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Who Designed The Nigeria National Coat Of Arms?

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The Nigeria national Coat of Arms is a symbolic representation of Nigeria as a sovereign state. It remains one of the most prominent visual assets of our beloved country, Nigeria. In this well-researched article, we would divulge as much information on this subject as possible.  

The Coat of Arms originated from the ancient traditions of the United Kingdom. It was recognized as a sign of authority and power. Since Nigeria was colonized by the British Empire, it’s no surprise why they have adopted the same tradition and designed an emblematic Coat of Arms that encompasses all of Nigeria’s most important features.

In addition to the national flag, the Nigeria Coat of Arms is a globally recognized symbol of the country and it is accorded that same regard as the Nigeria flag.

Who Designed The National Coat of Arms

Nigeria National Flag & Coat of Arms Illustration by Yusuf Odukoya of Branditechture.

The Nigeria Coat of Arms was designed and created in accordance to the National Flag and Coat of Arms Ordinance, No. 48 of 1960. Despite the fact that it has been designed since May 20, 1960, it was not officially adopted by the Nigerian government until 1975, after a series of revisions to the initial designs.

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Before the official adoption of the Coat of Arms, each of Nigeria’s political regions; including the Eastern, Northern, Western, and Mid-western region used to have their own Coat of Arms. This was totally acceptable as component states were allowed to have their own flag, anthem, and Coat of Arms under the federal system law. They even had their own Police Force, known as the Regional Police Force, although the FG maintained a general oversight with the NPF. The only exception to this is printing of currency.

Sadly, because of the role of the Northern Police forces in the infamous riot of 1966 (a.k.a the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom), the Gowon regime disbanded the regional police forces. The process of disbandment started in October 1966 and was complete by the end of 1972.

Who Designed The Nigeria Coat of Arms?

The Nigeria national flag was designed by Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi OFR (born 10 May 1936) as an entry to the competition for the design of the national flag in 1959. However, it may shock you to find out that the originator and designer of the Nigeria Coat of Arms was not officially documented and is unknown to this day.

Nonetheless, there are two popular albeit unconfirmed reports narrating 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 ( who also designed the National Coat of Arms of The Bahamas). 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 stems from a research carried out by Dr Raphael James, the DG of the Center For Research, Information and Media Development (CRIMMD), in collaboration with the United Kingdom Representative Mr. John Redhead in an article published on Authorityngr.com in 2020. According to him, the Nigerian Coat of Arms was designed by Messrs Beverley Pick Associated, London. He said the first Coat of Arms draft, which had the motto: ‘Unity and Faith’, was used in Nigeria for its Independence day on October 1, 1960. 

After some time, the motto was changed to “Peace, Unity, and Freedom” , but in 1978, a new motto; “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” became officially approved. Till today, the motto of the Nigeria National Coat of Arms remains “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”.

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Unfortunately, this subject seems to be masked by uncertainties, no thanks to the lack of official documentation. For this reason, the designer of the Nigerian Coat of Arms is said to be unknown.

While you may have read somewhere that the Coat of Arms was also designed by the same Taiwo Akinkunmi in another competition, I can categorically tell you to disregard such reports. Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi who is still very much alive as at the time of writing this piece, had confirmed to researchers that he only designed the Nigeria flag and DID NOT design the Nigeria Coat of Arms.

Notable Features Of The Nigerian Coat of Arms

The Nigeria Coat of Arms is a heraldic symbol that aims to portray national unity, power, and authority. It has seven permanent features, with each of them symbolizing a particular virtue about Nigeria.

Here are the seven permanent features of the Nigerian Coat of Arms and their meanings;

  1. The Eagle Crest , symbolizing Authority
  2. The Black shield which represents the fertile soil of Nigeria
  3. Two white wavy bands on the black shield, which form the letter “Y” to denote the rivers Niger and Benue — the country’s main inland waterways.
  4. Two white horses on either side of the shield, symbolizing Dignity.
  5. Grassy field with yellow flowers know as Yellow Trumpet or Costus Spectabilis, the national flower of Nigeria.
  6. Green white green wreath band on top of the shield as a reference to the Nigeria flag.
  7. 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 Nigeria Coat of Arms. Like it was mentioned earlier, they all have their meanings all of which will be explained further in this article.

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Facts about the Nigeria Coat of Arms

  1. Except in conformity with a license granted by a Ministry in the Government in accordance with the law, the Nigeria flag and Coat of Arms Act of 1990 forbids the display of the Nigeria Coat of Arms.
  2. Up until 1975, the Eastern, Western, Mid-western, and the Northern regions of Nigeria used a different Coat of Arms.
  3. To promote national symbols and emphasize their significance, September 16 is celebrated as the National Ordinance Day.
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