lives such as economic, political, social and technological endeavours in order to make a nation more viable for development.

4.Similarly,in developing countries like Nigeria, it has become imperative that the military be actively involved in nation building to compliment the efforts of all other sectors involved in such activities. The NA through the Nigerian Army Engineers (NAE) has been in the forefront of this drive, in addition to its role of the defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

The NA also has the responsibility of aiding civil authority in disaster management or civil construction works which are normally carried out by NAE.However, the NAEhas the primary role of helping the NA to live, move and fight. These include construction of roads and bridges, reconstruction and rehabilitation of facilities and water supply. For example, the NAE constructed the first road to Mambilla Plateau, of the then Northern Region now Adamawa State, in the 1960s.The Corps was also involved in the construction of a bridge across River Rima and the reconstruction of Ayakoromo town in 2010. When the NAE plays these roles, it is inadvertently contributing to nation building.

5.It is pertinent to state that NAE evolved from the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) which dates back to the early Twentieth Century. The NAE were part of the Royal British Engineers which surveyed and fixed the boundaries of what is now known as Nigeria with the neighbouring French and German colonies. In spite of the contributions of the NAE in nation building, the corps encountered some challenges while performing their functions.

These challenges include dearth of equipment, absence of legal backing and shortage of manpower among others.It is against this background that this paper seeks to examine these challenges in order to proffer viable solutions for the NA in supporting the NAE towards efficiently contributing to nation building. It is written for the Director Department of Land Warfare in partial fulfillment for the award of Pass Staff Course.

6.The purpose of this paper therefore is to examine the challenges and prospects of the contribution of NAE to nation building. The paper will discuss an overview of NAE and the contributions of NAE to nation building. It will further appraise the contributions of some other countries to nation building in order to draw lessons for NAE. Finally, it will examine the challenges and prospects of the NAE’s contribution to nation building. This paper will however be limited to NAE‘s contribution to nation building in terms of structural constructions and projects. The aspects of peace and security as part of nation building will not be discussed. It is assumed that the reader is conversant with the concept of nation building. This would therefore not be discussed in detail.


7.The aim of this paper is to discuss the challenges and prospects of the contributions of NAE to nation building with a view to making recommendations.

——————————————–[ 1 ]. 1.Encarta Dictionary, 2012.[ 2 ]. 2.Robert B Schulz, The Dynamics of Development in the Engineering Nation, (Canberra, Canberra University Press, 2004). [ 3 ]. 3.Olaniyi AA, Maj Gen, Capability of the Nigerian Army Engineers in National Development, (Unpublished, May 2012). [ 4 ]. 4.Ibid.

[ 5 ]. 5.Catherine S, Angus S, The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Indian Edition, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press Ltd, 2007), P. 952. [ 6 ]. 6.Op.cit. Encarta Dictionary.[ 7 ]. 7.Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. [ 8 ]. 8.NA, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Precis (Nigerian Army School of Military Engineering, 1996), P.11. [ 9 ]. 9.Abubakar, S, “How Military Bridge Brought Succour to Sokoto”, Daily Trust (Sokoto), 25 Oct 10, P.3. [ 10 ]. 10.Olawuni, T, “Hope Rises for Ayakoromo Community as Jonathan Orders Reconstruction”, Business Day (Lagos), 16 Dec 10, P.5.