Nigerian last names are mostly derived from those of the two major ethnic groups, namely Yoruba, belonging to the kingdom of Ile-Ife, and Igbo, belonging to native south-central and south-eastern Nigeria and some other parts of Africa. Both ethnic groups have a great influence on the names and culture of the country.
Nigeria is located on the western coast of Africa, and the estimated population of the country is 218 million (1). Read the post to find a list of Nigerian last names that reflect the origins and traditions of the country.
Nigerian Last Names Or Surnames, With Meanings
A spiritual name, Abara is a Nigerian last name with Igbo roots. The word refers to a spirit.
A follower of God or a server of the Almighty is known as Addullahi. This Nigerian surname finds its origin in the Arabic language.
A surname of Yoruba origin, Abiola in Nigeria, refers to a person born in wealth and honor.
A surname of lesser popularity, Abimbola denotes someone who is born rich. This Nigerian family name finds its origin in Yoruba.
Abubakar is a popular Nigerian last name with roots in the Yoruba ethnic tribe. The name means “noble.”
With roots in the African tribe Yoruba, Adébáyọ̀ is a family name meaning royalty, king, or crown.
Originating from the African ethnic group Yoruba, Adeoye is a tribal surname meaning ‘crown.’
This surname is popular amongst the families of the Yoruba tribe. This African term Adeyemi denotes someone worthy of becoming a king.
Agbani is a surname with Yoruba roots and is synonymous with the phrase “Praise the Lord.”
Originating amongst the Igbo ethnic people, Aguta is a surname that means ‘innumerable.’ According to a submission from Uganda, this word also means “laughter.”
A female-oriented surname, Agwuegbo denotes times when hardships have been overcome. The last name finds its origin amongst the Igbo tribe.
“Small but strong” is the meaning of this Nigerian surname of Yoruba origin.
A surname of Yoruba roots, Akintola signifies that becoming brave is as honorable as being wealthy.
A powerful last name, Akinyemi, is a Nigerian surname of Yoruba origin. It refers to someone who is born to be a soldier or warrior.
With roots in the Ibibio ethnic African group, this surname denotes a prime or noble member, a leader maybe.
Aku is a Nigerian family name of Igbo origin. It represents good economic fortune or wealth.
Although Alana is more popular as a given female name, variations of this word are also found as surnames in Nigeria.
Originating amongst the Igbo people of Africa, Alaneme is an amalgamation of two words. Ala means land, while neme refers to doing something. This surname refers to an active piece of land.
A popular surname amongst the Islamic groups across the world, especially in Nigeria, Ali finds its roots in the Arabic language. The word refers to a champion, someone of height and elevation.
A surname of Greek origin, Alison means “light.” Its roots are also found in England and Scotland, where it is a patronymic name referring to “Allen’s son.”
Aliu is a Nigerian last name with English roots. It is synonymous with someone who is “remarkable.”
This African surname refers to one who can predict tomorrow. Amaechi is a Nigerian surname of Igbo origin.
A strong surname of Yoruba origin, Anenih denotes a God-bearing last name.
Asaju denotes a leader or head of warriors. This is a powerful Nigerian surname.
Originating from the Igala tribe of Africa, this Nigerian last name means “Father of everyone.”
Awolowo is a Nigerian last name with its roots in the African Yoruba tribe. The name speaks of the dignity found in the oracle.
A single syllable surname Azi, pronounced with emphasis as Azih, this Nigerian surname means “infinite or unending.”
A word found in many languages across the world, especially Indian, Baba refers to a title given to an elder. It means “father.”
An elongation of the word ‘baba,’ this Nigerian last name of Hausa origin denotes the master of a household.
Balogun is an African surname with Yoruba roots. It is a title bestowed upon a family who are warlords.
Bolaji is a popular surname commonly found in Nigeria. This name was often heard amongst original African tribals.
Bankola is a rare surname with traces in Nigeria, Africa. It rooted back to the Yoruba ethnic groups and was given to sons who helped in building houses.
