What Currency Does Nigeria Use? Nigerian Currency; All to Know

What Currency Does Nigeria Use
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This blog post answers the question, ‘what currency does Nigeria use?’ and explains everything you need to know about the Nigerian currency. The article discusses the history of the Nigerian currency we know today as the Naira. 

What Currency does Nigeria Use – An Introduction

We all remember being taught about trade by barter in social studies and economics class.

The legal tender known today as the Naira was not always in existence. 

The barter system involves exchanging one item for another.

This was the prevalent system in pre-colonial times.

You may be surprised to know that the system still thrives today. Many people can attest to carrying a bottle of palm oil to the market and returning with yam or garri. 

The need for a uniform mode of payment led to the invention of currency.

However, the first currency Nigerians had was not the naira note. 

Currency in Pre-Colonial Nigeria – What Currency did Nigeria Use?

Currency in pre-colonial Nigeria began with the use of precious/valuable items.

A clear example is cowries.

Before the advent of banknotes and coins, cowries per bag were used.

A typical example of how this was graded/ranked is;

  • 40 cowries = a string
  • 50 cowries = a head 
  • 10 heads = a bag

During the colonial era, the British saw the need to introduce their currency to their colonies, thus introducing ‘shillings.’ 

Although the currency had a hard time competing with cowries, by the 1920s, the use of cowries had died down, and the shillings took over. 

In 1959, the Central Bank of Nigeria was established, but the use of British currency was still prevalent in Nigeria.

By this time, the British Pound had been introduced as well. 

In 1965, it was decided to reissue the country’s currency in different colors to reflect its Republican status. 

In 1973, the first naira notes and coins were made.

The naira notes were in denominations of;

  • N10
  • N5
  • N1, and
  • 0.50k,

while coins were

  • 0.10k
  • 0.20k
  • 0.5k
  • 0.1k, and
  • 1/2k. 

From 1977 to 2007, the Naira has continuously undergone several changes.

All of which will be discussed through the course of this article. 

Related: Nigerian Coat of Arms; History, Meaning, Symbols, Facts, All to Know

What currency does Nigeria have?

Each country has a name for their currency.

As you can see, in the United States, they use Dollars, and India uses Rupees.

Thus, it is not out of place for people to ask questions about the Nigerian currency.  

What Currency does Nigeria Use?

The official currency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is called the Nigerian Naira, often referred to as Naira. 

NGN is the currency code for the Nigeria Naira.

It is the official means of payment, and you see people carrying out transactions with it every day. 

If a foreigner visits Nigeria, they have to change their money to the naira currency to enable payments, as their currency is not tenable in Nigeria.

Nigerian Currency History

Naira, the current Nigerian currency, was introduced on 1 January 1973.

Before that, the currency in use was the Nigerian Pound.  

It is common knowledge that Britain colonized Nigeria, so it is not surprising that pounds were in use as it was absorbed even after independence.

Out of all the former British colonies, Nigeria was the last to stop using pounds and introduce their currency. 

Naira has been in use since its introduction in 1973. There were plans in 2008 to redenominate the currency, but it was suspended. 

Since its inception, the naira currency has continually devalued. The country is doing its best to stop this.

Nigeria Currency Symbol

Every currency usually has a symbol attached to it as a means of identification.

This way, you can tell the currency even when it is not spelled out.

Typically, the symbol comes in handy when solving mathematical problems or writing down amounts digitally or on paper.

The Nigerian currency symbol is ₦. 

It takes on an ‘N’ shape with two strokes over it.

We can say that the ‘N’ is symbolic to Nigeria since it is the first letter of the word.

We can also say it is synonymous with Naira.

The ‘N’ alphabet is almost unique to Nigeria and Nigerians as some people say that they draw strength from it out of other alphabets. 

How Many Currencies does Nigeria Have?

There is only one tenable currency in Nigeria, which is Naira.

Some people may want to argue and say that there are Naira and Kobo, but when last did you see or use Kobo? 

Is it still valuable?

These are questions that need to be answered before providing an answer. 

Naira is the only currency in the country, but it has different denominations, which shall be discussed below. 

It’s important to note that the Central Bank of Nigeria is in charge of handling the currency and issuance of naira notes, which are the different available denominations. 

Related: How to Become a Citizen of Nigeria; A Complete Guide

Denominations of the Naira Currency

Presently, there are eight available denominations in the Nigerian Naira currency.

5 Naira

This is presently the smallest available denomination and was introduced on 2 July 1979.

Interestingly, another denomination was introduced on that day, which is smaller than the 5 naira – the 1 naira note.

However, it has faded away as the Central Bank of Nigeria does not issue it anymore. 

For easy identification and remembrance, the 5 naira note is brown and carries the image of Alhaji Tafewa Balewa, the first prime minister of Nigeria. 

He is positioned on the note as one of the Nigerian heroes. 

