The Naira () is Nigeria’s official currency, but did you know that it wasn’t until 13 years after independence that Nigerians began to use it?
In this article, we’ll teach you five things about the history of money in Nigeria that you probably didn’t know but should.
1. Nigerians haven’t always had money.
Nigerians used to trade distinctly before the colonial era. People traded things and services for other goods and services, and value was exchanged through systems like trade through barter. For example, if you wanted a slave, you needed to have something valuable to work with, such as ivory or cotton. Fish, gin, jewelry, tobacco, and salt were also traded for whatever they desired.
People mainly used cowries, beads, and manilla cash. Therefore the concept of currencies became more stable over time.
2. The British introduced the first currency in Nigeria.
The concept of money was established during Britain’s colonialism of Nigeria. Then, pounds, pence, and shillings were utilized by Nigerians.
Nigerians used the pound sterling until 1973.
Even though Nigeria’s Central Bank was created in 1958, the country continued to utilize the Pound Sterling for another 13 years after independence. Nigeria was the latest of the British colonized countries to leave the system. Nigeria began using the Naira in 1973.
3. The Naira was introduced in 1973.
Nigeria began using its currency on January 1, 1973. Chief Obafemi Awolowo gave it the name naira. This was the true beginning of Nigeria’s money history. Banknotes and coins were used to introduce the Naira and kobo into the Nigerian economy. The distribution of the Naira is the responsibility of Nigeria’s central bank. It regulates the amount of money that enters the economy. Naira’s official currency code is NGN.
We had 12, 1, 5, 10, and 25 kobo coins in 1973, as well as 50 kobos 1, 5, and 10 banknotes. Bronze was used for the 12 and 1 kobo coins, whereas cupro-nickel was used for the higher denominations. 1 kobo = 100 kobo
The 20 was created in 1977.
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Fun fact: In some parts of Nigeria, the 20 is still referred to as “Muri” since it features a late General Murtala Muhammed photograph.
The 5 and 10 kobo coins were phased out of circulation in 1989, and the 50 note was introduced in 1991. The 50 kobos and one-note were replaced with cash in 1991.
Fun fact: To promote togetherness, the 50 features an illustration of people from all country sections. That’s why it’s known as “Wazobia,” an abbreviated form of “Wazobia.”
Wa-zo-bia is made up of three words in Yoruba (wa), Hausa (zo), and Igbo (bia), Nigeria’s three most prominent language groups, each of which meaning “coming.”
The 100 note was issued in 1999, while the 2000 note was introduced in 2001. The number 200 was submitted. In 2001, the 500 was introduced, followed by 1000 in 2005.
The largest denomination in circulation in Nigeria is the 1000 naira.
4. Who are the people on the Naira notes?
Former Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa is on the 5, educationist, activist, and politician Alvan Ikoku is on the 10, General Muritala Mohammed is on the 20, and an illustration of Nigerians from all tribes is on the 50.
Obafemi Awolowo is seen on 100, Sir Ahmadu Bello is depicted on 200, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president, is shown on 500, and previous CBN governors Alhaji Aliyu Mai-Bornu and Clement Nyong Isong are displayed on 1000.
5. The Naira wasn’t always this bad.
The Naira is now trading at $1 to 413 NGN. However, that hasn’t always been the case. Because of Nigeria’s economic troubles and inflation, the Naira has lost value over time.
We spoke with someone who left Nigeria in 1979 with $700 and converted it to $1000 when he arrived in the United States. His flight to the United States cost him 280 NGN.