A word from the Efik language of Nigeria, Bassey is a surname that means “God” or “The Lord.”
Originating in the Latin word Bellus, Bello is a Nigerian surname that refers to beautiful or handsome.
This is a matronymic surname of Yoruba origin. It refers to someone who is born on a Sunday.
Synonymous with a person who the Almighty always guides, Chidubem is a highly respectable Nigerian surname.
Chukwu is the last name with African Igbo roots. The name means “greatness,” “a spiritual being or God himself.”
Danjuma continues as a Nigerian family name and is a name of Yoruba origin. The name means “born on Friday.”
Referring to having a lot of wealth, Esuola is a Nigerian surname originating from the Yoruba tribe.
Egbe was originally used as a nickname but later adopted as a family name. The name comes from the Yoruba ethnicity and means “kite.”
There is a history behind this surname, which means “benevolent” or a “doer of good deeds.” The name originates from the Alwa Ibom and Calabar regions of southeast Nigeria and is also popular in the Caribbean.
This unisex African surname is unique and means “calm” or “peace.”
A common Nigerian family name of Igbo origin is Eze. The word is a title given to a person of respect. Eze means “king.”
Falade is a unique surname. The meaning of this word translates into a full sentence. When the Lord is said to have mingled with royalty, it is called Falade. This African surname is of Yoruba origin.
Denoting a person under God’s protection, Folorunsho is a Nigerian last name with a Yoruba origin.
This Nigerian surname is male-oriented and refers to “one who is independent.”
Guh is a Hebrew surname meaning “gift of God.” It has been found as a common family name in Nigeria.
A patronymic surname, Hassan, has Arabic roots and signifies manly, strong, and handsome boys.
Ibeh is a Nigerian family name originating from Igbo ethnicity. It signifies a relationship of friendship, family, or even an acquaintance.
Ibrahim is probably the most common Nigerian surname. It is the Arabic version of Avram in Hebrew and denotes the “Nation’s Father.” Ibrahim was an Islamic Prophet of God.
When one seeks refuge in the protection of elders, it is termed as Igbinedion. This Nigerian surname is of Benin origin.
Igwe is a surname of Igbo roots and is only found amongst the royalty. The term means “heaven.”
Also a nickname, Ihejirika, is the last name of Igbo origin. This pompous name means “I have the greater one.”
Ikande signifies a person with ample love. It is a surname found in Nigeria.
A male-oriented surname, Kalu originates in the Igbo tribe of Africa and refers to the “Thunder God.”
The meaning of this Arabic last name is synonymous with the source of light. It is a common surname found in Nigeria.
Kikelomo is a female-oriented surname of Yoruba origin. It signifies a child who must be loved, cherished, and pampered.
Kporaro signifies progress. It is a rare Nigerian surname.
This popular Nigerian family name refers to a “good-looking boy.” Abass Lawal is a famous Nigerian footballer.
A surname of Igbo origin, Meremikwu is an optimistic name meaning “to become better” or “rise higher.”
Mohammed is one of the most common Islamic names and surnames across the world. It has Arabic roots and means “the one who is praised.”
Originating from the tribe of Igbo ethnicity, Njoku is a common Nigerian last name referring to the deity of the guardian of the Yam.
A surname full of hope and spirituality, Nnadi of Igbo origin means “my father is living” or “my God lives.”
Nwadike is a Nigerian family name originating within the Igbo clan of Africa. It signifies a solid bloodline and refers to a strong person. It is also synonymous to a “hero’s son.”
Originating in the ethnic clans of Africa, this Igbo name is a popular Nigerian surname meaning the “king’s child.”
Nwaigbo is a personal surname belonging to the Igbo tribe of Africa. It means “child of Igbo” and refers to a baby of the people of the clan.
A child born into a family with a strong lineage bears this surname. Nwaike is a family name of African-Igbo origin.
Obi means “heart” and is a popular surname amongst the Igbo people of Africa.
