The meanings of each symbol on the Nigerian Coat of Arms.
Before we talk about the Nigerian Coat of Arms, it would be fair to get familiar with the country.
Nigeria, or the federal republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa that has been called the Giant of Africa. The country is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of Guinea to the south in the Atlantic Ocean. It also boasts a population of over 230 million, making it the most populous country in Africa and the world’s sixth-most populous country.
According to an article by Zikoko, the history of the coat of arms was actually influenced by the British. The report reveals that “the concept of a coat of arms can be traced back to medieval Europe, where they were used as a means of identification during battles.” The uses of the Coat of Arms continued to evolve through the years. It was most notably used to show family descent, property ownership, and alliances.
Today, the coat of arms basically represents a country’s symbol of national unity, state power, and authority, among other uses. The Nigerian Coat of Arms has existed since the country became an independent nation.
In 1960, Nigeria became an independent nation in 1960 and a sovereign state in ’63. With time, the country began to move past its colonial past and gain its own identity. The change was reflected in some of the new symbols it adopted to reflect the country’s identity away from its colonial masters.
A new flag was designed for the country in 1959 and hoisted for the first time on October 1st, 1960. That is the day on which Nigeria celebrates its independence every year. Also, in the same year, the Nigerian coat of arms was designed and recognized in 1960 in accordance with the national flag and coat of arms ordinance, No. 48, 1960. However, it wasn’t adopted until 1975. At that time, the symbol underwent a series of changes and modifications before its final designs were approved and adopted (in 1975). This all happened in all of 15 years.
While the person who designed the Nigerian flag, Taiwo Akinkunmi, is recognized and documented, the designer of Nigeria’s coat of arms is not known or officially registered. This has been called a departure from some of the processes that led to the creation and adoption of the Nigerian national flag. As explained above, the Coat of Arms remains a symbol of national unity, state power, and authority in the country. Outside Nigeria, it is also a symbol of recognition.
Symbols On The Coat Of Arms
The Nigerian Coat Of Arms has seven features or symbols. Each of these features reflects a unique quality that is attributed to the country.
The Black Shield: The black shield references the country’s fertile soil. Nigeria is big on agriculture, where many families are fed, and businesses thrive.
The Wavy White Pall: The wavy white pall occupies some space in the middle of the black shield. It can also be described as the symbol that forms the shape of the letter “Y.” It is a nod to the country’s two main inland rivers, the River Niger and the River Benue. Both rivers meet at a point in Lokoja where they form a confluence. This is where the “Y” shape is formed.
The Two Horses: A horse is on each side of the black shield. The horses symbolize the country’s dignity. Nigerians have been described as proud people who are particular about their dignity.
The Red Eagle: The red eagle, which stands tall above the shield, represents the country’s strength.
The Green And White Wreath: This is just beneath the red eagle. It also rests on top of the shield. The wreath is a reference to the country’s agricultural potential. As mentioned earlier, Nigeria is big on Agriculture due to its fertile soil.
The Grassy Field And Flowers: There are red flowers at the bottom of the coat of arms. They are called Costus Spectabilis, and they were the country’s national flower. There have been reports that the flowers were included because they were found all over the country. They signify the country’s natural beauty.
The National Motto: The country’s national motto reads “Unity and Faith, Peace, and Progress.” It initially read “Unity and Faith,” and then “Unity, Faith and Freedom,” but “Peace and Progress” were included in 1978. At the time, faith had been quite crucial for the Nigerian nation hence the change. Also, the motto is written on a gold ribbon. The gold color symbolizes respect, understanding, and generosity.