Typically, a coat of arms is a unique heraldic symbol of a family, person, corporation, or even a country. A national coat of arms represents an independent state and remains one of the most prominent symbols of a country.

The origin of the coat of arms can be traced to the ancient traditions of Scotland and England. Usually, it consists of a crest, shield, supporters, and motto and these coats of arms were passed down from one generation to the other. Traditionally, it was respected as a sign of authority and power.

Nigeria, having been colonized by the British Empire, adopted the tradition and designed a distinctive coat of arms which incorporates all of Nigeria’s heraldic achievement. Just like the Nigerian national flag, the Nigerian Coat of arms is an official symbol of the country and accorded that same respect as the flag.

The Nigerian Coat of arms was designed and created in accordance with the national flag and coat of arms ordinance, No. 48 of 1960. Although it was designed and recognized since May 20, 1960, it was officially adopted by the Nigerian government in 1975. This was after series of modifications to the coat of arms designs.

Prior to the official adoption of the Nigerian Coat of arms, each of Nigeria constituents political units including the Eastern, Northern, Western, and Mid-western region had and used its own coat of arms. This was totally permissible as component states are allowed to have their own flag, anthem, and coat of arms under the federal system law. The only exception to this is having their armed forces and printing of currency.

What Are The Features Of The Nigerian Coat Of Arms?


The Nigeria Coat of arms is a heraldic symbol of national unity, state power, and authority. It has about seven permanent features also known as logos. Interestingly, each logo or feature symbolizes a particular virtue or entity about Nigeria.

Among the seven permanent features of the Nigerian Coat of arms are;

  • The crest – An eagle
  • Shield – Black shield
  • Blazon – A wavy white pall argent in between the black shield. It forms a Y shape.
  • Supporters – Two horses side by side.
  • Grassy field with yellow flowers – Costus spectabilis.
  • Green white green band on top of the shield.
  • Motto – Banderole around the base with the Nigerian national motto, Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.

The entire listed above are the features of the Nigerian Coat of arms. Like it was mentioned earlier, they all have their meanings all of which will be explained further in this article.

Who Designed The Nigeria Coat Of Arms?

Like the Nigerian National flag which was designed in 1959 by Michael Taiwo Akinkummi, the Nigerian Coat of arms was designed by someone. However, the designer was not officially documented and is unknown to this day.

The Nigeria national flag was designed by Taiwo Akinkummi as an entry to the competition for the design of the national flag in 1959. This may have been the reason why his name was documented as the designer of the Nigerian national flag and why the designer of the national coat of arms was left undocumented.

Nonetheless, there are two popular reports, although still unconfirmed which states how the design of the Nigerian Coat of arms came to be. The first report traces the designer of the Nigerian Coat of arms to a Bahamian clergyman and artist who was identified as Rev. Dr. Hervis L. Bain Jr. According to this report, the Nigerian national coat of arms was designed just about the same time the national flag was designed.

After which, it was approved on December 7, 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II. The second report states that the design of the Nigerian national coat of arms came to be during General Murtala Mohammed ascent to power as a military dictator.

How true these reports are remain uncertain as there are no official documents backing them up. For this reason, the designer of the Nigerian Coat of arms is unknown.

Nigeria National Coat Of Arms Features and Their Symbolic Meanings

Each of the seven (7) permanent features of the Nigerian national coat of arms has its meaning. Although there is no official document explaining their meanings, they have still a perceived meaning. They include:

  1. A black shield with a wavy white pall: The Black shield represents Nigeria’s fertile soil. The wavy white pall visible at the middle of the black shield which forms the letter Y represents Nigeria main inland rivers, Niger and Benue. After River Nile and River Congo-Chambeshi, River Niger is the third largest river in Africa. Both rivers, Niger and Benue meet to form a confluence at Lokoja with one larger than the other, hence, the reason why the pall forms the letter Y.
  2. Two supporting horses: The two supporting horses at each side of the shield represents dignity
  3. Eagle: The eagle represents strength and pride.
  4. Grassy field with yellow flowers: The yellow flowers scattered around the grassy field is the Nigerian national flower, Costus spectabilis which can be found all over Nigeria. It represents the beauty of the nation.
  5. Green white green band atop the shield: The green white green band represents the rich agricultural potentials of Nigeria.
  6. Banderole at the base which reads the Nigeria national motto: The Banderole reads Nigeria national motto which is ‘Unity and Faith, Peace and Joy.’ The national motto was formerly ‘Peace, Unity, Freedom’ up until 1978.

Other Nigerian Symbols

The Nigerian Coat of arms is just one of the many symbols of Nigerian. Other noteworthy symbols include:

  • The Nigeria Flag.
  • The Nigerian national anthem.
  • The Nigerian international passports.
  • The Nigerian national pledge.
  • The Nigerian currency.
  • The Nigerian constitution.
  • The Nigeria National ID card.

Quick Facts on the Nigeria Coat Of Arms

Except in conformity with a license granted by a minister of the government in accordance with the law, the Nigeria flag and coat of arms act of 1990 forbid the display of the Nigerian Coat of arms.

Up until 1975, the Eastern, Western, Mid-western, and the Northern regions of Nigeria used a different coat of arms.
To promote national symbols and emphasize their significance, September 16 is celebrated as National Ordinance Day.

The Nigerian Coat of arms is used as one of the main symbols on the covers of the Nigerian international passport.


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