The question has often been asked as to which is more powerful, the South African Army of the Nigerian Army.

Nigerian Soldiers

Size Mattets

On paper, maybe. Nigeria has more personnel (+-13 000 more) and more tanks (about 650 odd more). South Africa has more combat aircraft and without a doubt the best artillery.

And this is where it stops. Bigger, better armies have lost against smaller armies due to a variety of reasons. Smaller armies have also been squashed like bugs by bigger armies.

Combat Experience

The Nigeria Army has been battling a terror organization for years. They have had a lot of real warfare experience.

Nigerian Soldiers training in the Desert

The SANDF on the other hand is relatively untested. They have mostly been on peace keeping missions in Africa. Internally, SA soldiers are currently deployed in Cape Town where a massive gang warfare is claiming 11 lives a week.


The SANDF has a lot of advanced technology. Drones, Submarines, Jets and massive Warships all manufactured at DENEL in Pretoria!

On the other hand the Nigerian Army has the benefits of oil dollars. They can buy almost any equipment and have a big navy.


The South African National Defence(SANDF) as it exists today was created in 1994 following South Africa’s first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution. It replaced the South African Defence Force and incorporated Umkonto We Sizwe guerilla fighters.

As of September 2018 the Chief of the SANDF is former MK Commander General Solly Shoke

General Solly Shoke

The Nigeria Military was established after independence in the 1960s. Being a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Nigeria shares a rank structure similar to that of Britain.

Tukur Yusuf Buratai is the current Nigerian Chief of Army Staff of Nigeria, a position he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2015.

Nigeria Army Head of Staff

In conlusion

Reinhert Rossouw, writing on Quora, had this to say,

One will never know. There are a lot of mercenaries in Nigeria, most of them ex-South African soldiers, so they know the terrain and they know the conditions.

The only way to know, is when the two countries go to war, as there are many factors playing a role and that is why I don’t like these type of questions. It’s like asking which is the better tank, the Abrams or the Challenger – no one knows for sure, as they have not faced off in combat.

Let’s rather pray that day never comes – war is no playing field and innocents suffer the most.