This Nigerian surname upholds family and is synonymous with the thought that every home is the greatest. Obiaka is a surname of Igbo origin.
This is a family name of Igbo origin. Though the Africans worshipped their King, this name means “the King is greater than home.”
Obiakpani denotes peace and clarity. The surname of Igbo origin means the “end of suspense, the heart rests now.”
A name for a warrior, Obianagha, is a Nigerian family name referring to someone who came to fight. It finds its roots in the Igbo clan.
The roots of this surname are found in Nigeria itself though according to the Igbo language, Odoemene means “yellow reluctance.”
A Nigerian name stemming from the Yoruba people, Ojo means “vigor, shine, or splendor.”
According to the Igbo literature, Eke is a day of the week. Okeke refers to people born on Eke.
A name denoting darkness, this African surname refers to someone born at night.
Okoro means “greatness.” This last name originates from the Igbo tribe and refers to a child born to a born-free man.
This Nigerian surname finds its origin in the Igbo ethnicity of Africa.
This is one of the surnames of Ikpede origin, and it means “rich man” or “big man.” This surname means ‘firstborn.’
Okusanya is a Nigerian last name of Yoruba origin. The name is symbolic of the belief that one gets rewarded for their sufferings.
A patronymic surname with Igbo roots, this name refers to a person surrounded by honor.
A hopeful surname derived from Yoruba culture, Olanrewaju speaks of one’s wealth moving forward and growing in the future.
A surname of Yoruba origin, Olowe refers to a person capable of calling many people for help.
One who is born on a holy ground is called Oni, according to the Nigerian last names.
A country of high religious beliefs, the Nigerian surname Onyema asks the question, “who can predict what is in God’s mind?” The name finds roots in the Igbo clan.
Onyilogwu is a common family name in Nigeria. This name was first found among the Igbo people. It is synonymous with someone unaffected by black magic.
With roots in the ethnic group of Igbo in Africa, the last name Osondu signifies running for life.
A name with Yoruba and Nigerian roots, Owayale denotes the coming home of the river goddess. It is a popular Yoruba surname.
A Nigerian common last name of Yoruba origin, this female-oriented name meaning wealth is sweet. The highest concentration of this surname is found in the Ondo region of Nigeria.
The surname Peter has many derivations. It stems from the Greek word Petros, meaning rock or stone, or from the Latin word ‘Petra.’ Samuel Peter is a Nigerian heavyweight boxer born in 1980.
A phrase in itself, the meaning of the last name Popoola says that people who love God are intelligent. The name stems from the Yoruba clan of Africa.
Derived from the English word ‘priest’ or priest as per Old English, Prest is a surname n from Britain’s Anglo-Saxon tribes.
Rabui is a surname used popularly in Nigeria. It originates from Hausa and denotes something meaningful.
According to the Islamic religion, Rafiu is the Networking God. This Arabic surname is derived from the Arabic term ‘rafa,’ which means to raise or lift up. The Nigerian surname also means ‘noble.’
Razzaq finds its roots in Persian, Arabic, and Urdu languages. According to Islam, it is one of the many names of God. The word denotes a provider and also means sustained.
Sami means prominent. It is a surname of Arabic origin and is found popularly amongst Nigerians.
A surname popular all across the world, Samuel is a name of Hebrew origin. It denotes the “name of God.” According to the Old Testament, Samuel was the last ruling judge.
This surname originates in Libya. It refers to a person from Senouss, which is a Libyan region. The Libyan dynasty was called Sanusi till the 2969 coup dismantled it.
A family name of Arabic origin, Shehu, is synonymous with an authoritative figure or a sheikh.
This is a Hebrew word denoting a “peaceful man.” Sulaimom is equivalent to the English name Solomon. Solomon was the King of Israel and also an Islamic Prophet.
According to African mythology, Taye and Taiye are considered the first pair of twins to be born in the world. Taiwo is a Yoruba surname referring to these twins.
