A coat of arm is typically a heraldic symbol. It originated in ancient traditions of England and Scotland. They are signs of power and authority and passed down from one generation to the next.
It is traditionally unique to an individual person, family, state, organisation or corporation. The whole design usually consists of a crest and motto.
Having been colonized by the British, it is no surprise the tradition rubbed off on the colonies even after their independence.
The Nigerian coat of arm went through series of modifications before the current design which was finally adopted.
Nigeria coat of arm is accorded the same respect as the Nigerian flag.
Under the Flags and Coat of Arms Act 1990, the law forbids the use or display of the Nigeria coat of arms other than in conformity with a license granted by a Minister of the Government or according to the law.
When Was The Nigerian Coat Of Arm Designed?
It was created alongside the Nigerian flag and approved by Queen Elizabeth II on December 7, in 1971; by a Bahamian clergyman and artist identified as Rev. Dr Hervis L. Bain Jr. Another report says it was designed during the ascent to power of the military director, General Murtala Muhammed.
Nigeria Coat Of Arm Design
The coat of arm has a black shield with two white lines that forms a “Y” shape which is flanked by two white horses. On top of the black shied is a red colored eagle with wings spread out and standing on a white and green wreath.
Below the horses and the shield, is a green field and red and white colored flowers. At the base is a golden band on which the nation’s motto was visibly written- “Unity And Faith, Peace And Progress”.
The Nigeria coat of arm is one of the strongest symbol of the Nigerian authority. Though with slight color variations, they are used as a stamp to the seal of the President, Vice President, House of the House of Representatives and the House of Senate.
No document has officially been handed out by the government explaining the symbolic meanings of the several parts and colors of the coat of arm. However the following are the generally perceived symbolic meaning of the coat of arm.
The Black Shield – This represents Nigerian’s fertile soil.
The Two Horses – The two horses on the side of the shield represents dignity.
The Green and White Wreath – The green and white wreath on top of the shield represents the rich soil of Nigeria
The Eagle – The eagle at the top of the shield, standing on the Green and White band represent strength.
The Red Flowers – The Red Flowers at the base are called costus spectabilis. This is known as the Nigerian national flower. It represents the beauty of Nigeria.
The White Letter ”Y” – This represents River Benue and River Niger which is the third largest river in Africa, after the Nile and the Congo-Chambesi. The two rivers meet at the confluence town, Lokoja.
The Golden Band Around The Base – This carries the Nigerian National Motto since 1978 ”Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”. The motto was formerly ”Peace , Unity and Freedom”.
By the year 1960, the Northern, Western, Mid- Western and the Eastern region of Nigeria used different coat of arms.
With the creation of new states from the 4 regions under the administration of Lieutenant Col. Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of State, the Federal government put an end to the use of different coat of arms in 1975.
Following that a single coat of arm was adopted, serving as a single of unity.
At a time when there are many rising divisive factors in the country, it will be worth it to know the history of the country’s coat of arm.