Nigerian Defence Service Medal

Today we are off to a former British colony that I don’t think I have ever covered on the blog before; Nigeria. Nigeria was granted independence in 1960, but by 1967 had fallen into civil war. The war, also known as the Biafran War, was fought between the government troops, loyal to General Yakuba Gowon and the secessionist state of Biafra led by Lt Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu. It was to last three years and saw 100,000 military casualties and up to an estimated 2 million Biafrans would die from starvation. The war was also tinged with atrocities on all sides and international backing for different factions, the British and USSR choosing to support the Nigerian government, the French and Israelis the Biafrans. The war came to an end in 1970 after a final victory for the Government of Nigeria and a special medal was produced and issued to its forces:

The medal hangs from a ribbon with red, white and orange stripes down it, the hanger being rather crudely stamped from white metal. The face of the medal has a jet fighter, anchor and rifles to represent the three armed force branches of the Nigerian military:

The reverse has the outline of the country surrounded by a wreath of hands representing the unity of the nation (!):

The Biafran War was not the last major internal conflict in the country and the nation had a succession of democratically elected and military dictatorships until 1999 when a stable democracy was established which remains in place to this day, with elections for the president and even a stable transition from one party of government to another in 2015.

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