Tersoo is a family name commonly found in Nigeria amongst the people of Tiv. The name denotes the love of a father.
Tyjani is the last name of Hausa origin. It is a unisex name denoting a gift or one of greatness that cannot be matched.
Uba is a surname of African origin. It is synonymous with “The Lord” or “Father.”
Originating within the ethnic Igbo people of Africa, this surname refers to thoughts of God or The Father.
Similar to Uchce and common in the Igbo tribe, Uche means will, sense, or intention. A variant of this surname is Uchechukwu meaning ‘God’s will.’
Signifying the thoughts of God, this Nigerian surname belongs to Igbo origin.
Ukpabi is a deity’s name. The Nigerian surname finds its roots in the Igbo clan of Africa.
A Nigerian surname of Igbo origin, Ugochukwu refers to “God’s glory.” It also refers to the “Eagle belonging to God.”
Umaru is an ancient Arabic word and finds roots in the Urdu language. It is derived from the word ‘umr’ meaning age or life.
Umeh means “strength.” This last name originated amongst the Igbo people of Africa.
Umunna is a family name popularly heard of in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. It is a name of Igbo origin and signifies “The Father’s children.”
A surname of Igbo origin, Unigwe means “heaven.”
A surname of Arabic origin, Uthman is a mythological name. It refers to a wise and powerful person. Uthman was a companion of Prophet Mohammad.
Originating from the tribe of Igbo, Uzoegbu is a Nigerian surname referring to the safety of one who reads.
The surname Yakubu is a variation of the name Jacob. It has Swahili roots and means “Supplanter.”
Yusuf is a common Islamic surname. It is popular in Nigeria and finds roots in Aramaic, Persian, Turkish, and Arabic cultures. In the Hebrew language, the name denotes ‘God increases.’
Zabu is a Nigerian last name meaning “gold.”
Discover More Names
When you have to choose a name for your baby, a few hundreds of names may not be just enough. Keep digging our mine of baby names until you find that one precious gem.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How have Nigerian last names evolved over time?
Nigerian last names have evolved over time to reflect the cultural and social changes that have taken place in the country. Despite becoming modern, the names continue to be a testament to the rich and diverse history of Nigeria and its people.
2. How do Nigerians view their last names in relation to their personal identity?
In Nigeria, last names hold significant importance in identifying an individual’s family background, cultural heritage, and ethnic group. Typically, a Nigerian’s last name indicates their father’s name, and in some cases, it can also signify their ancestral lineage or family history.
3. Do Nigerians have two last names?
It is uncommon for Nigerians to have two last names. They may have hyphenated surnames, but they make up a single name. However, Nigerian naming conventions do not have a tradition of two last names. Generally, last names in Nigeria reflect their occupation, clan, and where they originated. They also consider a person’s physical appearance. Many family names also arise from religion and function to connect people.
4. How do Nigerian last names impact identity and sense of belonging for individuals and families?
Nigerian last names embed deep cultural insights. They reflect their bearers’ social lives, religion, emotions, and worldviews. Nigerian last names impact identity by linking people to their ancestral roots, imparting a sense of continuity with the previous generations. It allows a person to understand their family history better. Surnames also make one feel pride in their heritage and identity. They encourage the bearer to celebrate their roots.
Last names or surnames usually represent a family’s identity and our link to the past. They provide us with the knowledge of our ancestors and how the family started. So, if you are looking for Nigerian last names, explore the list provided and go through the details of each name. We have gathered some popular and unpopular Nigerian surnames that you will find interesting.
Infographic: Nigerian Last Names Or Surnames, With Meanings
An interesting fact about Nigerian last names is that they originate in two major ethnic groups of the state. So, in the following infographic, we have included a list of Nigerian last names along with their meanings that you can read through to know more about the people of Nigeria.
Embark on a captivating journey through Nigerian culture with this video showcasing the 70 most popular Nigerian surnames.
- Nigeria facts and figures.