Top 100 Nigerian Last Names or Surnames

Nigeria, or officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. Inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups, this multinational state has a wide variety of cultures speaking over 500 distinct languages. As Africa is made up of 54 countries, its naming systems are incredibly diverse. Tribal, colonial, cultural, and linguistic influences have a part to play in the evolution of surnames in society. Before the coming of the colonialists, from the 1860s, there were no surnames in most parts of Nigeria until their colonizers imposed them. Given names were, therefore, adopted in local languages as surnames. While African last names gained in popularity around the globe, they particularly spread all throughout the United States and Europe due to the slave trade forced upon African colonies.

In West African culture, words evoke power, and certain names generate significant energy. Just as names define an individual, last names form the base of the narrative. Nigerian family names usually trace the origin of the families, clan, or even the religious group they belong to, and they reflect the background as well. Thus, Nigerian last names have a rich history and tradition that come from indigenous, colonialist, and diasporic roots. Popular Nigerian last names are either based on the aspirations of a parent about their child’s future, related to God or have a religious connotation. Given below are the best Nigerian surnames that give one their identity, help claim ownership to a community or family, and maintain the Nigerian naming culture to date.

Nigerian Surnames or Family Names

This compilation of common Nigerian last names with relevant meanings will come to your aid when you’re looking for a suitable surname for your little one.

1. Abara

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘spirit’.

2. Abdullah

This surname of Arabic origin means ‘the one who follows God’ or ‘the servant of God’.

3. Abiola

Abiola has a Yoruba origin, and it means ‘born in honour and wealth’.

4. Abimbola

This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘to be born wealthy’.

5. Abubakar

This is one of the popular last names of Yoruba origin; it means ‘noble’.

6. Adebayo

This Yoruba surname means ‘the crown meets joy’.

7. Abdullahi

A variation of the Arabic personal name Abdullah, this last name means ‘the servant of God’.

8. Adesina

This surname of Yoruba origin is apt for a long-awaited child. It means ‘crown opens the way’.

9. Aguta

This surname means ‘laughter’.

10. Aku

This surname of Igbo origin represents ‘wealth’.

11. Bolaji

Bolaji is a Yoruba name meaning ‘Wake up with wealth’.

12. Balogun

The name means ‘meet at war’ or ‘warlord’ in Yoruba.

13. Babangida

This Nigerian surname means ‘The master of the house’ or ‘firstborn son’.

14. Bello

Derived from Latin Bellus, this surname of Spanish origin means ‘handsome’.

15. Bankole

Derived from Yoruba origin, the name means ‘help build my house’.

16. Baba

Baba is an honorific term of Persian origin, and it means ‘father, grandfather, wise old man, sir’. It also means ‘the first born’.

17. Bennet

This is an Anglo-Norman English surname with Norman roots. Bennet comes from Benedict that is derived from Latin Benedictus, meaning ‘blessed’.

18. Bassey

Bassey means ‘God’ in the Efik language of Nigeria.

19. Chris

The name has a Greek origin, and it means ‘bearing Christ’.

20. Chukwu

This surname of Igbo Origin means ‘God’, ‘spiritual being’, and ‘great’.

21. Dambe

The name “Dambe” derives from the word boxe, and appears in Bole language as Dembe. It is a form of martial art of the Hausa people from West Africa.

22. Danjuma

Used mainly by the African-Hausatribe, this surname means ‘son of Friday’.

23. Dauda

This West African surname creates a mind that is ‘beloved’.

24. Ejiofor

Derived from the Igbo tribe, this surname means ‘one who acts in good faith’.

25. Etienam

Originating from the Calabar and Alwa Ibom regions of southeastern Nigeria, Etienam means ‘a doer of good’ or ‘benevolent’.

26. Eesuola

This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘to have a lot of wealth’.

27. Egbe

This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘kite’.

28. Emem

This African surname means ‘peace’ in Ibibo.