10 Naira

The 10 naira note was also introduced on 2 July 1979, the same day as the 5 naira note.

It is the second-smallest denomination in terms of the naira currency. 

The inscriptions at the back signify the three significant tribes as we see the denomination written in the different languages. 

The 10 naira note is red. This will help you identify it quickly. 

The man pictured on the note is Sir. Alvan Ikoku.

He was an activist involved in the fight against colonialism and British imperialism.

He also doubled as an educator and was well-respected.

Indeed, he is one of Nigeria’s heroes. 

20 Naira

The 20 naira note was the first denomination to be issued, and this happened on 11 February 1977. 

As of then, it was the highest available denomination.

However, it is presently the third-lowest denomination in Nigeria. 

The 20 naira has evolved as it was also the first naira note to be polymerized, and this was on 28 February 2007.

It was due to economic reforms, and its success paved the way for the polymerization of other lower denominations. 

It is green in color, with two notable Nigerians on it.

The front of the 20 naira note has General Murtala Muhammed, the 4th Nigerian Head of State, while the back has Ladi Kwali, a renowned potter.

50 Naira

This denomination was introduced to the country in 1991.

It is a unique currency as it is the only naira note that does not have the image of any famous Nigerian.

That is not to say that there are no images on the denomination. The note carries pictures of people who others do not know. 

The 50 naira note has pictures of four people, three men, and one woman. 

It is said that the three men represent the three major tribes in Nigeria, while the woman signifies the middle belt area – a geopolitical zone in Nigeria

The picture depicts unity, and the 50 naira note is blue.

Related: Military Coups in Nigeria; All to Know

100 Naira

To further expand the economy and economic activities, the 100 naira note was introduced in December 1999. 

It carries the face of a reputable hero, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He was the Premier of Western Nigeria 1 October 1954 – 1 October 1960.

He is said to have brought free education to the west, and he will always be remembered for that. 

As a way of celebrating him, his image is on the 100 naira note so that his story can be passed down to generations.

The back has a representation of Zuma rock, and the note’s color is a mixture of red and multicolor.

200 Naira

This was the next denomination to follow the 100 naira note, and it was issued on 1 November 2000. 

The front of the 200 naira note has the picture of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, 1 October 1954 – 15 January 1966.

He was a force to reckon with in that region during the period of Nigerian independence.

He was also the founder of one of the earlier political parties in Nigeria (NPC). 

The back of the 200 naira note has an image of the pyramid of agricultural commodities and livestock farming.

The note’s colors are blue and multicolor.

500 Naira

The 500 naira note is currently the second-highest denomination in Nigeria as of 2020. 

It seemed like the Central Bank of Nigeria kept looking for ways to strengthen the economy.

They introduced this denomination on 4 April 2001, months after the introduction of the 200 naira note.

It is not yet polymerized and has the image of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, and a strong force in journalism.

He was also known as the father of Nationalism. 

The color of the 500 naira note is purple and multicolor, while it has the image of an off-shore rig at the back.

1000 Naira

This was the last denomination to be introduced and is also the highest out of all currency notes. 

The note carries the image of Alhaji Aliyu Mai-Bornu and Dr. Clement Isong on the front of the note, while the back of the 1000 naira note has the image of CBN’s corporate headquarters in Abuja.

Alhaji Aliyu Mai-Bornu and Dr. Clement Isong were the first two governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The 1000 naira note was introduced on 21 October 2005, and the color of the note is purple. 

How to Convert Naira to Kobo in Mathematics

When converting Naira to Kobo, always remember that 100k = N1

So to convert Naira to Kobo, you divide the naira figure by 0.01

  • E.g., N5 to Kobo
  • N5/0.01 = 500k 

And to convert back to Naira, multiply the kobo equivalent by 0.01

  • 500k x 0.01 = N5

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on What Currency does Nigeria Use

What is the Position of Naira in Africa

It is no news that Naira has continually devalued since it was introduced, and currently, the currency ranks 26th in African currencies ranking.

How much is Rich in Nigeria?

It is typical for some people to know how much a person should have before being classified as rich in Nigeria.

However, we cannot give a specific answer to it as that answer is relative. 

Some people are content with whatever amount they have, especially if they have been living poor. 

For someone who survives below the average standard of living, getting 100,000 naira would be considered rich.

However, that money would not go anywhere as you can use it to purchase things in a day.

To be seen as rich in Nigeria without any arguments, you should have money in Millions or Billions.

What is the World’s Weakest Currency?

The world’s weakest currency is the Iranian Rial.

Final Thoughts on What Currency Does Nigeria Use.

This article has effectively covered all that you need to know about the Nigerian Naira.

We do not know if the CBN has plans to add to the current denominations, so we shall watch and see how things unfold.

So, the next time someone asks you what currency does Nigeria use, you now know that it is the Naira.

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