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10 Things to Know About the Flag of Nigeria

Chimnonso Onyekwelu

Nigeria’s history has always amazed me. Its foundation has continuously kept me nostalgic due to its diverse cultures, languages, and tribes. Which other African country could boast of over 500 indigenous languages and more than 250 ethnic groups. This country is proudly the most populous country in Africa, home to Africa’s richest man and other recognised billionaires.
More than these, the most attractive thing in my opinion about Nigeria lies in her flag. The Nigerian flag has 2 colours that symbolize the diverse cultural wealth of the country. So important was the design of this identity that it was selected from 2,870 suggestions. Curious to find out more about the Nigerian flag? Then, sit back and enjoy this ride with me.

10 Unique Things to Know About the Nigerian Flag

1. Flag history

In 1959, there was an advertisement requesting submissions of the design of the new flag of Nigeria. Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, from Ibadan, Ogun state was a 23-year-old student at Norwich Technical College, London who came across the advertisement and submitted his design.

His original design had a radiating sun badge which was on the centre of the vertical white stripe. Before its adoption, several judges voted for the removal of the badge and after it was removed, the flag was adopted. During Nigeria’s independence on the 1st of October 1960, the Nigeria flag flew for the first time.

2. Colour choice

If you would take a closer look at the colour of the flag, it not only shows the green and white colour but what it went through to get its independence. Before now, the North had their cultures, their food, their dialects, and their beliefs which were different from that of the south.

After independence, they all had to thrive in the uniqueness of those differences in order to live as one. The symbol of peace also shows how they came to understand their beliefs and work together for the common good.

3. Green colour in the Nigerian flag

The green colour is both on the left and right sides of the flag. Nigeria is blessed with so many mineral resources like gold, silver, crude oil, agricultural produce, coal, etc. which are from different parts of Nigeria boosting its Gross Domestic Products in exports. The green colour symbolizes its wealth of natural resources. This wealth also reflects its people, culture, delicacies, and tribes.

4. White colour in the Nigerian flag

Before its independence in 1960, Lord Lugard amalgamated the north and south in 1914. This brought together different people under one identity. The white colour of the Nigerian flag symbolizes peace and unity. The Igbos, Hausas and Yoruba were united to achieve a peaceful conference of its people after British colonization.

5. Flag size

Originally, the design of the flag comes down to 3 sizes which are specifically determined. The three distinct sizes are large, medium, and small. The large size measures 1.2 meters in width and 2.4 meters in length: the medium flag measures 0.9 meters in width and 1.8 meters in length while the small flag measures 0.6 meters in width and 1.2 meters in length. The small flag is hung on vehicles while the large flag is hung on a mast.

6. Coat of arms

Another incredible source of admiration for me was the coat of arms, especially seeing the two horses by their side. The coat of arms is another identity of the people of Nigeria and if found on the flag of Nigeria it represents the President of Nigeria. It consists of a black shield having a wavy white Y shape. The wavy white Y shape symbolizes the great River Niger and Benue’s confluence at Lokoja, Kogi state.

The black shield stands to represent Nigeria’s fertile soil whereas the two supporting horses represent her dignity. The eagle at the top of the coat of arms represents Nigeria’s strength. The flower on which the shield stands is the costus spectabilis which was chosen to be included because it is a predominant flower found all over the country.

The flower represents the beauty of Nigeria. The wreath above the shield is the flag of Nigeria. On the base of the coat of arms is the motto of Nigeria; “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”. This was formerly written as “Peace, Unity, and Freedom”.

7. Flag Etiquette

The flag of Nigeria is a powerful symbol and authority. It tells the history and aspirations of the Nigerian people. One of the sacred injunctions about the flag which has been upheld by all Nigerians till date is the instruction never to sell the flag in the market. Moreso, there are laws forbidding anybody from exhibiting it in a bad condition or a defaced state.

8. Flag treatment

It is a common rule of thumb to hoist the flag ceremoniously and slowly in the morning and lowered slowly in the evening of the same day( from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm). The flag does not sleep. Old or worn-out flags must never be displayed and it is mostly disposed of by burning with respect. Likewise, it’s noteworthy that where the Nigerian flag hangs in a room or anywhere, no other flag, insignia or emblem can be placed higher than it.

9. Other Nigerian Flag Representation

Asides from the popular flag of Nigeria, there are special ensigns of the flag of Nigeria. During the president’s independence day speech on October 1, 2021, I noticed some other flags which weren’t familiar and I found out that the flags showed the person giving the speech as the President and Commander in chief.

For example, the colour of the flag of the president had the coat of arms in the middle of the Nigeria flag while the flag of the commander in chief has green, white, black, and red colours. Also, the Nigerian army, the Nigerian Defense Force, and the Nigerian navy all have their respective ensigns.

10. Flag display

In an auditorium, the flag should be on the right end of the front row. The flag can also be displayed on vehicles but can only be done by dignitaries such as the president, commander in chief, senate president, Vice President, the Chief Justice of the federation, state governors and their deputies as well as others permitted by the protocol.

Even when permitted, there are provisions as to the specific place the flag should be. This is on the radiator cap or it can be attached to the vehicle chassis’  right fender.

The flag of Nigeria is a symbol of its cultural heritage and its instrument of power. It is a source of pride for many Nigerians and respected by other nations. It reflects the history of its people and the planned future of its citizens. What’s more? The significance of its colour is a perfect representation of the past, present and future of this great nation.

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