29. Eze

This surname of Igbo origin is a title of respect. It means ‘King’.

30. Falade

This is one of the unique African surnames of Yoruba origin, and it means ‘Oracle is the crown’.

31. Folorunsho

This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘under God’s protection’.

32. Gbadamosi

This name of Nigerian origin surname means ‘Introspective and philosophical’.

33. Guh

This surname of Hebrew origin means ‘Gift of God’.

34. Hassan

This surname of Arabic origin means ‘handsome’ or ‘strong and manly’.

35. Ibeh

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘In one’s relation as a friend, family or acquaintance’.

36. Igwe

Derived from Edoid language, Igwe means ‘Sky or heaven.’ It is a title of honour.

37. Igbinedion

This surname of Benin origin means ‘seeking refuge in elder’s protection’.

38. Ihejirika

This Igbo surname means ‘the one that I have is greater’.

39. Ikande

This surname means ‘someone who is full of love’. 

40. Ibrahim

It means ‘Father of many’ in Hebrew.

41. Iwuchukwu

This Christian surname of Igbo tribe means ‘God’s covenant is unwavering’.

42. Jacob

Derived from Late Latin Jacobus, from Greek Iakovos, from Hebrew (Yaʿqob), Jacob means ‘seizing by the heel’, ‘supplanting’.

43. Jimoh

Derived from African Swahili, Jimoh is a form of Jumah, which means ‘born on Friday’ or ‘the congregation’.

44. Konkwo

Konkwo means ‘born on Nkwo’ in Igbo, as Nkwo is one of the days of the Igbo week.

45. Kalu

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘God of Thunder’.

46. Kikelomo

This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘a child who should be pampered or cherished’.

47. Kazah

This surname of Arabic origin means ‘the origin of light’.

48. Kanye

This surname belonging to the Igbo tribe means ‘let’s give’ or ‘to give honour or tribute’. It is also a Yoruba surname referring to ‘next in line in chieftaincy’.

49. Kporaro

Kpo is ‘Go’, Ra means ‘Of’, and Aro means ‘Front’, so this Nigerian surname means ‘The person at the front’.

50. Kolawole

Found in Atlantic-Niger Africa region, Kolawole means ‘wealth’.

51. Lawal

This surname of Arabic origin means ‘first’.

52. Musa

Musa is a name of Arabic or Turkish origin based on the name Moses. It means ‘saved from the water’.

53. Mohammed

This surname has Arabic origins, and it means ‘praised’, ‘commendable’, ‘laudable’.

54. Mmeremikwu

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘to be better’ or ‘to be higher’

55. Mustapha

This Arabic surname means ‘The chosen one’. It is one of the nicknames of Prophet Muhammad.

56. Matins

This name is derived from a personal name based on the Arabic name Matin, meaning ‘strong’ or ‘powerful’. It also comes from Al-Matin, meaning ‘the Almighty’ is an attribute of Allah.

57. Manuel

Originating in the Hebrew name Immanu’el, Manuel means ‘God with us’ or ‘The son of Emanuel’.

58. Njoku

Njoku Ji is the guardian deity of the yam for the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria.

59. Nnadi

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘my God is alive’ or ‘my father lives’.

60. Nwadike

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘this person is strong’ or ‘son of the hero’.

61. Nwaeze

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘child of the king’.

62. Nwaigbo

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘child of the Igbo people’.

63. Nnachi

Originated from the Igbo ethnic group of eastern Nigeria, Nnachi means ‘God father’.

64. Nwabili

A variant of Nabili, Nwabila has an Arabic origin meaning ‘honourable’ or ‘noble’.

65. Okoro

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘Greatness’ or ‘Child of the free-born man’.

66. Onyema

Onyema is an Igbo surname meaning ‘Who can predict the mind of God?’

67. Obianagha

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘he came to fight’.

68. Okpara

This surname means ‘first born’.

