Fact-checking Nasir El-Rufai’s claims about Nigerian military size, others at Chatham House


KADUNA State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, was among the surrogates who accompanied the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the Chatham House in the United Kingdom recently.

The world-leading institute and think-tank hosted Tinubu on Monday, December 5, 2022, to speak on his presidential bid ahead of Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.

The former Lagos governor was asked to field questions from the audience following his address on the topic, “Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Security and Economic Development and its Foreign Policy Imperatives.”

When asked about how his administration would address insecurity and kidnapping of women in Nigeria if elected, Tinubu called on El-Rufai to respond to the question.

READ; Ministerial screening: Fact-checking multiple claims by El-Rufai

Reacting to the question, the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) acknowledged that insecurity has been a major issue in the country in the last few years, adding that it has affected the economy, agricultural production, and commerce, among others.

El-Rufai further stated three ways in which the Bola Tinubu-led presidency, if he wins, would address the nation’s security challenges.

“First, Policing. Nigeria has about 300,000 policemen for a population of over 200 million. We need at least twice that number. That will be achieved by amending the constitution so that policing can be at federal, state and even at community levels,” he stated.

“The second step is to look at our armed forces and security architecture. Nigeria’s armed forces are not more than 200,000 in size – the Army, Navy, and the Airforce. While some countries are even looking at a space military, we are struggling with just less than 200k members of the Armed Forces for a country with a population of 200m+,” El-Rufai said.

He added that the total size of the Nigerian Army was “only 10,000” in 1967, which he said was increased to 250,000 because of the civil war.


Nigeria has about 300,000 policemen.


Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is FALSE.

An analysis published by Dataphyte on October 7, 2019 showed that the population of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) was at 371,800, with police to population ratio of one police officer to five hundred and forty (540) citizens.

According to INTERPOL, the strength of the Nigeria Police Force is more than 350,000 men and women across the 36 states and the FCT.

Also, a security expert, Bola Bakare stated in a report published by the Vanguard on July 7, 2021 that the personnel strength of the Nigeria Police Force stood at 370,000.


The claim that Nigeria has about 300,000 policemen is FALSE; findings show that the nation’s police population is more than 350,000.



Nigeria’s Armed Forces are not more than 200,000 in size.


Findings by the FactCheckHub revealed that the claim is FALSE.

A report published by Dataphyte on March 3, 2022, shows that the Nigerian military size stood at 215,000 out of which 135,000 are active while 80,000 make up the paramilitary, according to a 2022 data.

The country’s military strength index was said to be at 0.5745, a slight improvement compared to 2021 when the power index was 0.62.

In terms of strength, Nigeria’s military was ranked fourth in Africa and thirty-fifth in the world, the report stated.


The claim that Nigeria’s Armed Forces are not more than 200,000 in size is FALSE; data revealed that the country’s military size is 215,000 as of March 2022.

ALSO READ: 2023 election: Fact-checking Peter Obi’s claims at Chatham House


Nigerian Army was 10,000 in 1967 before it was increased to 250,000.


Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is HALF-TRUE.

A report by Military Wiki shows that the Nigerian Army (NA) had a force of 18,000 in infantry battalion and supporting units before the strength rose to about 126,000 in three divisions by the start of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967.

Also, a report by Global Security shows that the Nigerian Army’s strength was about 10,500 at independence, which later rose to 250,000 all ranks at the end of the Nigerian Civil war in 1970.

According to the report, the strength of NA was reduced to about 150,000 in all ranks by 1980 due to economic reasons and the country’s threat perception. It was then structured into three Infantry Divisions and Lagos Garrison Organisation (LGO).

“To meet targeted force reduction levels, in 1990 the Army began discharging soldiers who could not read or write after the four-year literacy campaign (1986-89), strictly enforcing disciplinary codes, and encouraging early retirements,” part of the report read.


The claim that the Nigerian Army was 10,000 in 1967 before it was increased to 250,000 is HALF-TRUE; findings revealed that the nation’s Army was more than 10,000 at independence in 1960 before the start of the civil war in 1967. However, the second part of the claim is true, based on the data stated above.

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