69. Okusanya

This surname of Yoruba origin symbolizes the belief ‘God has rewarded me for my sufferings’.

70. Oladoyinbo

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘honour surrounds him’.

71. Okon

This surname of African origin refers to someone ‘Born in the night’.

72. Ojo

This Yoruba surname means ‘Splendour’, ‘shine’, or ‘vigour’.

73. Okeke

This surname refers to someone ‘Born on Eke’, which is one of the days of the Igbo week.

74. Owayale

This surname in Yoruba means ‘the river goddess came home’.

75. Odoemene

Derived from Igbo tribe, Odoemene means ‘yellow reluctance’.

76. Popoola

This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘Intelligent people love God’.

77. Peter

Derived from Greek Petros, meaning ‘stone’, ‘rock’, Peter refers to ‘the son of Peter’.

78. Prest

Derived from the Old English word preost, which means priest, Prest is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain.

79. Rabiu

This Hausa given name or surname means ‘meaningful’.

80. Rafiu

This name of Arabic origin is one of the names of God in Islam and Gods of Networking. It stems from the Arabic verb rafa, meaning ‘to lift or to raise’. Rafiu means ‘noble’.

81. Razzaq

This surname of Arabic, Persian and Urdu origin is one of the names of God in Islam, and it means ‘provider’ or ‘sustained’.

82. Raheem

This surname is one of the names of Allah in Islam. A short for Abdu r-Raḥīm, it means ‘Servant of the Merciful’.

83. Sanusi

Sanusi was the name of the Lybian dynasty until the 1969 coup and means ‘the one who comes from the Senouss’.

84. Sami

This surname of Arabic origin means ‘prominent, exalted’.

85. Sulaimom

Originating from Hebrew, Sulaimon means ‘man of peace’. It corresponds to the English name Solomon who was a Muslim prophet and King of Israel.

86. Samuel

This surname of Hebrew origin means either ‘name of God’. Samuel was the last of the ruling judges in the Old Testament.

87. Tyjani

This Nigerian surname means ‘unmatched greatness’ or ‘Gift’.

88. Tersoo

Commonly found among the Tiv people of Nigeria, this surname means ‘father’s love’.

89. Taiwo

This surname of Yoruba origin means ‘the first twin to taste the world’. Taye and Taiye are the variants of this surname.

90. Ugochukwu

This Igbo surname means ‘God’s Eagle’, ‘Crown of God’ or ‘Glory of God’.

91. Uba

Uba of African origin means ‘Father’, ‘Lord’.

92. Uthman

This surname of Arabic origin means ‘wise’, ‘most powerful’, and ‘intuitive’. This mythological surname belonged to Uthman, Prophet Muhammad’s companion.

93. Unigwe

This surname of Igbo origin meaning ‘heaven’.

94. Ukpabi

This frequently used surname of Igbo origin refers to ‘the name of a deity.’

95. Uche

Common among the Igbo people, Uche means ‘intention’, ‘will’, ‘mind’, or ‘sense’.  Uchechukwu is its variant, which means ‘God’s will’ or ‘God’s intention’.

96. Umaru

Umaru originates from Urdu or the ancient Arabic word umr meaning ‘life’.

97. Umunna

Umunna is a form of patrilineage maintained by the Igbo tribe. It means ‘children of the father’.

98. Uchenna

This surname of Igbo origin means ‘God’s thought’.

99. Yakubu

A variant of Jacob, Yakubu means ‘Supplanter’ and is of Swahili origin.

100. Yusuf

This Arabic, Aramaic, Turkish and Persian name, means ‘God increases’ in Hebrew.

Last names provide a bridge to the past, and those from Africa are no exception. They can tell you about your ancestors’ lives or if these names are in your family tree. The indigenous Nigerian last names and surnames are so reflective and unique that they are favourable as first names, too. Choose one from the given list to shine out in the crowd.

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.